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21 April 2016 - Denmark Wines...... the secret is out!

By Elaine Wood (Visiting from the U.K.)

Photos supplied by Lake House Denmark, Howard Park Wines and Somerset Hill Wines.

Having spent the last 4 years studying for the WSET Diploma, I tend to holiday in wine growing regions. Not that I am complaining as this has taken me to some beautiful parts of the world and Denmark, WA is up there with the best. What can be better than a morning stroll along a beautiful secluded beach, followed by an afternoon tasting good quality wine?

I had little knowledge of this wine area before my visit and was overwhelmed by the quality of the wine this small area produces.
My taste buds were in heaven.

Denmark is not the easiest place to grow grapes, predominately a Mediterranean climate, with influences from the Southern Ocean. Humidity after rain can cause rot and inconsistent weather means grape varieties struggle to ripen fully. I have found that some of the world’s best wines are produced when grown in this type of “marginal” conditions.

Most of the wineries are along Scotsdale Road. The Tourist Information Centre provides a map detailing all the cellar doors open to the public.

My Top 3 Wineries to visit:
The Lake House

We combined our tasting here with one of their famous lunch platters. Neither disappointed nor even on a rainy day the view was still beautiful. The wines certainly didn’t disappoint and it was here that I tasted the best Chardonnay of my Western Australia trip:

2011 Premium Reserve Single Vineyard Chardonnay

A real freshness with this wine which is characteristic of a cool climate Chardonnay. Lots of complexity from layers of intense fruit, white peach and citrus, spicy oak WITH a creamy texture. A long lingering finish it really is a stunner of a wine.

Howard Park

Unfortunately Howard Park CLOSED the Cellar Door in Denmark as of Sunday 29th January 2017. They still operate in Margaret River.
The largest family owned winery in WA with a wide range of wines on offer. The staff here are both personable and knowledgeable. A lot of the wines on offer for tasting made from grapes grown in various areas of WA most of them using biodynamic viticulture. Howard Park also enjoy a joint venture with Pascal Marchand, a well-respected Burgundian winemaker and the Denmark winery stocks Grand Cru Burgundy. Now that I didn’t expect to find along with the Marri and Karri trees that surround this beautiful winery.

2013 Howard Park Scotsdale Shiraz

My pick of the wines tasted. Elegant and refined, this reminded me of a well-made Northern Rhone Syrah. The nose is so inviting with aromas of ripe black fruits along with fruit cake and cedar. On the palate the layers of dark fruit are supported by the fine grained tannins and refreshing acidity. It is suitable for drinking now, but the bottle I purchased will sit patiently on my wine rack for at least 8- 10 years when I expect the flavours to have evolved into something even more exciting.

Somerset Hill

Denmark’s answer to Champagne.
A little difficult to locate and make sure you drive to the bottom of the drive to find the tasting room. The tasting room is located inside the winery and the tasting table itself is supported by oak barrels. Immediately you are made to feel relaxed and at home. Graham Upton makes a variety of wines including sparkling wine using the traditional method, in other words they make sparkling wines in the same way as they do in Champagne. I tried and very much enjoyed.

2011 Pinot Chardonnay (with a touch of Pinot Meunier)

Brioche, toasty, creamy with a hint of tropical melon and refreshing citrus. Lovely small persistent bubbles and a lingering length. A delightful wine designed for a lazy sunny afternoon. All grapes for this wine are grown in Denmark.

2013 Semillon/Sauvignon

This was a lovely pure example of what cool climate grapes and good winemaking techniques can achieve Pure citrus fruit, and hints of passionfruit, crisp acidity and a long finish. A very rounded wine. All grapes for these wines are grown in Denmark.

Celestine Retreat was an ideal base for my Great Southern Wine adventure with many of the wineries close by. Further afield the wine areas of Albany, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup are just a short drive away. If you want a change from the beach and wine tasting here are my Top 5 alternatives.

  1. Lunch at Salt & Pepper, Forest Hill Winery.
  2. The Denmark Bakery, can recommend the sausage rolls!
  3. A stroll along the river to see the pelicans.
  4. Coffee and People watching in Denmark town centre.
  5. Sitting on the Balcony at Celestine Retreat with a glass of local wine.

Elaine Wood

The Lakehouse Denmark - 106 Turner Rd Denmark WA

Howard Park Denmark Cellar Door – 241 Scotsdale Rd Denmark WA

Somerset Hill Wines – 540 Mcleod Rd Denmark WA

Pepper & Salt Restaurant at Forest Hill Winery - 1564 South Coast Hwy, Denmark WA

Denmark Bakery - Shop 9, Fig Tree Square, 27 Strickland Street, Denmark WA

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Celestine Retreat, 413 Mt Shadforth Rd, Denmark, Western Australia. (08) 9848 3000




Updated 11 February 2017