Walsh & Sons / Australia
10 of the Best New Wineries– Wine Companion 2019
The name Walsh & Sons has a Burgundian twist, the only difference is that Walsh & Sons would be Walsh et Fils. The analogy continues: the sons Roi and Hamish (Ryan Walsh and Freya Hohnen their parents) are in turn from McHenry Hohnen, of Margaret River blue blood wine aristocracy. Ryan and Freya have had a Burgundian family association making wine for McHenry Hohnen from 2004 to ’12, and over that time visiting/ working for wineries in France, Spain, Switzerland and the US. JAMES Halliday, The Wine Companion
Walsh and Sons, despite sounding like an accountancy firm, is an exciting Margaret River winery project from Ryan Walsh and Freya Hohnen. If that last name rings a few bells you would be on the right track. Freya is the daughter of the legendary David Hohnen, founder of Cape Mentelle and one of this country’s great wine luminaries. Walsh too comes from a family steeped in agriculture and wine growing in the region. Both Ryan and Freya grew up in the vineyards and have balanced that invaluable experience with time spent cutting their teeth working for wineries overseas before setting up shop back in familiar territory.
Ryan and Freya are part of a new breed of small-scale Margaret River winemakers, think Si Vintners, Dormilona and LAS Vino, who are embracing biodynamics and minimal intervention while keeping regionality and expression of site as their focus. They are breathing new life into a region where, although studded with some of this nation’s greatest producers, it can difficult to uncover new and exciting projects.
The full range of wines from Walsh and Sons strikes me as a touch eclectic straddling traditional offerings amidst some more playful releases and while some of their wines are definitely aimed at a more modern natural drinker, their 2019 Burnside Chardonnay is a sensational wine in anyone’s language.
The fruit came from the family’s Burnside vineyard which was planted back in 1981 by David Hohnen. It lies on steep north facing slope, rare in Margaret River, and is only a ‘couple of dropkicks’ to the ocean, as my Dad would say. This is a unique site and one which shines through in this wine. This is a Chardonnay that balances power and finesse beautifully, not always an easy task in Margaret River. There is concentration and drive in spades but that is framed against pithy grapefruit acidity, layers of creamy nuts, ripe orchard fruits and a saline spritz. It is unmistakeably Margaret River but offers a more dynamic and expressive interpretation than most, with a welcome touch of restraint.
Erin Larkin, Halliday’s newly crowned correspondent in the west, was enamoured with this wine as well as you can read in her review below and I whole heartedly concur. There is some insane value here and if this is a window into the future of Margaret River Chardonnay, then I am excited.