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David Pike was pleasantly surprised when he took a drive to Jarrahdale recently .. and it had nothing to do with the trees.

ONE of the more obscure places around Perth you’ll find grapes growing is in the valleys surrounding the tall timber of Jarrahdale.

The Perth Hills are not often foremost in the minds of wine enthusiasts, yet there have been vines up in this part of the world since the mid 1860s. They were planted by Joseph Batt on his historic property ‘Chestnuts’, about 45 minutes south of Perth. The Jarrahdale property was purchased in 1989 by Peter Fogarty, a lawyer and CEO of smartcard/transit fare technology company ERG. Peter and his family have had a long association with the property, having developed a friendship with the former owners through Peter’s legal practice.

The Fogartys planted their first vines in 1995 and, over the next five or so years, hatched plans for the development of the Millbrook Winery. The result is one of the more spectacular wineries to have been built in WA in recent times.

The Millbrook Winery was designed by the award-winning team at Jones Coulter Young Architects, who also were responsible for Howard Park’s winery in Margaret River. When I visited shortly before Christmas I was nothing short of stunned when I drove into the property. The Fogarty family is very serious in their quest to establish Millbrook Winery and it certainly is worth a visit for anyone who has an interest in wine.

The very likeable winemaker at Millbrook is Tony Davis, who joined the Millbrook team in the latter part of 2000 and was responsible for the 2001 vin-tage. Tony has plenty of experience and is certainly a major asset for Peter Fogarty.

Tony held a senior winemaking position at Yalumba for a number of years and was the assistant wine-maker at Planta-genet wines in the early part of his career. So, while he has an enormous task ahead of him to firmly establish the Millbrook portfolio, I believe Tony has made an impressive start.

During my visit Tony and I tasted through a number of wines that are in tanks and barrels awaiting release over the next year. There were plenty of encouraging signs among the samples I tried, with a number of the reds in barrels quite stunning.

The Millbrook vineyard has about 20 acres under vine, comprising chardonnay, shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, some petit verdot from one of the Cullen vineyards in Margaret River and the emerging variety viognier. Last year a combined total of 170 tonnes of fruit was crushed, which included fruit sourced from not only the Perth hills, but also areas such as the Ferguson Valley and Donnybrook.

Tony says he will source fruit from other areas around the State that would benefit the vision he has and the quality of wines he wants to achieve. The winery has been designed to achieve a total crush of around 500 tonnes.

One of the first questions I asked Tony concerned the climate and problems with rainfall. He was quick to point out that the property was within a stone’s throw of Serpentine Dam and had a number of underground streams traversing the vineyards. The property is part of the catchment area for Perth and therefore doesn’t have any water problems. In fact there are eight dams on the property and, with marron season just open, I am told there is a plentiful supply awaiting capture.

Tony describes the climate as “continental”, with relatively high temperatures during some summer days. In the winter months the site can be susceptible to frost with cool to cold nights.

The winery produces two labels. The Barking Owl label is the less expensive range and will provide the winery with volume, while the Millbrook label is the premium wines available in limited quantities.

While I thought a number of samples from the barrel look very impressive, including a stunning merlot from the Hainault vineyard and a sexy 2001 chardonnay destined for the Millbrook label, many of the wines currently available from cellar door are also fairly smart wines. While not all of them were my cup of tea, I thought the following were worth seeking out.

Millbrook 2000 Chardonnay rrp $24.00

Showing some ripe peach, apricot and tropical aromas that follow on to the palate, which shows intensity and generosity of fruit with integrated acidity, some spice and depth of flavour.

Millbrook 2001 Sauvignon Blanc rrp $20.00

Tropical and guava aromas that lead to a palate displaying white peach, nectarine and guava flavours. The palate has complementing acidity and length of finish. Sit back and simply enjoy. Only available at cellar door.

Barking Owl 2001 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc rrp $16.00

This is a lively aromatic little number with passionfruit, grassy and snow pea aromas. The palate displays a distinctively drinkable character with plenty of flavour and value for money.

Millbrook 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot rrp $25.00

Showing vibrant perfumed plum and bramble aromas. The palate displays a powerful mix of plum, blackcurrant, mint and spice that combine with integrated tannins and savoury acidity. While drinking now, this wine will see a little improvement over the next few years.

Millbrook has a small menu running from the cellar door and is looking to open a restaurant during the next year. While limited at the moment, the menu is more than adequate and worth sampling, especially when the marron make an appearance.

The cellar door is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm.





Bites

with JULIE-ANNE SPRAGUE

While most of us spent the festive season with the feet up and the belly full, Julie-anne Sprague was pounding the pavement to get the early word on what’s happening around town.

EXPECT big things from the new West Perth restaurant Il Principe Gran Café. Umberto Tinelli certainly is, and why shouldn’t he? One of the icons of the Perth restaurant game, Umberto is renowned for creating and maintaining successful dining establishments. He was the man behind what are still some of Perth’s most popular restaurants – Chianti on Colin, Campo de Fiore and Tinelli’s. The kitchen at Il Principe will be headed by Vincenzo Sorefi, who worked with Umberto at Campo de Fiore and Chianti on Colin.

Il Principe is Italian for The Prince and, run by one of the kings in the industry, this new restaurant should add plenty to West Perth’s growing dining scene. The restaurant can seat up to 100 people and will provide relaxed Italian dining. Il Principe Gran Café is situated on the corner of Colin and Richardson streets and will open in the coming weeks for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday to Friday and dinner on Saturdays.

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La Tropicana Cafe along Cottesloe’s gorgeous beach strip on Marine Parade is adding a little something extra to match the stupendous view. New owner Colin Chazen (formerly of Subiaco’s Woodpeckers Woodfried Pizzeria) has brought a head chef into the kitchen to create an appetising menu so that you are as pleased with the food as you are with the vista. Justin Peters joins the cafe with a wealth of experience, training under chefs at Gust and Est Est Est, both popular Melbourne restaurants. He has designed a modern Australian menu with a touch of southern Mediterranean influence.

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Capella, the newest catamaran to grace Perth waters, was launched yesterday. The 42-foot vessel was unveiled at a champagne breakfast by the Minister for Tourism Clive Brown at the Red Herring Restaurant in Fremantle. Owned by Charter 1 and built by SJ Marine, the catamaran caters for 43 people, according to Charter 1 director Stefano Piviali.

The size and colour of the big cat provided the inspiration for its name, as Capella is the name of the biggest yellow star in the known universe. This luxury catamaran consists of four queen-sized separate cabins, fridges, barbeque, showers, fully carpeted comfort lounge, and is equipped with the latest technology.

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Mezzonine’s popular “jazz on the rooftop” resumes tonight. Playing tonight is the Brett Hardwick Trio. The running order of the evening will be the same as last year’s successful season – a two-course meal and a night of music for $40. For a full list on who is playing over the coming months, visit www.mezonine.com.au

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If you’re planning to see the Australia Day fireworks display this year, forget your picnic rug. Who needs to spend all day in the sun after staking out a prime viewing spot when you can turn up to Fraser’s restaurant just before the fireworks commence? Fraser’s is providing a Skyshow 2002 dinner, which starts at 6.30pm. Parking is available, taking the pain out of searching for a decent space in Perth. Getting you out of the crowd and chaos, and with one of the best views of the fireworks, this restaurant is one to be at for Skyshow 2002.

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Another venue with priceless views would have to be C Restaurant, and they’re celebrating Oz day in style. The theme of this party will be Aussie legends and it all starts at 6.30pm and runs straight through to 12.30am – what better way to miss out on the traffic by partying the night away? Tickets are $150, $120 for C Rest-aurant passport holders.

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This year marks the 35th anniversary of Vasse Felix, the first commercial vineyard and winery established in Margaret River. We’re told there will be celebrations all year round so no matter what time of year you’re thinking of travelling south, make sure you put Vasse Felix into the itinerary. The winery, purchased by the Holmes a Court family in 1987, is world renowned and its restaurant was the only regional restaurant given a two-star rating in the 2002 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide.

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After a successful entry into the Perth restaurant market, Oceanus is now broadening its horizons to incorporate entertainment and other points of interest this year. Daryl Braithwaite will perform at the first of the events for 2002. Tickets for the evening, which includes a four-course meal and Daryl Braithwaite’s 1.5-hour performance, will cost $95. The ‘Dinner Show with Daryl Braithwaite’ takes place at Oceanus on Friday January 18.

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Johnnie Walker representatives are making a trip to Perth. The scotch maker will be holding free, hour-long tastings from January 24, including a history of Scottish whisky. Different blends will be examined and there will be five different whiskies to taste. For more information visit www.johnniewalker.com.au

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Cafe de Ja Vu is open on the corner of William and Aberdeen Streets Northbridge. Opening across from Villa Italia the new owners have come to their competitor’s pasta party and provide a $9 pasta special from Monday to Wednesday. Villa Italia’s $9 pasta special runs from Monday to Thursday.

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Vat 107’s Dani Angove will be joining Howard Park to cook up some summer delights on January 19. From 11am to 3pm at the Margaret River winery, Dani will be cooking fresh Pemberton marron and yabby spring rolls to accompany Howard Park Chardonnay.

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If you made a resolution about alcohol this year it should most definitely have been to learn more about it. This year’s wine courses from the Wine Education Centre begin soon and there is a range of courses to choose from. And, for the first time, the centre is offering a four-week introductory course, which takes some of the stress out of committing to the normal eight-week wine course. Of interest are the following.

Emerging Varietal Course

Duration: Four weeks.

Commencing: Feb 4 and July 22.

Cost: $180 including GST, with booklet.

A number of emerging varieties will be profiled with a background on origin, climatic preferences, viticulture, vinification and distribution throughout the wine grape-growing world. International regions include Chianti, Piedmont, California, Rhone Valley and Alsace. There will be no formal assessment, however a certificate of attendance will be awarded.

International Varietal Course

Duration: Eight weeks.

Commences: May 6 and October 14.

Cost: $ 330 including GST with textbook and international premium wines.

Course comprises eight evening sessions, each of two hours’ duration, and provides an in-depth study of varietal wines from around the world using the systematic approach to tasting.

Varietal differences between countries,

old world/new world viticultural and vinification techniques,

international wine labelling regulations,

official categories and classification of wine in Europe.

Primary Course

Duration: Eight weeks.

Cost: $220 including GST includes a text book (Australian Wine – from the vine to the glass), vineyard visit and wine.

There is an assessment in week eight and successful students are awarded a certificate from the WIAWA. Go to www.winewa.asn.au

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