What a find this place turned out to be!
Starting out as a dairy and vegetable farm that used to supply whaling ships (the old milking shed is now the cellar door) the farm building (dating from 1863) used to be an old coaching inn and comes replete with the ghost of ‘Whingy Sam’. This old Aboriginal farm labourer was shot dead by the farmer on nearby Smiths Beach after the farmer accused him of having an affair with his wife. Typically for the time, the farmer was found not guilty of the crime after persuading the jury that he thought he had shot a seal.
The land was purchased in the 1970’s by a mining company after lithium was found in the area but the State Government turned down its request to develop an open cast mine and instead determined the land to be a National Park.
Once the UK joined the Common Market, the dairy industry lost its primary customer, and the State Government initiated a review of the soil and climate in order to establish what other agriculture might be possible to replace the failing dairy farms. And so was born the idea of growing vines.
The current owner, Craig Brent-White, acquired the property in 1980 as a place to stay when he was in the area surfing (Craig is a septuagenarian master mariner and ex-abalone diver who guides cruise ships off the Kimberly coast when he is not running the vineyard). He planted vines in 1997. They are all dry grown using biodynamic growing methods. In a good year, the winery produces five thousand cases of wine. The winemaker is Bruce Dukes.
Our host Lisa (originally from Nottingham but a thirty year resident of these parts) was funny and charming and a veritable mine of local information. She also provided very generous pours in very nice glassware. They produce wines in three quality/price points: Cape Naturaliste Torpedo Rocks and Reserve Collection. And so onto the tasting notes:
2017 SB – very nice indeed, well balanced and lively with hints of pineapple and pear. Excellent value for money.
2017 SSB – similar in taste to the SB but with more structure and a bigger mouthfeel, also an excellent drop for the money.
2015 Torpedo Rocks Semillon – rich and smoky with plenty of malolactic creaminess. The best of the three whites we tried.
2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – with 11% Malbec added this wine was amazing with fruity black cherry and raspberry and elegant tannins to finish. They only made 2,000 bottles from the 2013 vintage.
2013 Reserve Shiraz / Cab / Merlot – only available at the cellar door, it had spice and chocolate on the nose with ripe fruit and a long but quite dry finish. They only made 900 bottles.
2012 Torpedo Rocks Merlot – cherry, liquorice and vanilla. An outstanding wine with a lovely balance and fine tannins.