If you’re ever looking for a laid back wine and food festival, then make sure Albany’s Wine and Food festival is on the list. Not only does it take place in one of the most beautiful parts of WA but it’s an awesome opportunity to taste wine, beer, cider food and more from a number of local Great Southern producers in the one spot.
Firstly a big thanks to IGA’s Taste Great Southern for inviting Mr. Spittoon and I along – we had a fabulous day and left the festival with a number of tasty tipples and treats to bring back to Perth.
Prior to the festival we had a wonderful brekkie at Three Anchors on Middleton Beach – my Bacon, Avocado & Cheese Croissant with a couple of hashbrowns on the side was a perfect way to line the stomach for the day ahead!
The Celeb Chef – Colin Fassnidge
The star of the show had to be of course Chef Colin Fassnidge (My Kitchen Rules) cooking on stage at the cooking demos throughout the day. It was great to see he was also interested in tasting some of the local tipples which meant I got to bump into him at the Galafrey stand and grab a picture. I was just a touch excited – I am sure you can see that from that massive grin across my face!
We managed to catch bits and pieces of the demos where he provided some good home cooking tips. It was also great to see his Sous Chef for the day was one of the Hybla chefs. As we stayed right beside the Hybla in Middleton Beach we quickly became fans of the wine and food menus alongside the top-notch service.
The Wine Theatre
Free wine masterclasses, say what? Yep when you have the opportunity for some free wine education – you can’t really turn it down. Andrew Hoadley – the Great Southern Winemakers President and owner of La Violetta Wines was running the classes with the lovely Verity James. Andrew’s depth of wine knowledge and unique humour was always going to make for a great wine appreciation class.
The masterclass we did was on Great Southern Cabernet. Andrew took us through 4 local Cabs – explaining to us the different nuances and viticulture/winemaking techniques for each.
Here’s what we tried:
All of the wines were lovely. The standout for me was the Duke’s – it really seduced my palate and I’ll definitely be hunting some down.
The Wine Stalls
Armed with our take-home Taste Great Southern wine tasting glass we aimed to visit all the wine stalls at the show and naturally balance this out with plenty of water and food breaks!
I think I found at least one wine at every stall that tickled my taste buds! Here was the line-up and my highlights for each:
The Lake House
These guys were the first stall in the door. Having seen them the weekend prior at the Great Southern Wine Market at Petition in Perth we were more ‘reminding’ our palates with tasters of our favourites alongside a wee taste or three of the yummy VinoFood range.
No surprise here but my wine pick was the 2014 Chardonnay!
Willoughby Park & Boston Brewing
I really wanted to make it back to try the beers (particularly the alcoholic ginger beer) however unfortunately we ran out of time. We did however taste through the wines.
I am a huge fan of their Riesling and Chard. Plus I also really enjoyed their Pinot which we later had a glass of while having a bite to eat and listening to the live music.
On our last trip down to Denmark – the Plantagenet cellar door in Mt Barker was our first stop on our Great Southern trip and it’ll always bring back fond memories for us.
It was great to try some of the new releases. The 2016 ‘York’ Chardonnay went down beautifully! As did the 2014 Three Lions Shiraz and the glorious 2014 Aquitaine Cabernet Sauvignon.
We actually stopped into the Gilbert Wines cellar door on our way down the day before. They’re just north of Mt Barker on Albany Highway so it makes for a perfect place to take a break en-route to Albany. I will be blogging about our visit so stay tuned!
Naturally though we had to ‘re-try’ the 2015 Hand Picked Chardonnay and newly released 2016 Rosé.
Galafrey was another cellar door we stopped at on the way down, but again, it would have been rude not to try and few of their tipples at the festival.
What really excited me was the Slightly Sparkling Panache. This pale pink-peach bubbles is made in a Prosecco style, with slightly less bubbles it means less bloat and burps for those of us who suffer from sparkling wine. It’s made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Panache means ‘dashing elegance of manner; carefree spirited, self-confident or style; flamboyance’ – love it! And Colin Fassnidge also enjoyed this one ;)
It was great to see Danni from Freehand Wines again and have the opportunity to taste the current releases. These guys make some awesome preservative free, organic and biodynamic wines.
The Old Vine Cab went down really well and it was great to give the decanted 2002 Reserve Cab a go too – a good example of how a well-made preservative free red wine can age.
We haven’t tried much from Arcadia – so it was great to get to know these guys better and we ended up buying a few bottles too. It was the aged Rieslings which both Mr. Spittoon and I loved. The 2006 and 2008 Rieslings went down awesomely! I can’t wait to dig into these soon.
We actually tried the 2014 Pinot Noir from these guys just a couple of weekends ago when we did a degustation at the Chocolate, Chilli & Pork Company in Guildford. It was great to see these guys at the festival so we could try a few more from the range including a 1997 Riesling!
Next up was Rockcliffe wines who we are fairly familiar with and visited the cellar door on our last trip to Denmark. Owner, Steve Hall, was manning the stall. It was great to hear from Steve about his journey in owning Rockcliffe as he’s actually a doctor in geology – hence the ‘rocky’ references. The Sparkling and 2016 Third Reef Rosé were faves!
The 2014 Ebulliant Riesling bubbles is such an awesome tipple – give me a bottle of that and some sunshine and I’m one happy lady. The 2015 Tempranillo also went down spectacularly!
I’ve tried the Bunn Wines at a few of the Perth wine festivals and I also mentioned these guys in my recent preservative free wine guide post. It was the 2012 Cab that stood out to me on this particular day. Once the sun went behind the clouds at the festival and the wind chill picked up – it was an excellent way to warm up.
Cider & Beer Stalls
Having visited Elephant Rock Cidery on our last trip and falling in love with their jalapeño Cider, I just had to stop in for a wee cup. We also had to stock up on the chilli cider nuts which are glorious!
To end the day we had a pint from the Beer Dudes out of the back of their converted horse trailer – very cool and tasty brews too!
The Food – Liberté
Visiting Liberté in Albany was high on our to do list over the weekend. The night before it was our plan for dinner until the power went out. We enjoyed a few drinks before this point however with starving tummy’s we had to find somewhere else for tea unfortunately.
Thankfully these guys were at the festival serving up their delicious spicy chicken bao’s which were absolutely to die for! We enjoyed these with a glass of Willoughby Pinot while listening to the lovely live music (who speaking of which did a great version of Christina Perri’s – A Thousand Years).
Plus I naturally had to grab a snap with owner and chef extraordinaire Amy Hamilton while hanging out at the Liberté stand.
We had an absolutely fabulous day which we ended at Rats Bar up the road with a Castle Rock Chardonnay and some Albany oysters – bliss!