It’s a fresh new year! Are you making any resolutions?
We spent the first few days of 2017 in Yallingup…a small coastal town in the South West region of Western Australia. Here are some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever walk on and for the surfers, some of the best waves you’ll ever ride.
Located around 250 km south of Perth, nestled in the northern corner of the wine-growing region of Margaret River – it’s a place well known for its rugged coastline, natural bushland, top-notch regional food and excellent wines.
Drinking wine is a favourite pastime of ours. We know just enough about wine to keep up in a conversation about tannins, grape varietals and oak aging yet I don’t think we’ve crossed that line from wine lovers to wine snobs. We do know when to not talk about wine.
The Margaret River region has an exceptional terroir for Bordeaux blends. In addition to sophisticated Cabernets, this region is also known for its full and fruit-forward Chardonnay, crisp but bright Sauvignon Blanc and herbaceous Semillion.
Meandering from cellar door to cellar door is easy and lots of fun. If you drive down Caves Road and you will see vineyards on either side. Turn into the side roads and more will be waiting for you.
Windows Estate – 4 Quininup Road, Yallingup
Windows was established by a young family in 1999. Lovely sunlit cellar door, knowledgeable yet laid back service and top quality wines. We fell in love with their 2014 Basket Pressed Cabernet Sauvignon – smooth with a long juicy finish brings a real brightness to this red.
Ashbrook Estate – 379 Tom Cullity Dr, Wilyabrup
Ashbrook is one of the quieter achievers consistently producing excellent estate-grown wines. They are one of only a few Margaret River wineries to use only grapes grown on a single Estate where the wine is also made, bottled and packaged. Our pick is the 2013 Cabernet Merlot which has an elegant yet complex medium-bodied palate.
Fraser Gallop Estate – 493 Metricup Road, Wilyabrup
The wines at Fraser Gallop are consistently of the highest standard. We fell in love with the beautiful 2015 Parterre Chardonnay.
Pierro – 4051 Caves Road, Wilyabrup
Pierro is renowned for its stylish white wines, but its red wines from good vintages can be every bit as impressive. We emerged with a bottle pulled deep out of the cellar – a 2005 Fire Gully Shiraz (a little spicy with sweet fruit flavours of plum and black cherry) which is remarkably still drinking well.
Cullen – 4323 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup
Vanya Cullen is one of the most well-known and respected ‘biodynamic’ winemakers. This winery consistently produces supremely elegant wines. The famous Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot can easily bear the comparison with the best Bordeaux.
Lenton Brae – 3887 Caves Road, Wilyabrup
Lenton Brae is a small winery owned and operated by the Tomlinson family. A couple of new organically grown wines were interesting – these are amusingly named ‘By the Horns’. This is Betty, official winery dog in residence at Lenton Brae.
This is a region not exactly hard up for fine chefs.
Wills Domain – Cnr Abbey Farm Rd &, Brash Rd, Yallingup
For us, this is one of the region’s most impressive dining experiences. Chef Seth James uses native ingredients in his dishes that surprise and delight the taste buds. The prices are at the upper end but the sophisticated and beautifully presented dishes in an idyllic setting is worth the indulgence. My favourite dish here – this rainbow trout number with cucumber, lemon myrtle and roasted dashi.
Xanadu – Boodjidup Rd, Margaret River
If you’re looking for lunch to break up a hard day of wine tasting then Xanadu should be high on the list.
The interesting European influenced menu, great service and excellent wine impressed us greatly. Our pick is the 2014 Stevens Road Chardonnay with its lovely crisp, lingering fruit finish.
Goanna Gallery Café – 278 Hayes Rd, Dunsborough
Nestled in bushland, this relaxed café serves simple, honest food made with locally sourced and seasonal produce. We enjoyed breakfast here on a crisp, sunny morning.
Piari & Co – 5/54 Dunn Bay Rd, Dunsborough
We were impressed with this neighbourhood restaurant serving top-notch local and seasonal food with interesting wines available by carafe. This place is an excellent counterpoint to the winery dining rooms.
There is so much to do in Yallingup yet you feel totally at home. I learnt that ‘Yallingup’ is the native Indigenous word for ‘place of love’ which pretty much sums up the way I feel about this place.
How has this year started for you? I hope 2017 is great for all of us…