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: West Cape Howe


West Cape Howe

14923 Muir Highway, Mt. Marker, 6324

Cellar Door: Daily (10 - 5)

Ph: (08) 9892 1444


West Cape Howe's original home was on WA’s busy South Coast Highway just three kilometres from the picturesque town of Denmark. After the purchase of Goundrey's 7,700 tonne wine-making facilities and associated vineyards in 2009 the operation was relocated to Mt.Barker.

The winery was established in 1997 by Brendan and Kylie Smith for their own label and to provide a contract winemaking facility.

Tired of the endless promotional work, the Smiths sold West Cape Howe, to return to a focus on wine-making. The new owners are Gavin Berry (assistant winemaker at Plantagenet until 2004) and viticulturalist Rob Quenby. Dave Cleary (a former assistant wine-maker at Charles Sturt University's Wagga Wagga winery) is also involved in the wine-making.

The profile of the winery outside of WA certainly has risen since the change in ownership.

The well made portfolio includes: Riesling, the oaked Styx Gully Chardonnay, unwooded Chardonnay, Cabernet-Merlot blend, SSB blend, Rose, Viognier, Tempranillo, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz Viognier.

Gavin Berry, wine-maker and co-owner (photo courtesy: West Cape Howe)



Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

West Cape Howe Riesling 2016

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2018 or 2024+ if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, aromatic lemon sherbet and lime rind with orange blossom and rose petal florals, the long palate is underpinned with talcy minerality, crisp and tangy orange peel acidity (****)

West Cape Howe Tempranillo 2015

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, mix of Perth Hills and Frankland River fruit, the Perth Hills component has benefitted from †a milder vintage, spicy plum and black cherry with cola and liquorice notes, earthy and medium bodied with powdery tannins and vibrant citrus acidity, seasoned French oak (****)

West Cape Howe Tempranillo 2014

Purchased: Cloudwine, South Melb ($18)

Drink: 2019

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2015, Trophy at National Wine Show 2014, as usual itís a mix of Frankland River and warmer climate Perth Hills fruit, succulent black cherry and plum with cola and black olive notes, medium bodied with the seasoned cedary oak in the background, fine chalky tannins and fresh citrussy acidity, a dab of dark chocolate on the finish (****)

West Cape Howe Riesling 2014

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2016 or 2023+ if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2015, sourced from Mt. Barker, Bronze Medal at National Wine Show 2014, quite aromatic, lemon sherbet and apple with rose petal, orange blossom and honeysuckle notes, talcy with a tangy orange rind and mineral finish, long and shapely core of fruit but in a more accessible style at the moment than many from the region (****1/2)

West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2012

Purchased: BWS, St. Kilda ($17)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, good concentration for the price point, juicy core of mulberry and blackcurrant pastille with violet florals and earthy undertones, some cedary French oak is well balanced, fine tannins, represents good value (****)

West Cape Howe Two Peeps Albany Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012

Purchased: Cellarbrations, St. Kilda ($20)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2013, from a coastal vineyard 15 kms east of Albany, 52% Sauvignon Blanc, 48% Semillon, partial barrel ferment, spicy and racy lemon sherbet, passionfruit and lychee with lanolin and dried herb notes, creamy textural mid-palate with bright orange peel acidity and restrained grassiness, competing elements are well balanced (****1/2)

West Cape Howe Tempranillo 2011

Purchased: Dan Murphys, Melb CBD ($20)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2013, mix of Frankland River and warmer climate Perth Hills fruit, supple maraschino cherry, plum and cola in a juicy, medium bodied framework, there is some black olive savouriness and a touch of fruitcake, modest presence of seasoned cedary oak and chalky tannins on the finish, fresh lemony acidity, approachable varietal drink soon style (****)

West Cape Howe Bookends Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Purchased: Dan Murphys, Melb CBD ($A23)

Drink: 2018+

(GXY) Tasting:†Nov 2012, powerful, smooth and evenly ripened blackberry and cassis with mint, violets spicy chocolate/cedar, medium-full bodied with fine tannins, well balanced and convincing commercial style (***1/2)

West Cape Howe Great Southern Riesling 2011

Purchased: Cellabrations, St. Kilda ($19)

Drink: 2013 or 2019 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2012, Trophy for Best Current Vintage Australian Riesling at the 2011 Canberra International Riesling Challenge, also Golds at Perth Wine 2011 and Sydney Royal Wine Show 2012, floral aromatics, moderately intense for the price point, a good core of green lime fruit wrapped in lemon zest, chalky grapefruit-infused minerality cuts in across the back end, good length, definitely one of the best commercial under $20 Rieslings going around (****1/2)

West Cape Howe Western Australian Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Purchased: Dan Murphys, Melb CBD ($16)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2012, from Great Southern and Margaret River fruit, crisp and lightly herbaceous style showing green capsicum, cut grass, passionfruit and lime with some waxiness on the back palate, refreshing citrusy acidity, easy drinking and good value for the price point (***1/2)

West Cape Howe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Purchased: Not ($16)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, blend of 53% Semillon, 42% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Chardonnay, the entry is well controlled, the mid-palate shows the tangy and herbal lemon sherbert influence of the Semillon with just a touch of fatness from the Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc brings the passionfruit, gooseberry and asparagus to the back half, minerally and shapely (****)

West Cape Howe Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($16)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, there is a 2% Viognier input although not co-fermented, while this is in the budget range of portfolio the extra ripeness from the warmer 2007 vintage lifts this above the austerity of the 2006 reds, stylish blackberry redcurrant and plum with white pepper, tobacco and violet notes, medium bodied and savoury with spicy creamy but charry oak, persistent and fine tannins, well balanced, good value for those who like a cool region Shiraz (****)

West Cape Howe Book Ends Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, there is a tiny Merlot and Shiraz input, perfumed brambly nose, blackcurrant and redcurrant with anise, olive and mint notes, the medium bodied and savoury palate is a bit more austere and thinner than usual due to the freakishly cool vintage, powdery mineral backbone runs through palate, the spicy and slightly charry cedar from the French and American oak fills out the back end (***1/2)

West Cape Howe Two Steps Shiraz Viognier 2006

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, there is a 5% Viognier input that provides some lift to the fragrant nose, savoury and medium bodied with elegant blueberry, mulberry and blackberry flavours showing with white pepper and floral notes, the silky Viognier input is balanced and doesn’t overpower the mid-palate, the spicy French oak contributes an unusual note of tumeric to the finish, unlike many reds from the area this wine has not suffered too much from the cold vintage but I would drink it soon (***1/2)

West Cape Howe Unwooded Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($16)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, unlike much of Australia this was a great vintage for South-Western Australian Chardonnay, the fruit is mainly from Great Southern but some is from Geographe, Pemberton and Margaret River, clean and mouthfilling showing passionfruit and tropical fruit offset with mandarin and grapefruit acidity, soft chalky finish with a touch of orange rind, very pleasant summer quaffing (***1/2)

West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2006

Purchased: IGA, High Street, Northcote, Vic ($17)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: June 2008, fairly subdued cassis and redcurrant with some white pepper mid-palate notes, medium bodied and cedary with fine tannins, minty finish with some sappy acids, the fruit ripeness shows the impact the cold and wet vintage (***)

West Cape Howe Riesling 2007

Purchased: Acland Cellars, St. Kilda, Vic ($20)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2008, light green apple and tangy lemon zest, tightly knit palate with an attractive chalky mineral finish, quite dry apart from a line of residual sugar showing, needs a touch more length to go to the top of class (****)

West Cape Howe Riesling 2006

Purchased: Acland Cellars, St. Kilda, Vic ($20)

Drink: 2009 or 2016 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2007, taut and structured green apple, lime and lemon zest with lively citric acid underpinning showing the benefits of the cool vintage, flinty mineral finish with a persistent minerality and just a touch of residual sugar showing, even greater long cellaring potential than usual (****)

West Cape Howe Book Ends Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Purchased: Acland Cellars, St. Kilda ($24)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: May 2007, harvested just before the damaging late March rains, intense blackcurrant and brambleberry with black olive and mint notes, medium palate has some savoury and herbal features, toasty oak adds some subtle cigar box notes, hint of liquorice also on the long finish, smooth tannins (****)

West Cape Howe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Purchased: Acland Cellars, St. Kilda

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: March 2006, lively bouquet and palate shows rich lime, lemon sherbert and nectarine flavours, builds up nicely, crisp lemony finish with controlled herbaceousness from the Sauvignon Blanc , one of the better SSB blends (***1/2)

West Cape Howe Riesling 2004

Purchased: Acland Cellars, St. Kilda ($16)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2005, mouth-filling and deep lime, green apple and citrus, good balancing acid on the taut and flinty finish, excellent value (***1/2)