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07 Dec 2017

BY DR MICHAEL RYAN

Success breeds success. The McHenry Hohnen label, formed in 2004, is a cornucopia of success. The founders David Hohnen and Murray McHenry are Western Australian wine royalty and their lives are an article by themselves. The success is underwritten by the product with some extremely well made and tasty wines.

David Hohnen started Cape Mentelle in the Margaret River region in 1976.  He had worked in California winemaking in 1960. He also established Cloudy Bay in Marlborough New Zealand in 1988.He has the honour of winning back to back ’83 and ’84 Jimmy Watson trophies for his Cape Mentelle Cabernet.  Moet Hennessy spied a quality product and bought him out. This enabled David to team up with Murray McHenry to form McHenry Hohnen wines.

Murray McHenry was immersed in hospitality with his family being hoteliers. The passion of the grape was calling and Murray planted 30 hectares of grapes in 1984. In 1998 he established 75 hectares becoming the Rocky Road vineyard. Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon have been the key grapes. Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Shiraz are also grown.

The concept of single vineyard wines is well entrenched. The wines of the single vineyard series are from the Hazel, Burnside and the Calgardup vineyards. Each vineyard imparts its own stamp on the wines. The Hazel is the oldest and generally produces wines of a deeper complexity. The Calgardup is the coolest producing elegant structured wines.

From these sites the range includes the Rocky Road Tempranillo Rose, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Merlot and Shiraz. The Single Vineyard series include Calgardup Chardonnay, Burnside Chardonnay, Hazel’s Chardonnay, Hazel’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Hazel’s BDX (Bordeaux Blend) and Hazel’s Zinfandel. The Rolling Stone is a Bordeaux blend and is the flagship wine. Some blended cheery wines are made under the Amigos label.

Biodynamic principals are employed in the viticultural process. Some winemakers say it doesn’t make a difference. Wine is in some ways a ‘living thing’ and hence the process that encourages happy healthy vines will always be a superior product. Composting, predatory care of insects, and natural balances of yeasts and bacteria are encouraged. The lunar cycles affecting flowering are respected as well.

Mike Sleegers is the driving force of the organic and biodynamic approach. This is encouraged by winemaker Julian Grounds. Having worked in Burgundy, Central Otago, Yarra valley and Margret River Julian has a real appreciation for cool climate winemaking and the sense of terroir.

The wine making process always begins in the vineyard. This sets up the brief on a platter to the wine maker. Natural yeasts are used in fermentation, sometimes wholly or partially. I always believe this helps give the wine a sense of its origin.

They have a tidy cellar door open every day 10:30-4:30. They also have a range of David Hohnen smoked meats worth nibbling on.

Wines tasted

McHenry Hohnen Rocky Road Chardonnay Margaret River 2016 - Pale light yellow. An exciting bouquet of stone fruits, lemon, notes of grass with just a hint of lees contact. This imparts a slight funky nose. The palate is flavoursome, with a lean acidic finish. Minimal oak influence and no malolactic fermentation make for a nouveaux style Chardonnay. Have with fish pie.

McHenry Hohnen Burnside Margaret River Chardonnay 2016 - Light yellow colour. The Nose of this wine is extraordinary. Nectarines, lemon sherbet, oaky notes, and yeast bread like aromas waft like a mirage on a summer’s day. Fully juicy anterior palate with structural acidity and French oak round this wine out. No malolactic fermentation is noted. Will cellar 10 years. Scallop and Chorizo Tapas suit.

McHenry Hohnen Margaret River Zinfandel 2014 - rich deep garnet to plum colour. Aromas of, pomegranate, with deep brooding layers of liquorice. This a super fruit bomb of lip smacking flavour supported by some fine tannins and French oak exposure. It flows over the tongue like eggs whites folding in on that Michelin Star soufflé. Have with sugar cured beef.


Published: 07 Dec 2017