Margaret River “must remain hungry”

10th October, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt

Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region needs to promote itself more actively in key export markets to prevent it becoming overlooked, believes David Hohnen from the area’s McHenry Hohnen Vintners.

McHenry Hohnen Vintners was founded by David Hohnen (foreground) and his brother-in-law Murray McHenry

Hohnen, who founded Margaret River’s pioneering Cape Mentelle winery – now owned by LVMH – told the drinks business during an interview yesterday that the Western Australian region, famous for its white and red Bordeaux blends along with Chardonnay, was not publicising its wines as strongly as it should be.

“We are a preeminent Assie region but Margaret River must remain hungry, and we are looking for leadership from the region in the next generation,” he said.

Looking back, he recorded that Cape Mentelle had built Margaret River’s reputation in the key UK market because it was the first winery in the region to base someone in Britain.

The winery’s pioneering approach to the UK was then strengthened by other early operators in Margaret River who had an export focus, such as Vasse Felix, Cullen and Leeuwin Estate.

Today, he said, Margaret River “is much more diverse, with many more producers, but the first producers are still creating excitement.”

In particular, Hohnen highlighted the evolution in Chardonnay styles from the region, describing a new approach focused on harnessing natural acidity, lowering alcohols, and using less new oak.

This, combined with other techniques employed in the last 3-4 years, such as the use of natural yeasts, is producing “more minerally wines and a better expression of Chardonnay,” said Hohnen.

2011_MR_SSB

David Hohnen said there was “no appetite at the moment” for Margaret River’s Sauvignon/Semillon blends in the UK.

However, he said that there was “no appetite at the moment” for Margaret River’s other flagship white: Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon “Bordeaux blends”.

“We pour it for potential buyers and they always love it, but there is a reluctance to buy it because Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is all powerful,” he said.

As an example of Margaret River’s lack of representation in the UK for its white blend, he noted that The Wine Society has just a single listing for Australian Sauvignon – a Margaret River Semillon/Sauvigon under the retailer’s exclusive Blind Spot range.

Describing the retailer as one for “65,000 Brits who enjoy wine” and a business that “is extremely supportive of Australian wine”, he noted that when he searched The Wine Society catalogue for Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon/Semillon blends he found 14 wines from the Loire, nine from Bordeaux, nine from New Zealand, six from Chile and only one from Australia.

“I think the British consumer is missing out,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hohnen stressed the quality of Shiraz from Margaret River and said that his “most successful” wine in the UK market was made from this grape.

“The UK consumer is discovering Margaret River Shiraz, and we do a good one, Cape Mentelle has always done a good one, and Voyager do a good one,” he said.

Stylistically, he said that Margaret River Shiraz “has never gone down the track of American oak and the varietal characters have always been to the fore.”

Continuing, he said, “It sits comfortably between the white pepper of the ripe Grampians Shiraz and the bigger jammier characters of McLaren Vale and the Barossa.”

He also noted that more Shiraz was being planted in Margaret River, which was historically reasonably widespread in the region, but pulled out and replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon over the course of the last two decades.

“Shiraz has come back big time,” he concluded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

UK Brand Ambassador - That Boutique-y Gin Company

That Boutique-y Gin Company
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Senior National Account Manager – Grocery (Craft Spirits)

Maverick Drinks
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Senior National Account Manager – Wholesale RTM (Craft Spirits)

Maverick Drinks
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Digital Marketing Manager

Master of Malt
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Experienced On Trade Sales Person

Borough Wine Imports
London, GB

3 x Business Development Executive

The Lakes Distillery Company Limited
Newcastle head office and nationwide, UK

Editor

Master of Malt Ltd
Tunbridge Wells(Kent)

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Brand Manager

Hallgarten Druitt
Luton, UK

Experienced On-Trade Salespeople Required

Portal Wines and Spirits
London, UK

Purchasing and Sales (Wine Trader)

JF Tobias
London, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Cambridge / Peterborough / Bedfordshire, UK

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 17th April 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 14th April 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 12th May 2017

Click to view more

Global Chardonnay Masters 2016

Now in its fourth year, the competition will identify the best Chardonnay from all around the world in every price range.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Fortified Masters 2016

Now in its third year, The Fortified Masters will reward the best fortified wines on offer.

The Global Malbec Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the inaugural Global Malbec Masters 2016.

Click to view more