Today I want to share some thoughts and images that connect to a wine you need to buy by midnight tomorrow if you want to snag if for a steal of a £7 per bottle at its discounted price (there’s a further 25% off if you’re going in for 6 mixed or unmixed cases of 6 but that’s quite a commitment, I know.)
The wine is called A L’Envers Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Bordeaux. It’s made by a man called David Hohnen whom I met three years ago in Margaret River, on the west coast of Australia. The picture above was taken when he stopped his car on the drive between our hotel and his home, to show us the beautiful view but also to point out the damage done by the great bush fires of November 2011. “When the fire came I was on that hill over there, waiting for it. And when the flames hit the top of the hill they were 100m high and the wind was 80kmh an hour.”
David is a quiet and understated kind of a guy with a slightly bleak sense of humour and he does things his own way. We drove that night to the most beautiful and magical 300 acres of remoteness I have ever seen, where at the time he was living with his very sparkly-eyed wife Sandy. You entered through a huge gate – “I’d be over-run with kangaroos if I didn’t have that,” – and then you’re in a world of creeks and eucalyptus, Wiltshire sheep, newly planted woodlands and a few vines too. “Wonder if the girls are still up?” said David as we pulled in. Which girls? “The pigs,” he said, fondly, pulling over by some Tamworths.
David has quite a track record. He’s the man who conjured-up Cloudy Bay, the winery in New Zealand that put sauvignon blanc from the antipodes on the world map. He also set up Cape Mentelle in Australia’s Margaret River where, these days, he makes wine under the McHenry-Hohnen label.
I think of David quite often because at the end of that evening he gave me a present. A slightly odd present, to be honest: a hand-forged railroad spike (I feel my railway nutter uncle is about to email in to tell me the correct name for it – please do Uncle D!) recovered from old tracks nearby, which has been sitting on my kitchen windowsill ever since.
This bottle of David Hohnen white is something different. It is not from Australia or from New Zealand, it is from Bordeaux. I really love white wines from Bordeaux but they mostly get lost amongst all the red. But can be really special, and evocative too. This one, made in collaboration with British MW Clem Yates, is beautifully done. The name reflects the fact that for David it’s made on the ‘other side’ of the world. It’s billed as a wine that unites the best elements of New Zealand and bordelais sauvignon blancs. Actually, I don’t think it is at all reminiscent of a New Zealand savvy – it doesn’t have the gooseberry pungency. I think it tastes more subtle, like a cross between white wine from Adelaide Hills in Australia and Bordeaux. This is a wine that has great tranquility and stylish calm. It tastes first of lemon and pink grapefruits and then finishes with a grassy, herbal jab.
Superb stuff. As it is sold only by Tesco Wine by the Case it can only be ordered online and only in six bottle units, which cost £42 (i.e. £7 per bottle) or £72 (£12 per bottle) if you don’t get your skates on. I have already sent one half case to my parents and one half case to my brother and his girlfriend.
I’m not sure if David still owns that same magical piece of land – it was on the market when I visited him. “It sent the two previous owners broke,” he said gloomily. But here’s a picture of him standing by the coast, and one of the view from the terrace that jutted off his kitchen, and the basket of freshly picked vegetables we ate that night, and one of me in my own kitchen, wondering what to do with that railroad nail, and finally one of the wine.