Above: Leeuwin Estate

Margaret River Wineries

The youngest of Australia’s wine regions — the first vines were planted in 1967— Margaret River produces some of the country’s most respected wines, bottlings with finesse and refinement that are markedly different from the better-known, bolder wines. The land benefits from cooling breezes off the Indian Ocean, which provide an antidote to the heat of long, sunny days. While Margaret River was first known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays, its portfolio has expanded to include Sauvignon Blancs and Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blends, and Shiraz. Almost 160 wineries are in operation here. These were the standouts from our recent visit.

Vasse Felix

Wine lounge at Vasse Felix

Dr. Tom Cullity planted the first grapes here in 1967, convinced that this would be an ideal spot for a vineyard. He has been proven right. A beautiful estate just a short drive from Cape Lodge, Vasse Felix welcomes visitors to its landscaped grounds with a well-run tasting room (or, to use the Australian term, “cellar door”) and a superb restaurant, one of the finest in Western Australia (open for lunch only). The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon displayed a nose redolent of cassis and black currants, and a palate with soft fruits balanced by enough tannin to ensure promising aging. I also admired the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, with its slightly floral nose balanced by a hint of herbs, and a fresh palate of citrus and just a snap of green apple. Lunch in the handsome dining room overlooking the vineyards was startlingly good: an unusual starter of emu with smoked oysters, horseradish and kohlrabi; and a main course of pork, octopus, gazpacho and fennel.

Vasse Felix
Caves Road and Tom Cullity Drive, Margaret River. Tel. (61) 8-9756-5000.

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