Dry wit, dry wines: catching up with Margaret River’s David Hohnen & McHenry Hohnen Wines

David Hohnen of McHenry Hohnen, Margaret River, shared a selection of vinous gems last week at Australia House, London.  I’ve been following these wines closely since the winery’s launch several years ago and the range is looking intensely refined, while still remaining excellent value for money.  Click here for my in depth profile of McHenry Hohnen.

Hohnen also came out with some gems – I just love his tell it like it is dry wit. Before my notes on the wines, here’s a selection of quotes – vintage Hohnen – on:

What he’s drinking outside Australia House“I’m on trains a lot, so malt whisky and, travelling around, country ales – you’ve got to drink those here or it would be like going to France and not drinking wine, but I’m looking forward to getting on the train….”

Introducing Shiraz to Margaret River (at Cape Mentelle)“it was seen as working class – I had to call it Hermitage to sell it!”

Studying winemaking in the States, at UC Davis, California and not in Europe“they speak a fairly rough version of English too.”

Machine harvesting“the harvester doesn’t drink, doesn’t get pissed on Friday night, doesn’t have a union and doesn’t get bitten by spiders.” [And, on a more serious note, can be rallied at short notice to seize the best window of opportunity].

McHenry Hohnen Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Margaret River)

Classic Margaret River, with a ripe herbaceous and zesty lemon nose and palate.  Fresh, tight acidity makes for a mouthwatering, zingy, flavoursome wine.  So much more interesting than straight Sauvignon.  RRP c£12

McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos White 2009 (Margaret River)

Mostly Marsanne with Roussanne and Chardonnay.  The Rhone grapes lend an exotic note to this fruity, textured wine – sweet mandarin, pineapple and honeysuckle as well as fleshy apricot.  Because the barrels are 3-4 years old the fruit is clear and present, with no sweet kick of vanilla or toast – it doesn’t need it.  Again, fresh acidity keeps this trim and bright.  Super-drinkable with interest.  RRP £12-15

McHenry Hohnen Calgardup Brook Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River)

Hohnen confided that, as a young man, he’d been sceptical about the importance of place (terroir), but “had learned a lot better.”  McHenry Hohnen make three single vineyard Chardonnays.  Calgardup Brook is from the cooler site and this wine is consistently excellent (check out my notes on a vertical here) and very much in tune with Australia’s new modern, earlier picked style.  Though textural (wild yeast and lees), it has terrific line, the finish long, grapefruity and mineral.  Very precise.  Going through its shows a lovely intensity of lemon and juicy white peach fruit; oak is seamlessly integrated.  Not a jot of heaviness.  Will age very well.    RRP £16-20

McHenry Hohnen Rocky Road Chardonnay 2010 (Margaret River)

The Rocky Road site has a warmer aspect and this wine is correspondingly richer (and has probably opened up a touch more with a year’s bottle age too), while maintaining balance and line.  A creamy, leesy palate shows ripe sicilian lemon and white peach fruit, a lick of vanilla and toast too.  The finish is savoury, with sour dough wild yeast notes.  Very attractive now and will keep. RRP £16-20

McHenry Hohnen Shiraz 2011 (Margaret River)

I’m much more familiar with 3 Amigos red than McHenry Hohnen’s 100% Shiraz but, having met winemaker Hohnen’s son-in-law Ryan Walsh, I’m not surprised that it’s such a vivacious wine, more Rhone than Barossa.  Youthful in hue and on nose and palate, it’s wonderfully sappy and juicy with blood plum and sweet red berry fruit, fruit spice (black pepper and especially liquorice) with an edge of smoky bacon/charcuterie (new oak).  The tannins are ripe but firm – more fruit than wood-driven.  Probably the most attractive Margaret River Shiraz I’ve tasted in this pure fruited, perfumed, honest style. RRP £10-12

McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Red 2008 (Margaret River)

With a few years under its belt the Mataro/Mourvedre in this Shiraz driven SGM is flying, showing its trademark lavender, saddle soap and leather notes.  I’ve always enjoyed the firmness of this wine’s tannins, its balanced integrated acidity too – it’s such a food-friendly, spicy wine, the G (Grenache) showing no confection, the Shiraz spicy.  Very good and with plenty of go yet. RRP £12-15

McHenry Hohnen The Rolling Stone 2009 (Margaret River)

Hohnen says this blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot is probably the family’s favourite red.  Deep and inky, it epitomises everything Hohnen loves about red wines – tannins to the core, fruit hanging off.  A firm but finely polished backbone of tannins is fleshed out by sweet plum, black currant and berry fruit with lifted violet, balsamic, leafy tobacco and cedar spice notes; darker mocha too.  Like the other wines, it’s ripe fruited and tannined, yet as dry as David’s wit so, once again, an eminently food-friendly wine.  A very smart, seamless wine. RRP £18-20

McHenry Hohnen stockists include The Wine Society, Berry Bros & Rudd, Oddbins, Wine Rack, Majestic and Oz Wines.

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