Western Australia – Margaret River – great wine and surf
A unique combination in Australia's west
By Louise Johnson
Cape Mentelle is an iconic Margaret River wine producer. Here in the south-west corner of Australia, and one of the world’s most remote wine regions, you can rest on a white sand dune with the Australian continent at your back and the Indian Ocean stretching to the western horizon, and enjoy some of the best wine you’ll ever taste.
Senior winemaker Rob Mann grew up in a family surrounded by wine and winemakers. "It was not until I was in high school and my mother suggested I take up my grandfather's profession and become a winemaker that my future plans became clear to me and I have never looked back, although I am still envious of the fighter pilots on aircraft carriers," he says.
His first job was working weekends at his Aunt's winery, Lamonts, in the Swan Valley, where he grew up. "I was eight years old and my job was to drive the old tractor out to the lemon orchard to dump the red grape marc. I don't think the tractor had any brakes so it was first introduction to the stress and excitement of vintage."
Robert joined Cape Mentelle as Senior Winemaker in December 2005. He completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, majoring in Oenology, at the University of Adelaide and since then has worked as Assistant Winemaker and Winemaker at various wineries in Australia and Europe. Prior to joining Cape Mentelle he was Senior Winemaker at Hardy’s Tintara Winery in McLaren Vale.
He says the best wine he ever made was a single vineyard Shiraz from Blewett Springs in McLaren Vale during his time at Tintara.
“It was a wine I did absolutely nothing at all too. The greatest wine you can make will have the least amount of winemaking. I think there will be some great Cape Mentelle wines from the 2009 vintage made with a similar 'hands off' approach.”
Cape Mentelle follows sustainable viticulture practices, getting as “close to organic” as possible. Rob says the 2009 is shaping up to be a very good year in Margaret River with great prospects for both whites and reds.
“I think particularly Cabernet will excel in 2009 owing to the strong season and moderate yields along with all the work we have been putting into our vineyards over the last few years.”
As one of Margaret River’s ‘founding five’ wineries, Cape Mentelle pioneered many of the region’s renowned wine styles. Awards, including consecutive wins of Australia’s most prestigious wine trophy with the iconic cabernet sauvignon in 1983 and 1984, helped to put Margaret River on the map.
Rob says the goal is not to make wine that everyone will like rather wines that many will love.
“Our 2006 Shiraz will confuse some people, it represents a truly expressive and distinct wine of great individuality from a very cool vintage and stands apart from many peoples expectations of Australian Shiraz.”
The cellar door at Cape Mentelle is a real gem.
“Everyone who visits Cape Mentelle is amazed at the relaxed feel and ambiance generated from the long drive in and peaceful native setting and rammed earth architecture of the buildings. We do not have a flash cellar door or restaurant rather we focus our attention on what is on the inside of the bottle.
“We have some cellar door only wines including a Sangiovese and a selection of Rhone inspired whites including a dry Viognier, a sweet botrytis Viognier and a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne,” he says.
331 Wallcliffe Road
Phone: 08 9757 0812
Robert’s top three stops in the Margaret River
Born in the region into a family of winemakers, Rob knows the best way to get the best from a stay in the region. His top three stops are:
“The neighbouring wineries of Cullen and Vasse Felix both have fantastic wines and restaurants, providing a great Margaret River experience.”
Phone: 089755 5277
Corner Caves Road & Harmans Road South
Phone: 08 9756 5000
“Gather together a very cold bottle of Chardonnay, a fresh crunchy baguette and some pork rillette with a like minded friend and make your way to Surfers Point at Prevelly. A local ritual to see the end of the day and the sun set over the Indian Ocean while admiring the odd surfer sliding down the face of one of Australia's best waves.”
Phone: 08 9780 5911
“If you find yourself on the main street of Margaret River then a beer at Settlers Tavern followed by dinner at Wino's or Must restaurant is the go to experience great local food with excellent wine lists catering for both local, interstate and international wine lovers.”
114 Bussell Hwy
Phone: (08) 9757 2398
Rob’s perfect day
“Up early for a surf at one of the many great breaks along the coast followed by a walk of a section of the Cape to Cape track with a visit to one of the many spectacular caves to truly feel the sheer beauty of this very unique, spectacular and strongly maritime influenced region. End up at Cape Lodge for a hot tub and rub down and simply order the degustation menu at the restaurant for the ultimate in Margaret River luxury and hospitality to complete the day.”
- Margaret River (WA)
To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.
To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >