Gourmet Escape Margaret River

I’m quite late in posting about the Gourmet Escape in Margaret River considering it’s past Christmas and the event took place from the Friday 21st November and through to the 22nd and 23rd November- the latter two were the Gourmet Village. The fact that I’m a little tardy posting doesn’t take away from the fact that I still think it’s a great event – a wonderful opportunity to meet numerous winemakers, entrepreneurs and taste a range of wines. I was again, only there for the 1 day so I focused only on wines. Of course there are a range of beers to enjoy and the food masterclasses and food sampling dishes are another reason to go.

A selection of wines, stalls and a wine session at Gourmet Escape

A selection of wines, stalls and a wine session at Gourmet Escape

From the Friday through to the Sunday there were numerous organised soirées, canapés at satellite events in and around Margaret River including at particular wineries. The Gourmet Village itself is hosted at Leeuwin winery. This was its third year and I have no doubt there were more wineries represensented than in previous years. Plus more culinary stalls and an expansion from last year’s craft beers. There were also sessions with well-known wine writers and wine trade; James Halliday, Mike Bennie, Bob Miao not to mention live cooking demonstrations hosted by the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein and Massimo Bottura at the chef’s theatre.  There were also kids’ cooking classes, book signings and wine sessions to attend. I loved the event but I must say, two improvements would be more ladies’ cubicles and wider space for the food stalls. I think both would help save time queuing and who wants to wait in line when there’s so much food and wine to try?


More wines (and chocolate) at the Gourmet Escape

More wines (and chocolate) at the Gourmet Escape

If you want to understand the story behind the label, how the wine came to be, how the wine was made, how it differentiates from its neighbours etc, you need to spend the time to meet the winermakers and the team and taste through the wines.

Domaine Naturaliste: The winery itself is just over 4 months old but Bruce Dukes, the winemaker has been making wines for over 12 years; 5 years in the Napa Valley and 7 at Pierro in Margaret River. Bruce and Wendy run the vineyard and despite the winery only being 4 months old, the numer of awards won has been remarkable, most recently gaining 98 points in James Halliday’s Top 100 out during the weekend of the Gourmet Escape. Before becoming a winemaker Bruce was an agronomist so you could say soil and winemaking has been in his blood for much longer. I was lucky enough to try most of his range at the Gourmet Escape. They really offer sometthing a bit different with lovely texture and freshness. And not at extortionate
prices. Some of his wines are stocked at selected Liquor Barons stores as well as the Young George in East Fremantle and The Winebox in Nedlands. Or you can buy them from their website; domainenaturaliste.com.au/store.

Marq: These guys are just next door to Domaine Naturaliste and were on the same stand at the Gourmet Escape. A lovely couple very passionate about wine. It was their first time at the Gourmet Escape as they were about to move onto their fourth vintage. Mark Warren is the winemaker behind the brand who was at Happs for 12 years and Lamont’s 13 years before that. As well as running Marq, Mark also lectures at university. They buy all their fruit which comes from Willyabrup, Yallingup  and Karridale. I was intrigued to see and taste their Vermentino – most commonly found in Italy and Petit Manseng, home in the South West of France. Both were tasty and interesting and so fresh. The wines are sold mainly in the on premise and selected liquor stores as well as from their site; marqwines.com.au/#the_marq_story

Picardy: It was wonderful to see Picardy at the Gourmet Escape having only seen them a few days before at Lamont’s in Cottesloe. They are very busy not only in the vineyard but also promoting and marketing their wines. More about their wines can be seen here. You can buy them from selected Liquor Barons stores in Perth, Lamont’s and you can contact them here; www.picardy.com.au/contact-us.

Then I went to a Wine Session with Nick Stock where we tasted Rieslings from the Great Southern then a Sauvignon Blanc from Pemberton tasted alongside a Semillon Sauvignon from Margaret River. Jo Bradbury of Three Drops and Bob Miao, wine writer led us through the wines explaining the soil types and climate in the different regions and the reflecting styles of wine.

Snake and Herring: Raymond Sweeny and Tony Davis are the guys behind Snake and Herring. Always happy to answer questions, speak to customers and explain about the wines, I find them very friendly. I love the wine names of the labels; Tear Drop, Tough Love Chardonnay, Corduroy, Dirty Boots. I also like the wines, the different styles; the mid weight creaminess of the SBS, the freshness of the Riesling and pure lime fruit concentration, the affects of the 30% barrel fermentation (and 70% tank fermentation) of the Tough Love. You can buy them in some liquor stores in Perth such as Old Bridge Cellars and Swanbourne Cellars or from their website; snakeandherring.com.au

Fraser Gallop: I’ve tasted the wines from Fraser Gallop many times and visited them just the once at Margaret River earlier this year. Their wines never disappoint. At the Gourmet Escape I was lucky enough to meet Clive Otto who has been making wines at Fraser Gallop since 2007.  Phil Callaghan, the sales and marketing manager as was Michael Lee from Domaine Wine Shippers was also there on hand to answer questions.

House of Cards: I first tasted the wines from these guys at the Gourmet Escape last year. Then I had to go to their winery after and I did the same thing this year. Liz and Trav are relatively new to the wine trade under ‘ House of Cards’  and they’ve already received numerous accolades and recommendations about their wines. As well as the quality of the wines and their style, I love the idea behind the name, ‘House of Cards.’ As they explain on their site’ As they say on their site, ‘ Our name House of Cards was inspired by the gamble that winemakers and growers take every vintage – you have to play the hand that you are dealt.’ I also love their artwork, their set up and their marketing I find quite unique. You can buy their wines from their cellar door.

The Alchemists: Not only do I find the packaging rather cool and unique but I like the story too. Sarah, who set up The Alchemists has a twin sister who is behind Greedy Sheep and they produce the 1 wine together called Twin Cellars. Having a twin sister myself, I have a somewhat affinity to twin-related products. The wine is good too and you can buy them from their site; the-alchemists-wines.myshopify.com/collections/the-alchemists

Grace Farm: The vines were planted in 2006 with the first vintage in 2010. Since then the wines have won a number of awards both from home and abroad; Decanter World Wine Awards, Decanter magazine, Australian Boutique Wine Awards and the Perth Royal Wine Show. I tried the full range’ SBS, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Reserve Cabernet. The wines are available online; www.gracefarm.com.au/winery/order-form

Then I went to another wine session led by Mike Bennie; ‘New Wave and Next Generation.’ Led by some of the winemakers, it was interesting to hear their views on the wines, why certain grape varieties were chosen for those specific reasons and the reasons behind the biodynamic and natural wines.

As well as visiting wine stalls I visited the likes of Bahen chocolate, Karvan coffee and Catie of Sweetly Baked. If only I had more time, I would have visited more stands, tasted more food, wine and coffee and chocolate. What a great way to spend a Saturday and for only $35 to meet such interesting and wonderful people.