Literally down the road from our resort is the estate that produces one of my favourite summer drops – Fermoy Estate’s Sauvignon Blanc. Their Cab Sav has scored well but it was the Sav Blanc I discovered first so I’m partial. That said, the 2012 lacks a little of the edge of the 2009 vintage, but it still sits close to some of my favourites.
From here it’s a short skip across the road to Evans and Tate. I’ve always enjoyed their everyday range (their classic and Gnangara labels) but was blown away by their Artisan range. Their 2012 Sav Blanc is beautifully balanced with a dash of Semillon and old French oak barrelling gives it the complexity, texture and length that I adore. For now this is only available at the cellar door and online.
Around the corner on Caves Road is Lenton Brae. This is a special smaller family winery and their wines are exceptional. You’ll likely find Jeanette (the winemakers’ mother) at the cellar door and the family dog keen for a scratch out front. A must-try here is the award-winning Wilyabrup Chardonnay & the Cab Sav. Neither of these award-winners are cheap but they are worth every cent and be warned – if you start here you’ll be setting off from a high bar. Thankfully they also offer a delightful, more affordable Brightside Chardonnay – not as complex but just as delicately crafted.
From here it’s off to the Venison farm/shop. Here you can taste (and of course buy) anything from venison chorizo, liverwurst and kransky to full venison racks and steaks. It’s places like this that make me glad I so often go for self-catering. I highly recommend trying the rack (and the chorizo, and the kransky, and … well as much as you have time for). I marinated the rack in a mixture of lemon zest, olive oil and finely chopped rosemary and roasted it for about 25 minutes on 180˚C. I served this with a gorgeous Shiraz sauce (also from the Venison shop). On another night I sliced up some chorizo which I mixed in with tagliatelle and a simple sage butter.
I digress … from the Venison shop we headed to Xanadu for another wine tasting and some lunch. This was undoubtedly my favourite food experience in Margaret River. The restaurant is perfect for a cozy winter lunch. Stone interior, blazing fireplace, timber floors and the food is exquisite.
We shared the oxtail cannelloni as a starter (and immediately regretted not getting one each). All the flavour you’d expect from a properly slow-cooked oxtail but with hardly any residual fat and off the bone in a silky smooth cannelloni tube with mushroom broth and manjimup truffle.
For a main I combined two entrees. Great idea and so glad I didn’t miss either of these masterpieces. Pork three ways – hock terrine, confit belly and smoky rillettes with pickled veg and treacle bread; and the perfection of the scallops with feather-lightness of goats curd delicately encased in a maple pumpkin tube nearly brought me to my knees.
My husband’s beef fillet with mushroom ketchup and potato boulangere was buttery perfection and substantial enough to keep him happy.
We both loved the Chardonnay, the Cab Sav was outstanding and we had a couple of surprises here too. Roger was really taken with the Viognier – unusual for him as he’s not normally partial to too much wood. I wasn’t expecting to find a Graciano, nor such a good one. Not surprising is that Xanadu’s chief winemaker, Glenn Goodall, is up for winemaker of the year.
With tummies well-lined it’s off to Stella Bella in anticipation of their Tempranillo. What a lovely cellar door – and I’m talking as much about the ambience and delightful duo of ladies in attendance. Very knowledgeable, very relaxed and happy for a chat. Just as well too – as they have many wines worth tasting and taking your time over. The Tempranillo was honest, but I especially loved the Chardonnay and their Sangiovese Cab deserves a nod too.
Coffee time. By now a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but worth it regardless. Look no further than Yahava coffee works. All organic, freshly ground and the first coffee I’ve tasted that stands up to Brunetti’s in Melbourne. They do coffee tastings too. I strongly suggest trying their iced coffee. First sniff is syrupy sweet and close to off-putting, but do try it with a little milk. We tried this on our tour the following day (coming next) – nearly all of us had the same initial reaction – and nearly all of us bought a bottle to take home.