After some careful planning, we set off on our exploration of the Margaret River wine region. Unfortunately, ‘ace navigator extraordinaire’ Brigid had misread the Wine Festival brochure.
We had expected to be able to leave our trusty van at the campsite, relying instead on several advertised bus routes that would take us to the various wineries. As it transpired, these only ran at the weekend, so we would now have to limit our tastings so as not to fall foul of the drink-drive laws.
First on the list was the Settlers Ridge outlet at Cowaramup. They currently have no distributor in the UK, but we liked their 2000 Sauvignon Blanc, the ’99 Shiraz, and the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon.
A little further down the road, we stopped at Howard Estates, who make the “Mad Fish” wines that we see in the UK. We preferred their reds to their whites – and both varieties (Shiraz and ‘Premium Red’) are available at home.
By this stage, we were becoming hungry for lunch, and Vasse Felix (Vasse was a shipwrecked sailor, who landed in the area, and Felix means ‘lucky’!) was reputed to have a good restaurant. Unfortunately, Vasse Felix also has the most beautiful landscaped gardens, and all the trees and scrubs were in blossom. As Brigid tasted the first of the wines, she remarked, “either this has an extremely subtle bouquet, or I have completely lost my sense of smell”. Within minutes, she was suffering a full-blown attack of hay fever.
Every cloud has a silver lining, however … at least for John! With Brigid unable to taste wines for the rest of the day, John was able to make the most of the afternoon.
He tasted a delicious 2000 Chardonnay at Hay Shed Hill (who no longer export), and also liked their Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Our last winery of the day was Willespie. But, by that stage, John’s taste buds were getting tired.
Before dinner, Brigid had an appointment with the local WeightWatchers group, to see how her diet had been going. She was delighted to find that over 3 weeks, she had lost 3.5kgs. With that, we decided it was time for dinner. We ate at the inappropriately named Margaret River Hotel. (In Australia, the word ‘hotel’ usually implies the roughest drinking hole in town. While they are obliged to offer some sort of accommodation – if only so that drunks can sleep off their excesses – it is usually far from salubrious!)