West Cape Howe winemaker is happy to be home, and it shows

WINEMAKER Brenden Smith and his team are producing some pretty impressive wines at West Cape Howe, situated about four minutes from Denmark. I suggest you watch out for the wines from this label!

West Cape Howe looks set to firmly establish itself as a leading winery in the Great Southern.

Brenden Smith and his wife, Kylie, established West Cape Howe in 1997. At the time it was the first dedicated contract winemaking facility in the State. Brenden was a Roseworthy graduate and has shaped his skills at a number of leading wineries, including Wirra Wirra, Woodstock, and when working for a large co-operative winery in the Languedoc region of France.

Brenden’s home town is Denmark so, when an opportunity arose to become chief winemaker at Goundrey, it was to be a welcome return home. During his time at Goundrey, Brenden achieved acclaim for his winemaking styles and produced a number of medal-winning wines.

The opportunity to set up their own venture in Denmark was a dream come true for both Brenden and Kylie. West Cape Howe now has a clientele list of more than 24 different labels and processes more than 850 tonnes of fruit.

Brenden and his team make more than 110 individual wines. The focus is producing quality, small volume premium wines for producers in and around the State’s South West.

This vintage, West Cape Howe crushed about 120 tonnes and will produce approximately 8500 cases of wine. The plan is to increase production to around 150 tonnes and 10,000 cases over the coming years.

The West Cape Howe label design includes seahorses as a reminder of the charting of the south-west coast by Dutch explorers in a ship called the Gulden Zeepaard (Golden Seahorse). The winery’s fortified muscat picked up a national label design and packaging award in 2000.

There is a fabulous cellar door open for visitors daily from 10am to 5pm. The views of the valley and vineyards surrounding the property from the rammed earth building are spectacular, and the expansive verandah will have you stretched out and very relaxed in no time at all.

West Cape Howe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2001 rrp $15.50 17/20 points

This is simply fantastic value for money. Vibrant tropical fruits leap out at you, passionfruit, guava, with a hint a herbaceous grassy aromas. The palate displays intense flavours that will not allow you to stop at just one glass. The fruit is rich, ripe and shows good acid integration. Plenty of zing, zang and length of palate. A must for the shopping list.

West Cape Howe Unwooded Chardonnay 2001 rrp $15.50 16.75/20 points

Normally I am not a raving fan of unwooded chardonnays, however I am making an exception with this wine. Fermented in 100 per cent stainless steel, this wine shows off the ripe flavours of tropical stone fruits. And, at 14 per cent this is no fluffy wine. The citrus-like, almost grapefruit, aromas are intense. The palate backs up the intensity of aromas with mouthfilling ripe melon and peach flavours, with just a tickle of citrus lemon. It has a crisp finish with plenty of gusto.

West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2000 rrp $ 16.50 17.50/20 points

This wine has been given top-notch treatment, and it shows. In the value for money stakes this is better than a dollar dazzler. At 65 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 35 per cent merlot, the wine was left 50/50 in new French and American oak for nine months and bottled in January this year.

The nose of this wine is fragrant and very enticing, as there is a mass of ripe berry fruit aromas that are complemented with mocha and spice notes. Once the wine is inside your glass you will begin a journey you will want to repeat a number of times. You travel through a forest full of rich and seductive fruits and entwine with elegant use of oak that leaves a silky smooth long trail. Seriously good value for money.

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