We visited Windows Estate in Margaret River five years ago and made two interesting discoveries.
The first discovery was understated elegance. The vineyard and cellar door exuded minimalistic simplicity. We tried their wine on that first visit and loved it. And we weren’t alone. The vineyard was gaining a reputation for making good wine, even being named Australia’s small producer of the year in 2012. With the recognition and publicity, could Windows Estate retain its wonderful flair?
A subsequent visit, last September, confirmed that it could. The cellar door remained a welcoming oasis, the land remained splendid and green. And now you could supplement your wine with cheese. Not just any cheese, but the best from Yallingup Cheese Company which, like Windows Estate, is organic and artisan. Windows’ owners, Chris and Jo, are certainly doing it right.
Our second discovery on that first visit was a small orange book called The Widow Cliquot. A quick read of the back cover compelled us to buy it. It may seem curious to find this book here, at Windows, in the far corner of southwest Australia. But really its not curious at all. Windows produces a delightful “mousseux”, or sparkling wine. And the Widow Cliquot is all about champagne.
Windows’ sparkling wine is made in the traditional champenoise method, a method proven to deliver excellent wine. The champenoise method took centuries to develop, and you can read about it in The Widow Cliquot. The story goes something like this …
Originally a center for sheep and wool, the Champagne region started producing wine and giving it away at fairs as a gimmick to attract customers. Modern readers might be surprised to learn that the early Champagne wines were more brown than either red or white, and still (without bubbles). But that was Champagne wine in the middle ages.
Things changed in the 17th century. For reasons unknown, at least at the time, bubbles began appearing in the wine. To local producers this was a problem and they did everything they could to eliminate the bubbles and get back to their traditional, still, wine. Leading the anti-bubble crusade was none other than the cellar master of the Abbey at Hautvillers, a local wine producer. This gentleman was named Dom Pierre Pérignon.
Try as he might, Dom Pérignon failed at his task. He found there was no way to get rid of the bubbles. What he didn’t know and, indeed, what no one knew, is the bubbles were thanks to climate change – a mini ice-age that peaked in the 17th century. But that’s another story. Thanks to Dom Pérignon’s abject failure the destiny of the Champagne region changed from sheep to chic. The local wine went from dark to light, from sweet to dry and from bubbly to sparkling. Of course this didn’t happen over night. It required a few lucky breaks, war, perseverance, the Russians, the British and a fair share of twists and turns. You can read all about it in The Widow Cliquot.
Back to Windows Estate… a more tranquil journey than champagne’s, but nevertheless one of relentless work and dedication and it shows… just take a look at Chris’s hands… You can also take a look at their local art, sample local cheese, and select a bottle or two of excellent local wine. And you can meet the Davies … something I look forward to doing again next month!