Wine Styles

A vast spectrum of wine styles are produced in the Swan Valley. Very few other wine regions would be able to say that they are able to produce a range of wines from sparkling through to fortified styles in the one region.

The Swan Valley has a strong record of producing whites that are simple, fresh and crisp as young wines and then age for a remarkable period of time of up to 20 years, gaining intense toasty flavours. The most widely grown varieties are Verdelho and Chenin Blanc.

The most amazing feature of Swan Valley red wines is their incredible softness and drinkability at an early age. They are generally picked quite ripe accounting for the sweet fruit, and have lower tannins than wines from other regions. The reds can be equally long-lived. Some 30+ year old Cabernet Sauvignons still show delicious fresh sweet fruit flavours. Both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon have been successful.

White Wine Varieties

Verdelho
Verdelho originated in Portugal where it was mainly used for the production of fortified wines. In Australia the variety is mainly used to make dry white table wines, it is a variety that thrives in the climate of the Swan Valley. Verdelho is a crisp, full flavoured wine style perfect with or without food ideal to serve with tapas, freshly shucked oysters and perfect with most Asian cuisines.

Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc’s origins can be traced back to the central regions of the Loire Valley in France. It can be used to make Sparkling wine, dry wine and dessert style wine. It is grown extensively in the Swan Valley and often forms the basis of wines called “Classic”. The vines produce abundant crops and thrive in the warm summers and produces wine of immense flavour. The crisp dry, minerally style of chenin works well with grilled pork maybe with an apple of pear accompaniment and simply prepared fresh seafood. The sweeter style of Chenin is suited to Asian style foods, soft cheeses and desserts that are fruit based.

Chardonnay
Chardonnay is thought to have originated in the Burgundy region of France; it is grown with great success in the light soils of the Swan Valley. Chardonnay is a very versatile grape variety and can be used for a multitude of wine style. Chardonnay is one of the base wines in sparkling wine production, it can be made as and oaked or unoaked table wine. Chardonnay is the perfect partner for a creamy pasta carbonara garlic prawns or a crisp Caesar salad.

Semillon
Semillon first arrived in Australia in the early 1800’s it is thought early settlers to our shores purchased grape cuttings of Semillon from South Africa while on their journey to Australia. Semillon was grown extensively in South Africa where the climatic conditions are much the same in some regions as Australia. Semillon is mainly made into a dry style white table wine but can also with the influence of Botrytis make a very rich, luscious dessert wine. Semillon is ideal with fresh Swan Valley Asparagus and summer salads.

Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc’s origins are from the Bordeaux region of France and are grown very successfully in most regions of Australia. Swan Valley Sauvignon Blanc is described as crisp, citric and refreshing and is best enjoy young while this fresh characterises can be enjoyed to the full. Sauvignon Blanc is well suited to goat’s cheese, sushi and most fresh seafood.

Sparkling wines
Synonymous with the Champagne region in France, sparkling wines have long been the favoured drink to celebrate any occasion. In Australia Champagne is referred to as Sparkling Wines. The majority of sparkling wine produced is white but made from a base of red wine grapes usually Pinot Noir which is blended with Chardonnay and / or Pinot meuniere.

The traditional method referred to as Methode Champenoise is time consuming and expensive, but very much worth the extra effort. To the base wine a mixture of sugar and yeast known as Liqueur de Tirage is blended is then put into individual bottles and sealed. The fermentation process in the bottle then produces carbon dioxide which dissolves into the wine and creates the millions of fine bubbles.

The wine is then allowed to mature in the bottle which is stored in the invert position which allows the sediment to gather in the neck of the bottle. When the wine has sufficiently matured the neck of the bottle is frozen, the cap removed and the sediment or lees is removed from the bottle neck. Final adjustments to the wine are made and then the cork and wire cage are put into place.

Excellent examples sparkling wine made in the traditional method are available at many Swan Valley cellar doors. Served sparkling wines chilled with good friends and family for maximum enjoyment.

Red Wine Varieties

Shiraz
A dark skinned grape grown throughout the world and used to make full-bodied full flavoured red wines. Shiraz is the most widely planted grape variety in Australia and currently accounts for 40% of the total red grape crush. Shiraz can be made into a range of styles and the character of the wine varies from region to region depending on the soil type and climatic conditions in which it is grown. With its soft ripe tannins it can be made into a wine suitable for immediate consumption or aged in a combination of new and old oak to create complexity and depth. In the Swan Valley we are fortunate enough to still have some blocks of old Shiraz vines that produce a minimum yield of very high quality and complex wine. Food matches include Coq au vin, grilled red meats and dry cheddar cheeses.

Grenache
One of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. The fruit is slow to ripen so the long warm summer in the Swan Valley is perfect. The bouquet displays a fragrant mix of dark cherries, liquorice and earthy spices. Soft tannins and a medium body make the wine approachable and the perfect match for BBQ meats and seafood, soft cheese and poultry.

Malbec
One of the varieties grown in Bordeaux and also in vast amounts in Argentina, the variety enjoys a warm ripening period which perfectly suits the Swan Valley region. Soft in tannins and low in acidity, deep purple in colour with a nose of liquorice, mocha and dark cherry. Food pairings include Charcuterie, Char grilled meats, Osso Bucco and vegetarian lasagne.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon’s origins came about by a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in the 17th century in Southwest France. Today is it one of the most widely recognised grape varieties in the world. The taste and nose of Cabernet Sauvignon is predominately that of black currants and pepper and vines grown in cooler climates also display hints of mint or eucalyptus. Perfect partners for this wine variety are roast lamb, pasta in a rich tomato based sauce and aged cheddar and soft rind cheeses.

Petit Verdot
Made as both a single varietal and used as a blend with other red wine varieties, Petit Verdot is gaining a very strong following in the Swan Valley. Dense in colour, highly aromatic with aromas of blueberries and violets, herbaceous and spice flavours on the palate. Best matched with rich foods including hearty casseroles, roast dinners, game and strong cheddar cheese.

Tempranillo
A Spanish grape variety that is firmly established in Western Australia. Dark cherry, all spice and mulberries are just some of the descriptions on the nose and palate. Medium to full bodied Tempranillo is an outstanding food wine. Tapas, BBQ’s, pork spare ribs and roasted eggplant with a rich tomato sauce.

Merlot
Merlot is used as a varietal wine style and also used extensively in blending particularly with Cabernet Sauvignon to complete the full flavour spectrum and to give balance. The variety originated in Bordeaux in France and is now the third most popular red grape variety grown in Australia. Flavours of plum, red currant, game, earth and leather can all be found, ageing in soft French oak adds further complexity to this very popular medium bodied wine. Roasted Mediterranean vegetables drizzled with olive oil and served with goat’s cheese would be perfect or the earthy flavours of duck or a good pate would also work well with this wine.

Fortified Wines & Liqueurs

Fortified wines
Once tremendously popular fortified wines fell away from favour for many years, but recent awareness of their versatility and luscious flavours has seen a huge return to popularity. Fortified wines are often described as “Liquid Sunshine” as the fruit is left on the vines in the hot summer sun for much longer than normal.

These results in berries that are semi dried and the grape sugars and flavours are intensified in the small amount of juice that is obtained when they are pressed. The term Fortification means the addition of a small amount of brandy spirit to the partly fermented wine; this is then left to mature usual in oak barrels. The finished wine is very rich and complex with a sweet and mouth filling flavour. Fortified wine styles include Tokays, Muscat’s and port styles. Enjoy them with desserts, blue cheese and dark chocolate.

Pedro Ximenes
Pedro or PX to his friends, this grape variety is thought to have origininated in the Canary Islands and made its way into Europe around 1560. A white grape variety historically used to make fortified and dessert wines it thrives in the rich soils and warm growing conditions of the Swan Valley. It is also often used for blending and to make botrytis dessert wine styles. The perfect winter warmer with lemon tart, dark Chocolate or poached pears.