There’s not a breath of wind, nor a cloud in the sky as I stand on the Perth foreshore waiting for my ride to arrive. A mixture of trepidation and exhilaration takes hold as the helicopter approaches. It’s not every day that you get whisked away from COMO The Treasury in a chopper for a wine and food adventure in the Perth Hills wine region.
Within moments, we are cruising 1,500 feet above Perth in a Robinson R44 helicopter, courtesy of Rotorvation. The cityscape fades swiftly into the distance as we approach the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. We follow the magnificent coastline past Fremantle, Rottnest and Garden Island, before veering eastwards towards the Perth Hills, where our destination awaits – Millbrook Winery.
This incredibly scenic flight takes less than 20 minutes and soon we are immersed in undulating hills, boutique vineyards, granite outcrops and a never-ending jarrah forest.
Winemaker Damian Hutton greets us with a glass of Chardonnay. I sip this wonderfully rich wine and marvel at the stunning vista. This is just the beginning of the COMO food and wine experience. And I am salivating at the thought.
Hidden amongst the hills
Millbrook Winery is tucked away in the historic township of Jarrahdale, 60-kilometres south east of Perth. The estate has a gravity-fed winemaking system, barrel hall, tasting room and award-winning restaurant.
Built from local stone and rustic wooden beams, it is easy to see why many a couple have exchanged wedding vows in this picturesque and serene environment.
We are shown into the barrel room where Hutton presents us with the impressive Millbrook red wine portfolio.
“I’ve selected five red varietals for you to create a Cabernets blend,” Damian instructs. “It must have good complexity and length for long-term cellaring.”
The next hour is spent merrily tasting and blending until the final selection is bottled. Damian hands me the wine and smiles, “Enjoy this when you return to
the hotel.” This is an instruction I intend to follow.
Food for the soul
A four-course degustation of modern Australian fare has been prepared by chef Guy Jeffreys. There are generous servings of charred octopus with safflower mayonnaise and chorizo; roasted duck with heirloom vegetables; rainbow chard and ricotta tortellini; and snapper with lavish shavings of truffle.
Just when I think I can’t eat another bite, Guy presents a platter of dulce de leche donuts with latte ice cream.
It’s been nearly a decade since Jeffreys entered Millbrook restaurant and began its transformation to a sustainable kitchen focused on local produce.
This is obvious from the moment you step into the kitchen garden, a precious patch of earth that is brimming with row upon glorious row of heirloom vegetables, citrus, stone fruit, olive and chestnut trees.
“No fruit or vegetables have been purchased for two years,” Jeffreys states with pride.
“This garden writes the menu for us. We pick the produce each morning and create our menu based upon those ingredients.”
As the late afternoon sun paints the landscape in hues of dusty pinks, we leave this special place. A short helicopter ride later and we are at the COMO hotel, sated and content. I am tempted to languish in the luxurious room of this urban hotel that has been faithfully restored to its 1840s grandeur, but it is time to explore the State Buildings precinct and see how the locals unwind.
The impressive choice of restaurants and bars includes Wildflower, Petition Kitchen, Bar and Wine Room, Post osteria, Treasury Lounge and Bar, and Long Chim restaurant. There is also the Shambhala spa, gym and indoor pool.
It’s the little things that have made staying at the COMO such an unforgettable experience. A handwritten note and warm welcome from the General Manager, a drink on arrival, daily breakfasts at the historic Post restaurant, as well as a complimentary mini-bar and valet parking.
The Gourmet Escapade continues – read on in the Nov/Dec issue of Selector.