A slightly overcast day with occasional drizzle welcomed food and wine bloggers to the second Harvest@Sittella event on March 24th – again we gathered in the rotunda on the lawns of the winery – recalling that last year, after once in a hundred year flood in the Valley, it had the waters lapping at it – today the lake was some distance away.
Yuri Berns, winemaker, welcomed us all and gave us an overview of the vintage and the history of the winery from its founding 25 years ago, in 1993, by his parents. He also talked about the commitment to produce the best WA and Australian sparkling wines – and with the acclamation give them by Australia’s leading reviewer of Champagne and Sparkling, Tyson Stelzer, it is apparent they are well on their way to achieving this. While we were listening to Yuri a glass of their NV Sparkling Rose gave flight to our tastebuds – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Pemberton – gentle blush and fragrant strawberry nose; perfect drinking any time, but especially on these warm autumn days.
Moving into the winery itself Yuri spoke about the contrasts in flavour profile brought about by use of oak from different areas, the decision of Sittella to produce wines that celebrate place rather than try to turn out a standardized wine each year – their wines are designed to show the particular characteristics of the area the grapes are grown.
Then we moved onto the Nest – the lovely little wine bar attached to the winery and restaurant – outside on the balcony shaded by gum trees and with a picturesque panorama across the lawns and lakes to the vines. Here we were indulged with delicious platters of meats, cheeses, dips and more, accompanied by a selection of the best of the wines, winding up with a signature dish from the restaurant, the exceptional strawberry basket!
Among the many wines we enjoyed, 2013 Grand Vintage “Marie Christien Lugten” the flagship sparkling – again a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the cool climate of Pemberton – lovely aromas of toasted brioche, lemons and apples, while the creamy palate is a complex amalgam of citrus and toasty notes. Long sustained finish.
A new release also impressed – 2017 Avant-Garde Field Blend – a 50/50 blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from Pemberton; it is lightly golden with a bouquet of pears and apples with some earthy flavours showing on a buttery palate. Hand-picked, whole bunch pressed, wild fermentation and minimal filtration; a complex wine showing all of the commitment of the winery to a celebration of single vineyard styles.
And a couple of excellent reds – the 2015 Berns Reserve – predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, from Wilyabrup, with a little Malbec and Petit Verdot to add additional flavour profile – fragrant bouquet showing all the usual Margaret River characters – plums and black currants, tobacco and olive leaf and mint – while the rich palate is wash with dark fruit flavours, supported by fine and supple tannins – this should develop beautifully.
And as if to show it will, out came the 2001 Margaret River Cabernet – 17 years on it is still drinking well – plums and mulberry aromas, a lush palate of plums and chocolate, soft tannins. Provides ample evidence of the staying power of Cabernets from Margaret River.
So concluded another great day in the Swan Valley -excellent wine paired with very good food at one of the most scenic wineries going around. Thanks to Sittella for the invitation and the hospitality.