Last Saturday I headed into the Perth Hills. I’m embarrassed to say that having lived here for 4 years, this was the first time I went to a winery in the area. I’ll dwell no more on that but focus on how I spent a leisurely Saturday afternoon in the hills.
I went to the Hills with a few friends and we arrived at MyattsfField Winery just before noon. We were lucky that it was quiet and the winemaker; Josh Davenport was behind the tasting counter. He took us through the wines, explained the history of the winery, the grapes grown, the viticulture techniques and his as well as his wife’s (Rachel) background. I really appreciated his time.
Josh and Rachel planted the vines in 1996, labelled their first vintage in 2003 and started worked full time at the winery by 2007. The winery is in the Bickley Valley, a sub region of the Perth Hills. Here in the valley there are warm days and cool nights and as they state on their website; ‘ideally suited to Spanish and Portuguese grapes.’ Having lived in Europe for much of my life, I became accustomed to trying these types of grapes and so was even more keen to visit the winery. Due to where it’s located, the Darling Scarp, protects the vineyard from the maritime influence of the Indian Ocean and with it being 300-350 above sea level, the Bickley Valley is 2-3 degrees cooler than Perth.
I found the history of the Myatt family intriguing. It appears their green fingers goes back generations. Back in 1840, the family were well known for producing and supplying rhubarb. In fact, during this time, they supplied 12,000 bunches of the vegetable to the London Borough market. Initially there was a farm in Camberwell but as the capital city grew, the farm decreased and it is today called Myatts Field Park, 14 acres of greenery among the hustle and bustle of the city.
Josh describes Rachel as the ‘sparkling queen’ and we started with this wine. It’s only their second year they’ve made the Chardonnay and I can’t wait to try it in a few more years time.
- Sparkling – 2012 Méthode Champenoise (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)
- Sparkling -2011 Méthode Champenoise Rosé
- 2011 Verdelho
- 2013 Chardonnay
- 2013 Left Field Club Pinot Noir
- 2012 Merlot
- 2011 Mourvèdre
- 2013 Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Viognier
- 2014 Cabernet Franc
- 2013 Cabernet/Petit Verdot/Merlot
- 2013 Kenneth Green Vintage Fortified
- NV Nancy Myatt Liqueur Fortified
There’s a great story about the Nancy. It was named after Josh’s grandmother who the last surviving ‘Myatt,’ is 94 and travels to the UK every year. Lovely sweet and fortified wine that is viscous with notes of marmalade and honey and depth that continues and continues.
This year, the winery made 90 tonnes which equated to 65000 litres and 5,000 cases of 12. They also do a lot of contract wine where other wineries bring their fruit to MyattsField and Josh and Rachel make the wine.
The Chardonnay is sourced from Manjimup while the Pinot is from Pemberton and Manjimup. They also make a Touriga Nacional by itself as well as blending it with Durif and Shiraz. We had taken up more than enough of Josh’s time, bought half a case and headed off to Plume Wine Estate nearby for lunch. Josh had recommended the place with its great view plus they served tasty food. I was surprised they also offered wine to try and so of course we tasted what was available:
- Sparkling 2012
- Chardonnay 2013
- Rosé 2013
- Merlot 2013
- Shiraz 2012
- Baudin Fortified Shiraz
We weren’t disappointed by the view or the food or the wine for that matter. It was a steep drive down to the restaurant overlooking the vineyards. A platter was $40 each so five of us shared two platters plus a bottle of sparkling as well as cake. It came to about $30 per person for lunch which I thought was pretty reasonable. Some of the wines at the estate are made elsewhere; the sparkling, rosé and merlot from MyattsField while the Chardonnay comes from Hainault.
The owners are a husband and wife team; Jim, from Holland and Audrey (from Scotland). The cellar door just opened earlier this year and they’ve been making wines for a few years. Watch this space as they’re making tracks.
Next we headed over to Core Cider House about a twenty minute drive away. Lush green fields with a small playground and plenty of long benches greeted us as we headed up to the bar to order. I shared a tasting paddle , thought I would be sensible, as I was driving, which consisted of 5 different ciders:
- Tradition Apple ‘Cloudy Apple’ – sweet at 5%
- Tradition Pear and Apple, ‘Core Reactor’ – medium dry at 6.5%
- Sparkling Apple, ‘Core Meltdown’ – semi sweet at 5%
- Sparkling Pear, ‘Peace Core’ – sweet at 3.5%
- Sparkling Lemon, ‘Pith’d’ – sweet at 8%
Core Cider House has a relatively long history for a place in the Hills, the first apples were planted in 1939 by Giovanni Battista Della Franca or Jack, as he became known. Then in 1957, the son of Jack who was known as Charlie planted a small vineyard. Ten years ago, in 2005, John (grandson of Giovanni) set up the Core Cider brand and then Emily joined the team to share the workload with John.
The cider house describe themselves as having ‘spectacular ciders, wines and fruit wines.’ I will need to return to taste through the range or go back and buy them but I found the ciders interesting – some with more of a commercial style than others. My favourite was the sparkling lemon which I did find was quite ‘pithy.’ They were also serving warm apple cider, good call for a winter’s afternoon.