25 September 2023

Some of Margaret River’s finest wines

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By John Rozentals.

These days, Sandalford, one of the largest brands in Western Australia, is based largely in the southern district of Margaret River, where it has a 300-hectare vineyard at Wilyabrup.

But it wasn’t always so. Sandalford very much had its roots at Caversham, in the much warmer Swan Valley to the north-east of Perth.

Hope Metcalfe … “My role is to let the grapes shine.”

In 1840, Queen Victoria granted 4000 acres on the banks of the Swan River to John Septimus Roe, the colony’s first Surveyor General, who had set aside land for Perth’s beautiful Kings Park and laid out both Perth and Fremantle.

He named his new holding Sandalford, after a priory in his native Berkshire, and established a successful vineyard there.

Among its winemakers has been Dorham Mann, son of legendary Western Australian winemaker Jack Mann, and incidentally a fine cricketer.

In the early 1970s Dorham urged his management to concentrate Sandalford’s operations in the fledgling Margaret River. The rest as they say is history.

The current winemaker is Hope Metcalfe, who has a vintage at Petaluma on her CV, plus experience in France and Oregon.

“My role is to let the grapes shine and ensure they reflect the vineyard site they’re from. The fruit source for all of wines is paramount to their success, and I’m incredibly lucky to have one of the oldest vineyards in Margaret River to work with.”

It isn’t a unique philosophy but I think it’s certainly a correct one.


Sandalford 2016 Estate Reserve Shiraz ($35): I completely agree with winemaker Hope Metcalfe that this wine fits the palate like the perfect winter coat. It’s soft, velvety and supple, yet powerful, richly flavoured and complex. It will reward a decade in a good cellar but right now it’s a great match for a hearty winter osso bucco served with winter vegetables, including, of course, creamy mashed potato.

Sandalford 2016 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($45): Margaret River produces some of the world’s greatest cabernet sauvignon, and this is a true classic of the style — blackberries and cassis over elegant French oak, and the fine, powerful tannins which will ensure that the wine potentially has a long life. As almost inevitably with great cabernet, the wine goes wonderfully with good lamb.


Sandalford 2016 Prendiville Reserve Chardonnay ($75): Sandalford’s flagship range takes its name from Peter and Debra Prendiville who purchased the company in 1991 and have majorly contributed to its pursuit of quality. I see a lot of cashew-like nuttiness in this rich dry white. Fine French oak balances the peachy fruit and draws a neat frame around the winemaker-imbued complexities derived from whole-bunch pressing and barrel-fermentation. Drink with a rustic, richly flavoured chicken dish.

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