Murray McHenry presented a vertical of Hazel's Vineyard wines with our UK Distributor, Louis Latour, and special guests. Below is an article from Louis Latour.
On Thursday 5th March, Murray McHenry presented an outstanding line up of wines, all from one of their vineyards, named after Murray’s mother Hazel.
McHenry Hohnen bought Hazel’s Vineyard in 1996 and have always farmed this organically. The change to biodynamics came over a decade ago and last year McHenry Hohnen decided to work towards certification. In June 2020 both the vineyard and the winery will become certified as biodynamic.
Hazel’s is the most southerly of their vineyards and is blessed with cooling influences from the ocean and the northerly aspect. The vines are planted on 40 hectares of north facing slopes on ironstone gravels on a tributary of the Upper Chapman Brook where they receive plenty of sunshine. Hazel’s Vineyard used to be called Rocky Road but this was changed to Hazel’s for a more personal connection. Rocky Road is now used for McHenry Hohnen’s second label.
Biodynamics – what does it mean?
Biodynamic farming was established by Rudolph Steiner, who created a farming philosophy that centred around the lunar calendar and a range of organic additives and composts used to feed the soil and enhance a plant’s natural rhythms.
Through sustainable vineyard practices, natural preparations and compost, McHenry Hohnen nurture the biodiversity of the soil and vineyards to create exceptionally pure and expressive wines. Through biodynamic farming, the vineyard Manager Mike Sleegers can observe and guide the vineyard and use the natural rhythms of the vines and the environment to allow them to flourish naturally.
McHenry Hohnen practise minimal intervention winemaking. This is a traditional winemaking philosophy, the less intervention the more authentic and expressive the wines are. All the wines are in screwcap.
Hazel’s Vineyard Chardonnay
This was a vertical tasting of 9 vintages from 2007 to 2015.
Select hand-harvested fruit from Hazel’s Vineyard producing a vibrant southern Margaret River Chardonnay that makes a statement of fruit purity, power and elegance.
Winemaking - hand harvested, whole bunch pressed, full solids and wild fermentation in barrique (approx. 20-25% new). Post ferment, barrels are left cool but unsulphured for 4-months to encourage autolytic activity. Batonnage every two weeks based on flavour and partial malolactic fermentation. Wines are racked with full lees to tank around December and spend two months on lees in tank before being bottled.
As you can see below the oak influence increase as the vines age and their capacity to handle oak increase as the flavour profile increases. This reflects both a stylistic decision and a seasonal decision based on the maturity of the grapes.
The wines all showed astonishing acidity, holding the flavour profile in place and ensuring the wines were still balanced.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 spent 7 months in oak and ended with an abv of 14%.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 spent 7 months in oak and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 spent 7 months in oak (15% was new oak) and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 spent 7 months in oak (10% was new oak) and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 spent 7 months in oak (10% was new oak) and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 spent 9 months in oak (20% was new oak) and ended with an abv of 13%.
Rocky Road Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 spent 10 months in oak (20% was new oak with the remainder 2 or 3 years old) and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Hazel’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 spent 10 months in oak (20% was new oak with the remainder 2 or 3 years old) and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Hazel’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 spent 10 months in oak (25% was new oak with the remainder 2 or 3 years old) and ended with an abv of 13.5%.
Current vintage in UK: 2014 & 2015
Hazel’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
This was a vertical tasting of 5 vintages from 2011 to 2015.
A purist’s Cabernet; unfined and unfiltered, this is an elegant expression of Hazel’s Vineyard with harmony, balance and integrity.
Winemaking - partial wild fermentation in an open stone fermenter. A portion is left on skins for several weeks and the remaining portion is kept on skins for a shorter period before being sent to mature in fine French Oak barriques (20% new) for 14 months. No added acid, tannin or nutrient.
All wines are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 2011 and 2012 were labelled as Rocky Road Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, with Hazel’s Vineyard showing on the label from 2013 onwards. All the vintages tasted were 14.5%.
Current vintage in UK: 2012 & 2014
This was a vertical tasting of 5 vintages from 2011 to 2015.
Rolling Stone represents the pinnacle of McHenry Hohnen’s red wine production. Made in very limited quantities, this wine truly expresses the essence of the remarkable southern Margaret River site.
Winemaking - select parcels of fruit are fermented in open stone fermenters with the use of indigenous yeasts. Some of the wines are left on skins post fermentation for several weeks to provide savouriness and structure to the blend. Others are pressed earlier for freshness and aromatic lift. Each variety is kept separate and aged in the finest selection of French oak barrels for 18 months. The wine is then blended and kept for a further couple of months prior to bottling (approx 30-40% new). The wine remains unfined and unfiltered. All the vintages tasted were 14.5%.
Rolling Stone 2011 is made from 50% Cabernet, 25% Malbec and 25% Petit Verdot. The wine spent 18 months in oak (30% new).
Rolling Stone 2012 is made from 28.5% Cabernet, 28.5% Malbec, 28.5% Merlot and 14.5% Petit Verdot. The wine spent 18 months in oak (30% new).
Rolling Stone 2013 is made from 38% Cabernet, 25% Malbec, 25% Merlot and 12% Petit Verdot. The wine spent 18 months in oak (30% new).
Rolling Stone 2014 is made from 48% Cabernet, 20% Malbec, 20% Merlot and 12% Petit Verdot. The wine spent 18 months in oak (30% new).
Rolling Stone 2015 is made from 36% Cabernet, 27% Malbec, 27% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. The wine spent 18 months in oak (40% new).
Current vintage in UK: 2013 & 2014