You may not know it, but the Swan Valley is the capital of Chenin Blanc in Australia, producing some of the best Chenin you’ll taste anywhere in the world. With International Chenin Blanc Day on June 20, you have the perfect excuse to get the gang together for a day out in the valley.
The region has a rich history in producing Chenin Blanc, with vines originally coming from South Africa – some are over 50 years old! Perfectly suited to its warm climate, there are over 30 Chenin Blanc winemakers in the Valley and in the last 5 years, a host of younger producers have been experimenting with different styles.
So, if you’re keen to try some award-winning Swan Valley Chenin, we’ve put together the perfect wine tour itinerary for you!
The Kosovich Family have been making wine since 1922, when John Kosovich’s father Jack planted the first vines after emigrating from Croatia before WWI – some of the original vines still stand at the entrance of the property. Tastings are held at their underground cellar, which was dug out by Jack and his brothers, providing an atmospheric background for your tasting experience.
Made from hand harvested grapes, their Chenin is a dry style, supported by fine acidity with the flavours of the grape showing through. Their current release is a Bottle Aged Chenin Blanc from 2013, which won a Gold Medal and Trophy at the Singapore Airlines Swan Valley Wine Show in 2018. Their aged Chenins are released generally after about 6 years in a bottle.
“As Chenin ages, it goes from the young fresh apple tones and flavours through to a limey and toasty noted wine when it hits the 6 year mark,” said winemaker Arch Kosovich.
Under current circumstances, tastings will be kept intimate in groups of four, which you will have to book in for by phoning 9296 4356. If you are lucky, you may have Arch himself taking you through the wines. Last tastings commence at 4pm. See more here: http://johnkosovichwines.com.au/
With over 100 years of experience in making wine, Corymbia organically dry farm (i.e. without irrigation) their grapes at their Marri-shrouded vineyard in Upper Swan. Now run by Robert and Genevieve Mann, Rob’s late Grandfather Jack Mann helped pioneer Chenin in the region.
“There are now some complex, gnarly old Chenin Blanc vineyards in Western Australia, in particular the Swan Valley, that are being farmed meticulously to produce complex, layered, textural and serious Chenin Blanc wines,” said Genevieve.
Using indigenous yeast produced at their vineyard for fermentation, they produce a bright Chenin, with flavours of lemon, tonic and oyster shell, adding a subtle salinity.
Corymbia will be open for vineyard visits and tastings by appointment only. You can book in by calling Genevieve on 0439 973 195. See more on their website: https://www.corymbiawine.com.au/
Set on the banks of the Swan River, Riverbank Estate have been making wines for 30 years, opening the restaurant in 1999. With a beautiful manicured lawn overlooking the vines, and panoramic views over the river, it’s also a popular spot for loved-up couples to tie the knot.
With notes of granny smith, cut straw and poached pear, Riverbank produces a dry style Chenin, which can be consumed youthful and fresh, or cellared for several years to develop a rich toastiness. Their current vintage received a bronze medal at both the 2018 Singapore Airlines Swan Valley Wine Show, and the 2018 Mt Barker Wine Show of WA.
Located within their restaurant, their cellar door will be back open for tastings, from Saturday June 6 onwards. They’ll also be hosting a 5 course ‘Chenin Blanc Dinner’ to celebrate the big day on June 20. Visit their website for more details: https://www.riverbankestate.com.au/
Located in the north east corner of the Swan Valley at the base of the Darling Scarp, Faber planted their vineyard between 1998 and 2000. They have always done sit-down tastings, offering a personalised touch, with winemaker John Griffiths bringing wines for tasting to the table. You’ll be happy to know that they also offer platters to pair with your wines.
With over 25 years experience making Swan Valley Chenin, including the iconic Houghton White Classic, John makes a crisp, bright style Chenin from grapes hand-picked and juice cold-fermented in the tank. It’s a stunning wine that can be enjoyed either young or cellared.
From June 6, their cellar door studio will be open Fridays through Sundays 11am to 4pm. See more on their website: https://fabervineyard.com.au/
With a verdandah offering incredible views across the vines and the valley, vibrantly green at this time of year, Sittella is often scouted as a wedding location and is known for their award-winning wines and restaurant.
Sittella’s Methode Traditionelle Sparkling Chenin Blanc is one of the top selling sparkling wines in WA, and the only to appear on annual Australian sparkling review Tyson Stelzer’s ‘Hall of Fame’.
With an indoor and outdoor area, plus a separate bar aptly named ‘The Nest’, they will be open for cellar door tastings from Tuesdays through Sundays from 10am – 3pm. More details here: https://www.sittella.com.au/
Another one to look out for, with a pop-up cellar door in the works for later in the year, Garth Cliff, president of the Swan Valley Winemakers Association and Young Gun of Wine, starting making wine under Vino Volta in 2018. He produces 4 different styles of Chenin, including a Pet Nat, where the fermentation process is finished in the bottle, leaving a lot of spritz.
For something more fruity, go for the Nothing Wrong with Old School, which is very pristine and showcases the raw fruit, with a lot of structure. Or, if you prefer something a little more textural, their Funky & Fearless is barrel fermented, and has lanolin characters.
“Chenin is an underdog grape variety. It’s a classic grape, but hasn’t had it’s moment in the sun. With great fruit and good acidity, it lends itself to flexible wine making,” Garth said.
Ahead of their cellar door pop-up, Vino Volta wines are available for purchase on their website or at The Wine Thief, King Somm, The Boatshed Wine Loft and the Re-Store in Leederville.
Image credit: Feature Image – Tourism WA.
See All Swan Valley Chenin Winemakers