Cape Mentelle's John Durham goes to Moss Wood

When Keith Mugford of the Margaret River ‘first growth’ Moss Wood advertised recently for an inexperienced person to train with him to become a winemaker he was somewhat surprised to find one of the applicants was John Durham, the  ‘Cape Mentelle legend’ who has been making wine at this rival winery since 1984.

But all has not been well at Cape Mentelle since founder (and founder of Cloudy Bay) David Hohnen left to do his own thing (see below). He sold to LVMH years ago but kept a firm hand on the tiller until recently. Nowadays this Western Australian subsidiary of the giant Moet Hennessy empire is run by Dr Tony Jordan, based nearly 2,000 miles away at Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley. There has been something of an exodus of staff and Durham’s defection is perhaps not a total surprise.

Mugford reports on this surprise applicant: Needless to say, it shifted the goalposts somewhat and led to some interesting discussions. In the end, John got the nod because his experience, team commitment, intuitive feel and outstanding palate made him impossible to overlook.” Durham starts work at Moss Wood, which has recently expanded and has long been the source of some of Australia's longest-living Cabernets, on 13 jun.

See how well John Durham’s 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon performed recently in Top trans-Tasman Cabernets assessed.

27 may: In the mail this morning, a great card designed by David Hohnen's winemaker daughter Freya giving details of McHenry Hohnen Vintners, the family's new project. McHenry is her mother's brother who is looking after the commercial side. She will be helping with winemaking because, as she explains, her father 'must have slept through the wine chemistry course when he was at Uni'. They are producing reds and whites made from Rhône varieties plus Chardonnay retailing at £8-14 a bottle in the UK with 2004 the first exported vintage from their four Margaret River family-owned vineyards. They believe that Rhône varieties are 'the next generation from the mediterranean climate of Margaret River'. Better pull up those Cabernets, Cullen and Moss Wood.