Thursday, July 11, 2019

Winter wines with Margaret River winemaker, Tony Davis

What could be better than watching the wintery weather outside while you’re cuddled up, warm by the fire, in your holiday home? This sounds pretty perfect to us.


If you have a particular favourite wine you keep going back to, that’s perfectly okay, but if you’d like to venture out and try something new, we’ve tracked down an expert. We spoke with independent winemaker Tony Davis, co-owner of Snake and Herring, about which wines are perfect for winter, the up-and-coming varieties, and where he loves to sit back and quietly savour a good drop.


Snake + Herring Cellar Door

Snake + Herring Cellar Door in Wilyabrup. Image courtesy @snakeandherring


About Tony

Growing up in South Australia, Tony discovered his love of wine through frequent visits to the famed Barossa Valley. He’s been making wine all over the country since 1992, including at South-West wineries Millbrook Winery and Howard Park. Now he’s an independent winemaker with partner Redmond Sweeny at Snake and Herring, creating outstanding produce. They don’t own a winery; rather, they handpick grapes from a select group of producers across the Margaret River and Great Southern regions.


Snake and Herring wines have a splash of personality, with each type bearing the name of a song. “Generally, the song names have something to do with the vineyard, something we’re trying to achieve, or something unique about that batch of fruit,” Tony tells us.


For example? “We’ve got a chardonnay called Corduroy – this is a Pearl Jam song. The vineyard the chardonnay comes from has a well-drained slope that, from the top, looks like a sheet of corduroy fabric.”


The brand features strongly at Dunsborough’s standout award-winning Yarri Restaurant and Bar, which is part-owned by Tony and Redmond, in partnership with Tony’s wife Sally and renowned chef Aaron Carr.


Is it true that reds are for winter and whites for summer?

It’s a common school of thought that reds are best suited to winter and whites for summer but this isn’t necessarily the case, he says.


“I think big, complex chardonnays are great for winter. Sometimes you need an uplifting wine that’s got a bit of crispness and zing,” he explains. “Red wines excel because they are full-bodied. In winter we tend to eat richer food, so they’re a great match for that.”


Tony says it’s all about the setting and context; sometimes you’ve chosen the wrong context, not the wrong wine.


Red, white, Rose – they’re all an option in the winter


Which wines for winter?

Go against the grain and try a white this winter.


“I’d be getting stuck into chardonnays – 2018 was a great year in WA,” he says. “They’ll be nice and bright and crisp in their youth, but give them a couple of years and they’ll develop into something more complex.”


“Don’t be afraid to experiment. Rosés can be great in winter, as can a lovely Riesling.”


And for red wine enthusiasts, Tony’s favourites are cabernet blends. “They’re ideal this time of year. They’re a fantastic match for a great scotch fillet or rib-eye or even a slow-cooked lamb dish.”


Photo by Jo Wyld

What new varieties should you look out for?

Bored of your shirazes and cab savs? There are lots of other varietals on the market that will open up a whole new world for your tastebuds.


First on the list for Tony is Tempranillo, a Spanish red similar in weight to cabernet sauvignon that’s starting to make waves in Western Australia. “Tempranillo is a great rustic variety. It has a nice earthy tannin and it’s fantastic with slow-cooked meats and meat cooked over hot coals.”


Grenache, its ubiquitous in the Old World, highly regarded in the Rhone Valley, France, is also starting to get lots of attention. For Tony, this is a great all-rounder that’s well-suited to growing in dry sites with have warm summers. Similar in weight to a medium-bodied shiraz and beautifully perfumed, “it’s pinot on steroids,” according to Tony.


It’s not just the ‘new’ varieties, however; there have been changes in how wine is made across the board. There has been an evolution in taste over recent years, he says, with red wines now juicier, more vibrant, and fresher. There is also a trend for less yeast and additives.

Where can we find Tony with a glass in his hand?

So, where does a winemaker go when he wants to savour a great glass? One place, of course, is Yarri, but you can also find him at Wild Hop Brewing Company in Yallingup, enjoying the food and the view. Or, he’ll be on the shores of Yallingup or Meelup, depending on the time of day.


Wine in hand, spectacular coast in front. You don’t get more South-West than that.



Curl up with a glass of wine and relax this winter. Browse our portfolio to discover your dream holiday home.


You might also like:

Wine touring in Margaret River

Luxury wine experiences in the South-West

Wine-tasting tips for beginners

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