Day two in Margaret River, and I find myself full circle a year later at the birthplace of this magical wine dream, House of Cards.
Expectations were high, and House of Cards did not disappoint. The wines are rich, full, and the best hand in the pack. As expected, a bottle of the Ace of Spades was carried out with us. The team are just as rich with varied experience, including a student of the Viticulture school in Margaret River. A new idea is hatching…..but more on that later.
We learned that the House of Cards estate was once much larger, but had been divided into two wineries; one for each of the original owner’s children. So, we headed straight over to the sister estate, Windows. And, exquisite is the only word that can truly describe the wines by Windows. The 2016 basket pressed Cabernet Sauvignon was a wine with complexities that I just could not have appreciated last year. Yet another confirmation that my palette along with my wine knowledge is developing. My second wine purchase made! (I may have to unpack some shoes to make room for all the wine).
We did visit a few of the larger, more commercial wineries. But, we soon realised that the larger and more elaborate the cellar door, wine list and staff uniforms, the less likely we were to enjoy the wines and the price tags too.
So, we headed out to another smaller vineyard, Stormflower. This fully bio-dynamic winery was busy marking out space to build their own winery once this year’s vintage was over, and in my humble opinion, it will be worth it. Sadly, we did not get to taste the Chenin Blanc sparkling, which has been recommended to me by several of my peers. Also, they had lost this vintage’s Semillon crop in its entirety due to a sudden storm. You must read the story of their name here . We were left with reds which were very gentle and easy to drink, and the Botrytis SBS (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend). Regardless, it was most definitely worth the visit.
A lovely lunch followed at the Cheeky Monkey Brewery with live music and a beautiful pond side table, and then off to the last two vineyards of the day. The first, Pierro, were also having problems with their white grape. They were not ripening enough and getting rot on the same bunch (image below). Bittersweet, there were too many wines to taste and enjoy at a leisurely pace.
The day came to a pleasant end at Aravina. We tiptoed past a wedding, sneaked in through the cellar door, and sipped on the 2013 Merlot. This was a revelation to me as all the learning that I had done about the right soil, climate, weather and wine making style all finally came together to make sense in reality. This is not a grape that I had previously enjoyed, but having sampled this bottle, my mind has been reopened.
A fabulous bottle of the sparkling did sneak out the door, but only as far as Dunsbrough beach to watch the sunset with us, another wonderful day in Western Australia.