The 2013 Vintage for McHenry Hohnen located in Western Australia’s idyllic Margaret River was summed by Winemaker Trent Carroll as thus:
“A wild and wet spring resulted in lower yields across all white varieties due to the unsettling effect of wind and rain on the delicate flowering period. Rainfall through December resulted in moderate temperatures and supplied moisture to the soil ensuring sound ripening conditions. A heatwave in early February brought sugar development forward however grape acids held well and resulted in a sound and early white harvest. As unnerving as some of these rain events were rewards of full tannin ripeness and flavoursome wines were the results of patience in what was a drawn out season. Another stellar Margaret River vintage.”
I love seeing horizontals (same vintage, same maker) from a winery, and unless the maker is dedicated to some lofty pursuits of single vineyard personality, not often do you get the same grape, vinified the same way to truly express the “terroir” of the region. So the chance to put wines alongside each other is always exciting.
McHenry Hohnen’s vineyards are also managed Biodynamically by Mike Sleegers which are “designed to improve the vitality and health of the soil. Over time, methods and preparations create deeper topsoil, increase root mass and depth, increase carbon capture and water holding capacity of soils – thereby improving plant health and dramatically improving the plant’s resistance to pests and disease. Natural composts and manure teas are made onsite, no chemicals are used and in the main, lunar cycles are observed in administering the biodynamic regimes.”
There is one other factor at play apart from the soils in which they’re grown: Whilst they’re all Chardonnay: I don’t know if they’re of different clonal type. Gin Gin is the most prominent in Margaret River. Also known as the ‘Mendoza’ clone, Houghton Winery first imported in 1957. It provides Citrus and sometime tropical fruit flavours during warmer vintages, whilst Burgundy/Dijon is also planted in the region.
Be it Clones or Cow-horns, there is no doubting the excellent results from Trent Carroll, Mike Sleegers and the team.
Calgardup Brook Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2013
Vineyard: Sandy, schisty. Just in-land from the coast. East-west planted on a sloping vineyard with a northerly aspect.
Nougat and polished white quartz rocks. There’s restrained white stone fruit, long ‘minerality’ and a tight, puckering acidity. The quietest of the 3 wines. Just sitting patiently in the corner, all tucked up. Have patience.
Burnside Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2013
Vineyard: Micaceous, black soils. North-West and South-East planted on a steep northerly facing vineyard.
The most pronounced. Peaches, straw and spice. A Guava and Ruby Grapefruit soft tropical sweetness. Plenty of phenolic grip and extract. Has the sharpest acid profile of the 3 wines. A little rough and ready!
Rocky Road Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2013
Vineyard: Coarse Lateritic soils. Northerly facing vineyard.
The “fullest” of the 3 wines and the most complete. Briny, oyster shell, whiskey peat and almost an “umami” savoury maturity. Salty lemon tang with white nectarine and bittersweet grape fruit. Deft balance of all parts. Personality plus.
All wines samples courtesy of McHenry Hohnen Wines.