With my spending allowance in hand (my boyfriend was the watchful Bank Manager for the day) and my tasting glass dangling around my neck on my new yellow ‘wineglass necklace’ holder, I was ready to take on the Margaret River Vintage Festival at 11am on Saturday the 14th of April.
The festival took place at the Palmer Wines Estate on Caves Road in the petite coastal town of Dunsborough. As the northern gateway to the Margaret River, this is an ideal location to be introduced to some of the regions finest wines and local produce. It is an easy 3-hour drive south of the states capital, Perth.
For a reasonable AU$35 the ticket gave me access to around 300 different wines from 38 different producers. It is a wine-drinkers paradise. The Palmer Wines Estate is a beauty however under the wine marquee it did get a bit cramped. When free wine samples are being served, some people do tend to loose focus where they are and elbows start getting jammed in your side.
The nearer it got to the end of the festival, at 6pm, the pushier and ruder some people got. It was not called for. However saying this, it was only a few and the majority of wine enthusiasts at the festival were fantastic.
The tasting glass that we were given upon entry was also ours to keep at the end of the festival, which I liked. A small souvenir to take home and I couldn’t help but splurge on a bright yellow ‘wineglass necklace’ for the day. They are quirky, fun and are a must for all wine festivals.
It was such a fun day out and I have uncovered some great wines, which I want to get to know a lot better over the coming months. Some of the standouts were:
1. Clown Fish by Cowaramup Wines: Out of the 3 bottles I bought, 2 were from Clown Fish. I loved their SBS (Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon) and their Chablis styled Chardonnay.
2. Brookland Valley: The Bay of Fires Rose Sparkling they were showcasing, even though it’s not from the Margaret River but Tasmania in fact, was absolutely delicious and I couldn’t resist spending AU$30 on a bottle of this. The only downside is that the 3 times I went to the stall (firstly to taste, secondly to buy 2 glasses to go with lunch and thirdly to buy a bottle) I had the worst customer service of the day! It was so disappointing and seriously, if it weren’t for the sparkling being so good I wouldn’t take a second look at their wines ever again.
3. Swooping Magpie: Their 2011 Chenin Blanc and Verdelho were fantastic. As I said in my last post, I really struggle finding a decent Verdelho however this one made me want to go back for more.
4. Rosabrook: Not only do they have some of the most beautifully designed labels but the Winemaker – Brian was extremely helpful and insightful during our tasting. He is a typical Aussie bloke who knew how to talk about his wines in a down-to-earth approachable way.
There were so many that stood out to me. I loved the fact that Michael Hutton from Hutton Wines dressed as Austin Powers (unfortunately he couldn’t find the Ron Burgundy suit in time for the festival) and he was doing a great job at showcasing his 3 award winning wines.
Cape Naturaliste introduced us to a new way of enjoying their Moscato; a shot of vodka, plenty of ice, a good squeeze of fresh lime, and then top the glass up with Moscato. I will let you know what it’s like once I give it a go. Unfortunately they ran out of bottles of the Moscato at the festival.
The other boutique winery that stood out to me was Vintners Ridge Estate. They grow and produce only Cabernet Sauvignon and they do it so well. It was great to do a vertical tasting of there 2007, 2008 and 2009 at the festival. I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a few bottles of the 07.
As you can tell, there was a lot to see, taste and hear about over the 7 hours of the festival. It was a great introduction to the wines of the Margaret River and it really has sparked my interest in the area. Not only did we enjoy the wines but it was a fantastic opportunity to see some local artists works in the art market and of course try some food from the regions chefs.
I would of liked to see more food stands to be honest. When it got to lunchtime I first went to the Margaret River Burger Bar stall which was backed up with orders which meant a 45-minute wait. Likewise the Japanese Savoury Pastries stall (which we were highly recommended) had a line a mile long. In the end we opted for ‘Mikes Delicious Dogs’ run by Voyager Estate. The dogs were venison with nice wholegrain mustard. However for AU$6 a pop I wasn’t so impressed.
This was especially true when we walked a few tents down and found the Xanadu Wines tent making the most mouth-watering looking lamb burgers for AU$5. Hindsight is a curse!
It was a great day out in the beautiful sunshine of WA and I couldn’t recommend it more. Between the Margaret River and the Swan Valley, I am sure the wines of Western Australia are going to dominating my cellar in no time.