A few days travelling around the Margaret River region in WA has increased my already high expectations of the Margaret River wines but more so for the reputation, energy and wine making prowess of a certain Michael Kerrigan. Michael was formerly winemaker for Mad Fish and Howard Park, which are big names in Oz as well as the UK, but since leaving their employment to begin a venture of his own Michael has continued to be one of the strong forces in a wine making region that Australians regard as highly as the French do Champagne or Bordeaux.
I visited a few estates before Michael’s that were in beautiful settings like Leuwin, Voyager and Cape Mentelle, all represented in the UK & all of which seem to hold Monsieur Kerrigan in rather high regard. Cape Mentelle mentioned their best fruit comes from the vineyard next to Hay Shed Hill although their winemaking and main vineyards are over 10kms to the south.
The Hay Shed Hill vineyard has one of the best locations in the MR with some elevation! North facing slopes for the reds and some south for the whites with the best soils and aged vines. Michael bought the site when it was a little run down but realised the potential and is already producing award winning wines that Mr Halliday - the Ozzie wine guru- is writing about.
Michael speaks of the vineyard in a humble manor but it is well kept and has the busiest cellar door out of all, as the food, service and welcoming staff, dog (black lab Becky), free ranging 'chooks' and obviously the wine, attract a wide range of visitors.
We shared a charcuterie board of homemade delights then quick fried octopus and a spicy lamb pizza to finish, all washed down with his K&B Riesling then HSH Block 2 Cabernet. I'm lucky enough to have eaten at many vineyards and restaurants around the world, but this was something else.
A full tasting of all of the Pitchfork, Hay Shed Hill and K&B range reinforced that we (Bancroft) are incredibly lucky to have these wines from a grower of such high standing, once again reinforced by seven employees from a local winery spending two hours for lunch and telling me that they love HSH as much as their own.
To give you an insight into Michael’s character, he lives 20 metres from the cellar door, works seven days a week, goes south every week to tend the wines and visits other growers (some contracted ones) almost weekly. He even helped on the sales and tasting desk while we were there and was about to assist in the pot wash as I left. If there ever was a super hero related to wine he would be Captain Cabernet or Super Sauvignon!!!
Written by Jason Busby