Life & Style Weekend - - WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ

It could be a case of un­con­scious bias, but I’ve never been keen on writ­ing about the Dan Murphy’s or BWS sta­ble of highly pro­moted, and of­ten over­hyped, reds and whites.

Leav­ing aside the big brands like Tyrells, Pen­folds, Mcguigan, Tay­lors and De Bor­toli, many of the wines found in a Dan’s or BWS out­let are mass pro­duced to a price point, rather than a level of quality.

And if you sus­pect that many of their cheap and cheery brands are owned by Wool­worths or Coles and fo­cused on mar­gins, I reckon you’re prob­a­bly right. But one of the samples that re­cently ar­rived from a corporate PR com­pany took me a lit­tle by sur­prise.

Not only did its quality sur­pass my (ad­mit­tedly low) ex­pec­ta­tions, but I dis­cov­ered a back­story which prob­a­bly ex­plains the pleas­ant sur­prise, and goes to show that when it’s in the blood, wine­mak­ing comes eas­ily.

The 2017 Once & Well chardon­nay is a sin­gle va­ri­etal wine from the Mar­garet River

re­gion in Western Aus­tralia. It’s made by Freya Hounen, the daugh­ter of ac­claimed Aus­tralian wine­maker David Hounen whose claims to fame in­clude be­ing a founder of Cape Men­telle in the Mar­garet River re­gion and the now-fa­mous Cloudy Bay in the Marl­bor­ough re­gion at the top of New Zealand’s South Is­land.

Those brands are among the most recog­nised of their re­spec­tive dis­tricts and are re­spected glob­ally. So with that kind of pedi­gree, it’s not sur­pris­ing that Freya knows how to make a de­cent chardy.

These days, Freya makes wines along­side her part­ner, Ryan Walsh, un­der the Walsh & Sons la­bel, but it seems that the Once & Well chardon­nay is an ex­cep­tion.

So named af­ter a favourite ex­pres­sion of Freya’s fa­mous fa­ther, the Once & Well has cer­tainly done that – it’s been done, and very well at that. Master­fully crafted in the style of a light-to-medium-bod­ied Mar­garet River chardon­nay, the wine has com­plex­ity, live­li­ness of fruit and nice acid­ity for bal­ance.

I won’t pre­tend that it’s the equal of a pow­er­ful Leeuwin Es­tate or mouth-fill­ing Moss Wood, but at the $20 price point you’d hardly ex­pect it to be.

On the nose there are hints of le­mon, lime and grapefruit, but once on the lips a hazel­nut char­ac­ter emerges and dances with ly­chees and nec­tarines on the mid-palate be­fore some sea­soned oak melds through the con­clu­sion.

The bal­ance is pretty good too with enough gen­tle acids to har­ness the fruit and re­strain some­what the pineap­ple pieces that seem­ingly im­pose them­selves on the fin­ish.

While it goes down well on its own, it’s an ob­vi­ous part­ner for apri­cot chicken or Chi­nese le­mon chicken dishes. Given its fresh­ness, the style isn’t re­ally one which cries out for time in the cel­lar, but for value it’s cer­tainly well above av­er­age.

Well done Freya Hounen – I reckon you’ve made your dad proud!

To read more Travis Schultz wine reviews, go to traviss­

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