After seven weeks in Southeast Asia and our travels through the barren countryside of western Australia, I was more than ready to taste some wine. Traveling south from New Norcia we stopped in a little town called Bindoon where Sam of course spotted a bakery (there aren’t too many we drive past without him sampling a pie). This bakery has been the most impressive by far, I’ve heard Sam tell multiple people about it, raving about his kangaroo pie which he claims was like eating a kangaroo steak. After our mid-morning snack we arrived in Swan Valley, which is just north of Perth. The valley has two main roads running north south that are lined with many small wineries. As we were there on a Tuesday we had some difficulty finding wineries that were actually open. We stopped in at four different wineries all producing tasty Verdelho’s. The first winery, Upper Reach, is in a beautiful setting over-looking their vineyards and a massive eucalyptus tree where it appears they host many events. The 2009 Verdelho is a fresh, clean wine with lime notes, a nice change from the many Sauvignon Blancs we have tried. Our next stop was John Kosovich, one of the original producers in the valley, the hand-dug cellar excavated in in 1922. We had a good chat with the winemaker and enjoyed his modest wines while admiring the extensive wine library behind the tasting bar. All producers in the valley are using screw-caps and it was interesting to note that their 1970s vintage wines were all screw-caps as well, an old technology making a comeback. We purchased a Kosovich Chardonnay which is very elegant with well integrated oak. Further down the road we stopped in at one of the larger producers in the area, Houghton. While many of their wines are available around Australia, they offer tastings of their Wisdom Range and Bandit wines in the tasting room. I enjoyed the Pemberton Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir and Frankland River Shiraz in the Wisdom range. The Bandit range consists of three wines that are blends and the package is just fantastic: each label has a different story-book type illustration on it. The blended wines are: Chardonnay/Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc/Pinot Gris, and a Shiraz/Tempranillo. The most informative tasting room was at Jane Brook Estate Wines, the tasting room manager was very enthusiastic and shared a lot information about the greater Western Australian region. He tasted me through an extensive range of wines with the highlights for me being the 2009 Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Atkinson Family Reserve Shiraz, and the Tokay. They produce a bottle of sparkling that contains flecks of 23 karat gold apparently offering dietary benefits and looking quite showy. A client in Dubai is the best customer for this unique bottle of bubbles. After all of the tasting, we ventured to the Margaret River Chocolate Company which felt as if we walked into the Willy Wonka factory with every type of chocolate dessert available, over-whelming really. We attempted to sample some of the local brews but all of the breweries were closed, much to Sam’s dismay. Looking forward to continuing the wine tour through Margaret River next week.
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