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Trip Report A taste of Perth (and vicinity)

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As a newcomer to Perth, I’m making a concerted effort to get out and see as much of my own backyard as I can. My spouse isn’t quite as motivated, but he’s a good guy and I can usually talk him into humoring me here and there.

I’ve decided to share some of these excursions as they just might help visitors to Perth who aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves while they’re here.

My intent is to add to this thread as I learn more about Perth and the surrounding area, so it’ll be a work in progress.

1) Up first, the Swan Valley

We’ve been to the Swan Valley before, but we just weren’t taken with it, so we decided to give it another try.

So we set out on a Friday in late February. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center in Guildford, where we collected a map of attractions in the area.

Then we were off to explore. We called in at Fish Tails, a small family operated winery located in Caversham. We had a nice chat, tried the Verdehlo and left with a bottle of their 2004 Merlot, which has already mysteriously vaporized.

Our next stop was Sandalford, which claims to be Australia’s oldest and largest family owned winery. The grounds and cellar door are very nice. I was particularly taken with the outdoor tables which are situated under a canopy of vines dating back to 1890. Sandalford also operates a luxury cruiser, which is used for Swan Valley wine cruises and as a function venue. They also have a restaurant with an enticing menu. In retrospect, we should have had lunch there.

http://www.sandalford.com/Home/experience-sandalford.html

We liked several of their wines, but left with a Margaret River Merlot Cabernet blend and a bottle of their Estate Reserve Chardonnay.

Back on the West Swan Road, we next found ourselves at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, where we sampled and purchased some white and milk chocolate pastilles, chatted up a guide from a bus tour and watched chocolates being made. I never tire of visiting this place whether it’s in Margaret River or the Swan Valley. I love their chocolate, but it’s not cheap.

Next up was Little River Winery, whose claim to fame is that it’s situated in Henley Brook on soil believed to be the best of the Swan Valley. I’ll have to take their word for that. We liked their 2002 Cab Merlot and their white port but at $45 and $60 respectively, we decided to go for the more reasonably priced brut. Little River has a restaurant, and we were quite hungry, but nothing on their menu spoke to us. We moved on to the Black Swan right next door, which produced its first vintage in 2001. They also have a restaurant overlooking the vineyard. Their menu sounded good, so we decided to have lunch there.

Bill chose the seared beef tenderloin with garlic cream king prawn and citrus mash ($39). I had the slow confit chicken breast with a creamed leak and pine nut filling, lyonnaise chats potato, grilled asparagus and truffle infused cream sauce ($35). Both sounded wonderful, but the food was a huge let down. Bill requested his steak medium rare, but it was well done. It had taken so long to get served and he was so hungry that he didn’t bother sending it back. My meal was okay, but not near as good as it sounded and certainly nothing to get excited about. We mentioned this to the staff on the way out and called it good. All in all it was a very disappointing and expensive lunch experience - $81 with wine.

Our final stop was at Mondo Nouget, where we sampled the nougat (which reminds me of divinity) and bought a few gifts.

It was at this point that we lost interest. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the Swan Valley doesn’t appeal to us the way other Australian wine regions do. Perhaps it’s because the valley is busy, congested and lacks the tranquility we’ve found in other wine regions. Perhaps it’s because the valley is located so close to a major city. I don’t know why exactly, but once again I left the Swan feeling a bit dejected and sad.

I’m not yet willing to give up on it though. I can’t help but think that perhaps we’ve just missed something (?) I hope to go back again for one last try before I give up on the Swan for good.

Next up: A taste of Baldivis, Jarrahdale, Pinjarra and Mandurah

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