Margaret River Wineries: Arimia Wines

Disclosure: I was invited to Arimia by the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association.

Arimia Wines is off the beaten path (literally you have to drive a 2km gravel road stretch to get there!). Located in Yallingup in the Margaret River Wine Region this whimsical winery is in a superb spot which mostly only the locals know about, it’s truly a hidden gem!

The cellar door is light-filled and has a refreshing effervesce to it. There is a collection of about a dozen wines you can taste for free. There’s something for everyone on the Arimia wine list from a Blanc de Blanc bubbles to whites (which include a Sauvignon Blanc, SSB, Verdelho & Chardonnay), a Grenache rosé and a nice selection of reds including a Cab Merlot, GSM, Shiraz/Vioginer, Peitit Verdot, Mourvèdre and an impressive Zinfandel.

Once you stop in for a tasting, it’ll be hard to resist not to stay for a bite to eat or lunch at this lovely Margaret River winery. The restaurant is set up with antique looking aged wood furniture, shiny cutlery and lovely tall Plumm glassware. Tables spill out onto a verandah and onto the grass under a big large tree.

My first thought was that this would be an amazing venue for a small wedding reception, especially if the tree was decked out with fairy lights. It is just so darn pretty and at the same time it has that typical Margaret River laid back feel. Plus having a bonsai tree of my own at home I loved the collection and mini farm of bonsai trees around the estate.

The restaurant menu is pretty straightforward. You have some light eats, mains, woodfired pizzas, cheese plates and there are a selection of cakes and slices for dessert. And of course the wine list. I would highly suggest doing a tasting at the cellar door counter first so you then know what wine to order for your lunch! It’s also great that each item on the menu has a suggested white and red wine match for that dish written on the menu – wine & food matching made easy! View the Arimia Margaret River lunch menu here.

On this visit I couldn’t resist going for the ‘braised wild goat pie with royal blue puree, onion jam and raspberry balsamic’ for $24 – a very decent price for a main meal! Absolutely delightful, the goat meat was so tender and the onion jam and balsamic were having a party in my mouth! We enjoyed a bottle of the 2011 Chardonnay between the 3 of us and it actually went down pretty well with the pie. The superbly balanced Chardy’s aged characteristics were a delight with the pies flavours. Mr. Spittoon went for a pizza which had a nice thin base and was served on a lovely wooden board.
Arimia Cellar Door Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Normally Mr. Spittoon and I would taste a bit of each others however we both devoured our meals before the thought popped into either of our minds to offer the other a taste. Very selfish however I don’t think I would of been able to part with even a forkful of that pie! Big kudos to Evan the Chef!

It was an absolutely lovely visit to Arimia, many thanks to the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association for the invite. I’ll be back again for sure – especially since a meal for 3 including a bottle of vino came to $90, bargain!

Arimia Wines is a family owned business. You’ll normally find Ann and Malcolm, the owners, manning the cellar door who’ll lead you through a tasting full of passion and enthusiasm. The name Arimia comes from their daughters – Ariann & Mia. For more information please visit the Arimia Wines website or Arimia Wines Facebook page.

If you’re planning a trip to the Margaret River Wine Region, make sure to check out the accommodation, wine tour & attraction ideas on margaretriver.com, or email welcome@margaretriver.com or call (08) 9780 5911MargaretRiver.com tourism logo

Lunch in the Swan Valley – The Laughin’ Barrel Winery

Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Caramelised Onion and Spiced Apple Woodfired Pizza – where? what? who? I MUST try that! Yes this is pretty much what ran through my mind as soon as I heard about such an interesting sounding pizza concoction!

The Laughin Barrel is a bit further up the Valley in Baskerville however it’s worth the drive, even if you get a little lost like I did (I blame the GPS for that!). I met with a friend for lunch on a weekday which suited me down to a tee as it was virtually empty and they have fantastic lunch specials ranging from $14 for a meal. That’s darn good in my books!

The setting is very pretty, the restaurant is level with the vineyard, you can literally sit about 2 metres away from the vines. Sitting outside has very much a laid back cafe feel to it, however the inside seating is simply stunning with high-back chairs and plenty of natural light coming in from the full windows across the front of the restaurant. So perhaps you take your date inside to dine and dine outside with the mates!

There is also a playground and plenty of area for the kids to play in, so it ticks that box of being a child friendly Swan Valley spot in case any of you with wee ones were wondering.

The wine list covers all the bases with a sparkling (read my tasting note of The Laughin’ Barrel Sparkling wine here), to a variety of whites, a rose and a variety of reds. What I also thought was a great idea, if you just want a snack and some wine is that they offer white and red tasting plates. Each plate comes with 3 tastings and a variety of olives, olive oil, dukkah, crackers, cheese or turkish bread, The white tasting plate is $6 and the red $8 – bargain in the Swan Valley!

On this particular day I decided to order off the lunch menu and I really couldn’t go past the Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Caramelised Onion and Spiced Apple Woodfired Pizza for $26!! The flavours were delicious, however near the end it did get a bit full on and rich for my liking. I would definitely suggest to share it with someone and have another dish on the side just to break it up a bit. I also wasn’t that impressed with the base. In my books the pizza base is sooo important and I am very picky. This one just seemed too supermarket like for me, I like homemade pizza base imperfections, the wonky shape and bubbles in the dough… mmmm!!

My friend had one of the super reasonably priced lunch specials which was a Kangaroo Pie with fries and salad for $14. On the menu it actually was supposed to come with mushy peas however my friend preferred fries and they happily made the switch at no extra cost. She LOVED it! I am definitely going back to try this!
The Laughin' Barrel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Next up and possibly my favourite part of the visit was dessert. My friend went for the Lemon & Lime Brulee for $9 and I went for the Chocolate Brownie Served with Ice-cream… OMG it was insanely good, it was so gooey and chocolatey on the inside that I couldn’t even string a sentence together, I was in brownie heaven! And do you know what? It was only $5.50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still can’t believe it, best deal in the Swan Valley!

All up it was a lovely first visit to The Laughin’ Barrel Winery & Restaurant, I am looking forward to visiting again to try more of their wine range and I’ll definitely be having another brownie!

For more information please check out The Laughin’ Barrel website and click here to view The Laughin’ Barrel menu.

Ugly Duckling Wines in the Swan Valley – pie & wine.. ohh yeah!

Ugly Duckling Wines Swan Valley - Pie & WineSeriously meat pies and wine – someone knows me well! Being a kiwi I grew up on mince & cheese pies, I love them to bits. So when I heard about Ugly Duckling Wines in the Swan Valley serving up gourmet pies how could I say no??

Ugly Duckling Wines is a small winery on West Swan Road not far from Reid Highway. The owners Andrew and Joanne are true delights and you’ll normally find them manning the open-air cellar door at the rustic cottage overlooking the vineyard that they operate out of. They have recently extended the counter which was a great idea as it use to be a bit crammed but it’s much more roomy now.
Ugly Duckling Wines Swan ValleyWine tasting is free of charge and they have a great selection from sparkling to Rose to whites and reds. If there is one thing I can recommend it’s paying the $2 tasting fee to try the Reserve Shiraz – this wine is an absolute beauty.

There are a number of tables set out on the lawn where you can enjoy a glass/bottle and some food if you wish. Either sit in the sun or undercover, they have it organised! They have cheese and meat platters available as well as the gourmet pies made by Bindoon Bakehaus (some of them have Ugly Duckling wine in them too!) which are served up with a fresh garden salad. Click on the images below to view the wine and food menus.

I decided to go for the chicken, leek and Chardonnay pie which was totally scrummy and I matched this with the 2009 sparkling Chardonnay for $9 per glass (read my tasting note here). Mr. Spittoon opted for the Steak, Mushroom and Shiraz pie matched with the Reserve Shiraz for $10 a glass (read my tasting note here) – delicious! I was also eyeing up the lamb and rosemary pie for round two but thought I better save that for the next visit.

Ugly Duckling Wines Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato For $13.5 a pop for a pie and salad it’s a pretty good deal. They make for a nice light lunch or simply a snack to help soak up all that wine on your day out in the Swan Valley.

For more information please visit the Ugly Duckling Wines website or the Ugly Duckling Wines Facebook page or better yet go and visit them out in the Swan Valley, they’re open 7 days a week and always up for a good yarn over a wine tasting or two!

Lunch in the Swan Valley at Lamont’s Winery

The menu is set up as a tapas/sharing plate menu, however there is one September dish that I would reccomend you not to share at any costs, it is just too darn good!

I honestly don’t know why it’s taken me this long to get to Lamont’s as they have such a great reputation and a large fanbase. Their Swan Valley cellar door is where it all began in 1978 however since then they have expanded to have a cellar door at Smiths Beach alongisde a resturant in Perth’s CBD (Bishops House) and a wine store in Cottesloe.

I guess I was expecting their cellar door in the Swan Valley to be large and flashy after everything I had heard about them. However it wasn’t. It was rather small and cosy. Once the weather perks up I can see how they would be able to accomodate a larger crowd with plenty of outdoor dining and drinking space. The cellar door and inside seating consists of about 10 tables. Most of the tables were suited to large groups however Mr. Spittoon and I still plonked ourselves down at one of the large rustic wooden tables since it wasn’t that busy on this particular Sunday.

It is more so a cafe than a restaurant, you grab a menu on your way in and then order at the counter when you’ve decided. Their “small taste” menu is designed for you to order a few dishes to pick and share between your group. My favourite kind of eating! The dishes range from half a baugette priced at AU$4 up to AU$22. The menu is also changed monthly, which just means you have to keep going back!

Here is what we ordered:

  • Baguette, Marinated Olives (Rosemary and Garlic) $10.50
  • Straight Cut Chips, Paprika Salt $9.50
  • Kaffir Lime, Turmeric Spiced Chicken Crepe, Creme Fraiche With Mint $15.50
  • Braised Lamb and Mushroom Pie, Sweet Potato and Garlic Mash, Malbec Reduction $16.50

It was probably the perfect amount for the two of us. However I would definitely opt for the bread with balsamic and olive oil next time. The olives were great however we didn’t really know what to do with the bread other than dip it in the brine of the olives. I would also of preferred to have a side of aioli or some sort of dipping sauce for the chips as I found the paprika salt pretty full on. The chips were cooked to perfection though, crispy and crunchy on the outside and super soft ont the inside.

The chicken crepe was just so morish, fantastic presentation and flavours. Buuuutttt the lamb and mushroom pie stole the show. It is this dish that I would NEVER share again. It was absolutely divine. Every element on the plate had me melting with delight. Mr. Spittoon was literally having to tear the plate out of my hands to get a taste.

When sharing various dishes like this, it’s always hard to choose a wine to match. My go-to wine for such a range of cuisines and flavours is Sparkling. Plus when eating out I always feel like making it a bit of a celebratory occassion. On this particular day i enjoyed a glass of the 2009 Vintage Sparkling at $9.50. It went down lovely with the food, particularly well with the olives!
Lamont's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
After finishing lunch and since the cellar door had quietened down we decided to do a tasting of a few of their wines. There was a nice selection of whites and reds ranging from Riesling to Chenin Blanc and to Malbec, which I just loved and had to get a bottle to take home.

Overall it was a lovely visit. I would definitely go back, particularly for that pie!!

For more information on Lamont’s please check out the Lamont’s website here.

Lunch in the Swan Valley at Black Swan Winery

There is a classy cool elegance about Black Swan Winery. Two of my favourite things about this Swan Valley property came about before I even stepped foot inside! First there was the ‘Black Swan shuttle service bus’ parked out front which shows this spot likes to have a bit of fun, yet in a responsible way! The next thing was that as you walk up to the tall entry door you can see directly through to the vineyard. I was truly mesmerized and yes Mr. Spittoon was getting a bit annoyed at me taking 10 photos too many! As per usual I just couldn’t capture that surreal view through my camera lens.

When we finally got inside we were shown to a lovely table on the covered in veranda type area which had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the vineyard so that we could really soak up our surroundings. Our waiter for the day was simply superb. Throughout our whole dining experience he seemed just so happy with life and his job. Nothing beats terrific customer service and his happy vibe rubbed off on us… although that could of been the wine!

I am probably the biggest potato fan out there (see my fries & wine matching post for proof), so as a teaser to our meal we ordered the beer battered fries with aioli (AU$10) – they are actually a side however we asked for it as a sneaky entree and that was no problem. The chips were awesome, so crisp on the outside and light and fluffy in the inside with minimal greasiness. The Black Swan Sparkling washed them down very well, read my tasting note here.

Check out the Black Swan menu here. For the mains we ordered:

  • Lamb shank Wellington, mushroom duxelle, Paris mash, Shiraz jus, $36
  • Slow roasted cider braised pork, colcannon potato cake, braised red cabbage and apple jus, $40

Both meals were awesome. Mr. Spittoon thought I won the ordering challenge, however his lamb shank was just so succulent. I have to admit the crackling on mine was absolutely to die for. Both our meals were very generous with the amount of meat on the plate. I couldn’t actually finish all mine, but don’t worry Mr. Spittoon wouldn’t dare let it go to waste.

Once done we ordered a glass of the Autumn Harvest each (read my tasting note here) to enjoy with a dessert. I know.. I know.. I said I couldn’t even finish my main meal, but there is a completely different stomach for dessert right? We decided to share a slice of the whisky chocolate cake with cream, it was super moist, with a pleasant touch of whisky that wasn’t overpowering but perfectly complimenting to the chocolate. We ended the meal with coffees and decided to purchase a couple of bottles from the cellar door to end a very lovely afternoon out.
Black Swan Winery and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
By this time we were both truly rammed, so we decided to have a walk down by the vineyard which was simply stunning. The winery dog was roaming about the place, the most gorgeous, rather shy border collie – I really did want to coerce it home with me!

Black Swan is a lovely spot in the Swan Valley, with a very intimate feel, generous size meals and the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is absolutely divine (read my tasting note here). For more information, please check out the Black Swan Winery website here.