To taste wine in such an atmosphere really makes you connect with the wine…
You wouldn’t think it but just off Reid Highway in Perth’s Swan Valley you’ll find a wine oasis amongst grape vines eager to tell the story of their historical rich property. With history dating back to the 1840’s and being home to the oldest commercial Verdelho vines in the Swan Valley a visit to Mandoon Estate has to be a must on your next day out in the Valley.
The current owners, the Erceg Family, immigrated to the Swan Valley from Croatia in the 1950’s. Having been in the Swan Valley wine industry since the 50s, it actually wasn’t until 2008 when they bought the Mandoon property, originally owned by the Roe Family since 1829. You’ll notice a circular swan symbol associated with Mandoon (normally found printed on the top of the screw cap on the bottles), this in fact is the family crest of the Erceg family.
The winery & cellar door is simply one big shed on the property in amongst the outstretched vines. As you walk from the parking lot around to the cellar door, you may be lucky enough to catch a sneak peak at the winery workers working their magic. On this particular day, I was visiting right in the middle of their 2013 harvest so when I walked by the big tin roller door (which to my luck was up!) I got to see a guy doing the process of “pumping over”. This process involves pumping the wine from the bottom of the vat up through a hose and squirting it back into the top of the vat where the “cap” or layer of grape skins are sitting. This helps the juice and grape skins increase their contact, maximising maceration. Back in the old days this technique was done by treading on the grapes with your feet, or virgin’s feet as the tale goes!
For a cellar door that is located in a tin shed, I must say I was blown away by its classy and sophisticated look and feel once inside. Cosy chairs are located down one end, perfect for sitting back and enjoying a glass or two and the walls are adorned with heavy wood framed photos of the team at Mandoon, their “Research Station ”vineyard in Margaret River and more.
Outstretched across nearly the width of the shed is a big solid bench with tasting bottles, award trophies and wine notes. Behind the bench is the working winery where there are French oak barrels on one side stacked nearly up to the roof and stainless steel vats on the other with all the hoses and bits and pieces of equipment used in the winemaking process – a proper working winery. Plus having spoken with a few winemakers over the years, I have heard that they do like to pride themselves on keeping their working winery in top notch shape and I must say the Mandoon winery is super clean and organised!
To taste wine in such an atmosphere really makes you connect with the wine you’re drinking. Here you are drinking something which was once in those vats, or in those barrels. Plus if you’re there on a day like I was, where the winery was in full swing you will get to smell those lovely fruit yeasty smells from the fermentation process.
What I think would really step this experience up a notch is for Mandoon to have a specified walkway for us the consumers to wander right down the middle of the winery, so you can have a further sneak peek at how the wine gets into your glass. But then again that’s just me being nosey! Like all creators of something great, there has to be some kept secrets I guess!
The tasting at Mandoon is very relaxed. There is no tasting fee to try their 3 whites and 3 reds, your taste buds are welcomed with open glasses. On the tasting board this particular day was their famous Verdelho, a Sauvignon Blanc from grapes sourced in Pemberton, a late harvest white blend, an old vine Grenache, a Cabernet Merlot blend and their copious award-wining old vine Shiraz.
The lovely Irish women who took us through our tasting was super informative while at the same time letting my boyfriend and I have some time in between the wines to discuss between ourselves what we thought of the wine. Even though I am a strong believer in different wines for different palates, I am still not a fan of saying outright to a winery worker that their wine tastes like dirty laundry. Plus I am not a good liar so it’s best just to give me some time! So….What were the favourites???
My boyfriend, or spittoon as I like to call him, pretty much came to the same conclusions as myself. We both loved the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc for its well-balanced acidity with plentiful flavours of passionfruit and pineapple with a refreshing candied lemon finish (read a full tasting note here). And our red pick of the day was the Cabernet Merlot, the tannins and oak are seamlessly integrated with beautiful flavours of fresh plum, cherries and wild blackcurrants coming through with a touch of chocolate (read a full tasting note here).
Naturally we just had to buy some bottles, and what do you know – they actually had a special on those exact 2 bottles! Luck was on our side.. Actually it just meant we ended up buying double the amount of what we intended too since they were on special…oops!
Overall I really enjoyed my first visit to Mandoon Estate in Caversham, in the Swan Valley. They have such a lovely point of difference, where you actually taste in the winery letting all your senses be excited by all the action taking place around you. This has to be a must visit on your next day out in the Valley!
Plus I heard through the grapevine recently that they are currently building and putting in place plans to start up a microbrewery and restaurant on the property too, read more here.
Friday-Sunday 11:00am – 4:00pm
10 Harris Road, Caversham, Perth, WA 6055