Honky Chateau!

New(ish) project alert! The recent uptick of importers, distributors and sommeliers dipping their toes into the winemaking pool has only led to good things. Fewer rules! Greater fun! Less fuss! More variety!
Now, another new player has entered the chat. Though, to call Chris Ryan a “new player” is something of a LOL seeing as he’s spent years in the trade, both as a sommelier and senior wine buyer for Andrew McConnell’s Trader House group in Melbourne, and as a vineyard hand in the Yarra Valley, at Moorooduc Estate and the almighty Mount Mary. He was also named the Best Sommelier of Australia in 2021, so yeah, that should give you a good idea of the talent level here.
Like many others in his cohort, Chris started his very small side-hustle – Honky Chateau – in the midst of the pandemic and is now onto his third vintage. The goal of the project, in his eyes, is to celebrate everyday wine, offer value for money, and to dig deeper into the wealth of what the Yarra Valley has to offer. Mission accomplished, let’s say.
Naturally, there’s pinot noir, but not just any pinot noir…single vineyard pinot noir from a new sub-label! The 2023 Bobby Christoph Pinot Noir hails from Willowlake, has a bit of whole-bunchy character but really aims for lightness, sappiness and chewiness above all, lithe in texture and marked in taste by the rather timeless combo of sour cherry and raspberry, with alpine herb savour. Syrah, meanwhile, is the star of his 2023 Découpage, which spotlights the slurpier, more glou-glou side of the varietal, laced with floral perfume and peppery spice in amongst the bedrock of chompy red and black fruits. The 2022 Mugaccino nods to the classic cabernet shiraz blends of old, something not often seen down in Victoria. Imagine the plummy, leafy, Ribena complexion of the former meshed with the Black Forest cake and sweet spice traits in the latter, and there you have it. All up? The right wines for right now. 
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