School teachers Ros and Erl Happ first planted grapes in the Margaret River district as far back as the 1970s, putting them among the ranks of the first viticultural pioneers. To this day they still head the estate, which has grown to accommodate 30 different grape varieties. The fruit used comes from two vineyards, one in the northern warmer Dunsborough area and the other at the cooler Three Hills vineyard located at the southern extreme of the Margaret River district at Karridale just north of Augusta. All the fruit is dry grown, that is without supplemental irrigation, and that no herbicides whatsoever are used.
The Happs attribute the health of the vines to the unique trellis system called “Up and Over Lyre”, which allows for improved sun exposure and airflow so that fruit flavours are maximised and disease and pests are minimised. As a result, the amount of sulphite used in vinification can be negligible.
The final link in the chain winemaker Mark Warren, who is an experienced and talented craftsman able to coax and nurture the very best in the hand-picked grapes at his disposal. Like a good cook, he is able to show the fruit at its best without a heavy hand.
2016 Three Hills Eva Marie (13.1% alcohol, cellar door $30)
Named after an early pioneer, this is a blend of Semillon (56%), Sauvignon Blanc (38%) and Muscadelle (6%). Four days skin contact and wild yeast fermentation as well as some barrel fermentation and lees stirring has resulted in a sophisticated and stylish SSB. Whiffs of honey, lemon and white flowers without overt fruitiness. Palate structure is clean with a pleasing and complex minerality. If you like the white Bordeaux Graves style of wine then this will surely please.
2019 Happs Fields of Gold Chardonnay (13.6% alcohol, cellar door $30)
Coming entirely from the Karridale site, there is white peach and grapefruit aromas and a whiff of struck match. Oak not noticeable. Clean, lively with generous fruit tightly reined in by crisp acidity. A more restrained style of Margaret River chardonnay reflecting its cooler site.
2016 Happs Two by Two Cabernet Petit Verdot (14.3% alcohol, cellar door $30)
An unusual 50:50 blend of the two varietals. Dark berries, chocolate and pleasant “woodsy” aromas. Rich and long with firm earthy grip. Built to last.
2016 Charles Andreas (14.3% alcohol, cellar door $45)
Another nod to an early family pioneer. A classic Bordeaux blend from the best of the estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Classic Cabernet cassis aromas along with spice, green leaf and violets. A supple mouthfeel with generous fruitiness balanced by soft tannins. A pleasure to drink now, yet will easily keep.
For more information about Happs: https://happs.com.au/