Margaret River Pioneer at Ballymaloe
The Margaret River visited East Cork yesterday.
After cricket and a kite surfing demo on the lawn, the action in Ballymaloe moved in to the Grain Store where Australian wine legend (and founder of New Zealand’s Cloudy bay) David Hohnen produced a team of six scintillating wines, three in white and three in red.
David, of McHenry Hohnen, is a brilliant speaker for an occasion like this, delivering solid information with wit and with sharp brevity.
He did repeat himself a bit though. Well, just one phrase. “Take a step back.” He was talking passionately here about letting the wine “work itself out” and was a bit worried that modern technology and courses were giving students both the knowledge and the means to interfere too much in the process.
He did some interfering himself though when he started off in 1966/67, when varieties were not mentioned on the bottles. In the morning, they made claret; at lunch-time, they added dye and so made Burgundy in the afternoon!
David is a firm believer in blends, believing that they can add up to more than the sum of their parts and that belief was illustrated by four of the six wines.
“I won’t buy a bottle sealed by a piece of bark,” he declared, not for the first time, one suspects. He is a firm advocate of the screw cap, going as far as to say that in forty years of making wine, the screw cap was the most significant technical innovation, both for the maker and the consumer. “Both can have great confidence in the screw cap.”
And from one timber to another. Oak has its uses, he said, but as a container. “We don’t seek to add aromas, texture or flavour via the barrel.” They import older used barrels and the oak, at that stage, has little influence on the wine.
He highly praised modern machinery in the vineyard, especially for harvesting. “It doesn’t get pissed on Fridays and gets the work done in the window of opportunity.”
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2011
3 Amigos, 2008
Calgardup Brook Chardonnay, 2010
All three were excellent and all three have been marked in the mid 90s by James Halliday, but it was the 3 Amigos that caught my attention. I liked this, so rich and creamy, full bodied. David said it was one of their “new direction wines, a lovely delicious style, beautiful, a pure natural wine.”
3 Amigos, 2007
Tiger Country, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006
Once again a superb set. The Shiraz was “very much Shiraz, lovely, clean and sharp, made from Autumn ripened grapes.” Important if you are looking for good Shiraz to watch out for areas where the grapes ripen in Autumn, was a tip from David.
The 3 Amigos, with a very rich mouthfeel and a long finish, was a brilliant blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro (Mourvedre).
For me, the real class in the glass came with the Tiger Country blend. Tempranillo is the main grape here and it shows. It has power and elegance, is supple and silky with a persistent finish. “Tread carefully,” they say, “this Tiger’s got some savoury bite!” Well worth the risk for 24 euro.
|David and yours truly|
The wines, priced from €19.00 to €26.00, are available via Tindal Wine Merchants. Rounded off with a delicious Harvest Supper, it was another terrific night in Ballymaloe and well done to David, to our host Colm McCan and his colleagues and to William Tindal.
The Ballymaloe Sherry event has been postponed until the New Year but do watch out for the An Italian Evening - wines of Tuscany & New Season’s Olive Oil – on November 8th.