Great wine, great food & great company… definitely the best way to start a Saturday morning! I was lucky enough to do exactly that this weekend at Sittella Winery in the Swan Valley.
Sittella was started by Simon & Maaike Burns back in 1998, after buying the land in the Swan Valley and planting vines in 1993. I joined a lovely group of fellow bloggers to learn more about their winemaking processes by their son, and Sittella winemaker, Yuri Burns. We also enjoyed a tasting of Sittella wines along with sampling some treats from their menu in their beautiful new wine bar, The Nest.
Starting with a glass of Sparkling Chenin Blanc, Yuri talked about the upcoming harvest and the effect of the recent flooding on their Swan Valley vineyards. The NV Sparkling Chenin was served from a magnum sized bottle, which influences the ageing process of the wine in bottle. It is also made in the Cremant style which has half the pressure of regular method traditional sparkling, as I learnt yesterday!
We then moved into the winery, where we tried partially fermented Chenin Blanc juice, destined to become the sparkling chenin we tried earlier. Yuri then told us a bit about Sittella’s winemaking techniques. I found it very interesting that they use compressed air rather than pumps for their red wine. The compressed air is more gentle on the skins, meaning less tannin is extracted into the wine. To demonstrate we tried the 2016 Shiraz which was beautiful, smooth & fruity, and very easy to drink already!
The smell of barrel rooms is one of my favourite smells. I’m sure this isn’t weird, right? We had the opportunity to smell the brand new empty barrels Sittella will be using this upcoming vintage. I found it interesting the difference in smell between the barrels from Bordeaux & Burgundy.
Sittella has a great range of sparkling wine, but riddling (the process of turning each one of those bottles 1/4 of an inch) daily isn’t the greatest use of time with the technology advancements. Even the big champagne houses in France are using automated riddling machines for their standard 750ml bottles. Anything larger needs to be turned by hand, which Sittella still does, but the riddling machine looks after the smaller bottles.
After checking out the winery we moved into The Nest, where we were lucky enough to sample a taste of dishes from the Sittella kitchen, along with matched wines. Starting with Sparkling Chenin, Sparkling Rose & Sparkling Blanc de Blanc which was paired with Semolina Fried WA Arrow Squid with Crispy Fried Garlic, Quail Scotch Egg with Beans in Tomato, a Virgin Mary Oyster Shooter & Smoked Salmon and Avocado. Beautifully plated, and delicious food.
Next up, the white wines. The not yet released 2016 Silk, consisting of Verdelho, Chardonnay & Chenin Blanc, was very refreshing. Made with not only drinking young in mind, this wine has also got potential to be aged. Verdelho does so well in the Swan Valley, and the 2016 Verdelho is no exception, with 5% barrel fermented to add texture. Last of the whites was the 2016 Reserve Chardonnay from Wilyabrup, Margaret River. Wild fermentation, oak aged on lees, and made in the Burgundian style are all things that I love in a Chardonnay, I was hooked on the aroma alone! These 3 whites were matched with Steak Tartar (which I’d never tried before, and was so good!) & White Rabbit Mushroom Pie with Roasted Fennel Onion Soubise. Again, beautiful food, and great with the wine.
The last 2 dishes were Confit Lamb Shoulder, Potato & Feta Pie, Garden Peas & Mint Jus, and Braised Oxtail Pie with Roasted Baby Carrots. The lamb was super tender and everything was delicious. They were served with 2016 Tinta Rouge, a blend of Shiraz, Granache & Tempranillo. The 2014 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon was great drinking now, but is also recommended for cellaring to 2030. The 2016 Tempranillo is part of the Avant-Garde range, which is only available to Wine Club members and in the restaurant.
We were also lucky enough to try a couple of bonus wines, the 2014 Coffee Rock Shiraz from the Swan Valley & the 2014 Margaret River Berns Reserve, which is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Malbec & Petit Verdot. Both outstanding wines, showcasing great examples of varietal characteristics.
As mentioned, Sittella was affected by the recent floods in the Swan Valley, which provided a great water feature in the vineyard, but not such a great impact on the grapes. Sittella will still be making brilliant wine for the upcoming vintage for the non-swimming grapes, and assisted by their other vineyards around WA. However now is a great time to support local wineries, and I can highly recommend stopping in to Sittella for a wine tasting & to sample the great food.
The Nest open 9am-4pm Saturday & Sunday,
The Winery restaurant open Midday-4pm Tuesday to Sunday,
Cellar Door open 11am-4pm Tuesday to Sunday & Public Holidays.