571 Commonage Rd, Dunsborough, 6281
Cellar Door: Daily (10-5)
Ph: (08) 9755 3300
Happs was established in 1978 by former teacher turned potter and winemaker, Erl Happ.
Happ dabbled with wine-making in the early 1970s with a few vines at his Bussleton home. In 1978 he found his wine-making home atop the Naturaliste Range near Dunsborough (with panoramic views of the Geographe Bay). It took four years to set up the winery/pottery complex.
Despite the scenic setting, the wine-making conditions have been much more of a challenge: the ancient soils were too fertile and had to be modified, while the vines had to be completely enclosed to keep off the hordes of wild bird life.
The standards of the wines have been inconsistent but can be excellent. Certainly there has been no shortage of experimentation.
The new Three Hills vineyard at Karridale now has over 28 different varieties established. The best wines are the Pomerol-style Merlot, a luscious Cabernet Franc, the light pastel shaded red Fuschia and the ports.
The Three Hills range is reserved for the best wines from this single estate. The first white wines of the range, a varietal Viognier and the Semillon / Sauvignon blend ‘Eva Maria' were released in early 2006.
The preservative free, PF Red, has significant national distribution.
There are three types of Tasting notes:
(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)
(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer
(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)
Happs Three Hills Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Purchased: Not ($A30)
(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2017, precise, textural and minerally lime, honeydew melon and lemon zest with light snow pea notes, long with racy grapefruit acidity, good intensity and line (****1/2)
Happs Three Hills Chardonnay 2014
Purchased: Not ($45)
(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2017, perfumed and brightly lit white peach,honeydew melon and lemon butter with white flower notes, some mid-palate creamy lees texture, the cashew-vanilla oak is in support role, good length with tangy lemon rind acidity (****1/2)
Happs Three Hills Malbec 2009
Purchased: Not ($38)
(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2017, perfumed and plump blackberry jube and raspberry notes with violet, bitter chocolate and mint notes, medium-full bodied and earthy, chewy savoury tannins softened by the bottle age, good length (****)
Happs Three Hills Malbec 2008
Purchased: Not ($36)
(GXY) Tasting: July 2011, attractive blackberry jube, black cherry and raspberry with violet and mint notes, plump and medium-full bodied with earthy complexity and is texturally infused with fine but slightly rustic savoury tannins, one of the better Australian stand alone Malbecs (****)
Happs Three Hills Petit Verdot 2006
Purchased: Not ($36)
(GXY) Tasting: July 2011, plump cassis and sour cherry with eucalypt and mint notes, medium-full bodied with underlying earthiness, silky and juicy with loose knit powdery tannins and restrained spicy cedar oak but not quite enough structure on the finish (***1/2)
Happs Three Hills Cabernet Franc 2007
Purchased: Not ($36)
(GXY) Tasting: July 2011, perfumed and leafy mulberry and blueberry with light menthol nuances, medium bodied with a good line, firm and gravelly tannins, discrete cedary oak (***1/2)
Happs Viognier 2009
Purchased: Not ($20)
(GXY) Tasting: July 2011, fuller bodied, barrel fermented orange blossom, dried pear and apricot with almond and quince notes, crisp mandarin rind finish with fine phenolics, a little broad for a higher score (***1/2)
Happs Three Hills Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2005
Purchased: Not ($22)
(GXY) Tasting: July 2011, slightly muted blend of 53% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 14% Mouvedre, medium bodied red cherry and plum with pepper and eucalypt notes, earthy rather than particularly spicy, roast coffee-cedar with grainy tannins (***)
Happs Fushsia 2010
Purchased: Not ($16)
(GXY) Tasting: July 2011, spritzy semi-sweet pink wine with 25 g/l residual sugar from the cocktail of red varieties in the Happs vineyard, lychee, rose petal and musk with a crisp strawberry finish, attractive light afternoon quaffing (***)
Happs Pinot Noir 2002
Purchased: Acland Cellars, St. Kilda, Vic
(GXY) Tasting: April 2007, bright and vibrant expression of raspberry and stewed plum with some underlying rhubarb earthiness, subtle savoury and clove notes, rounded and silky tannins, well balanced chocolate-cedar oak, quite classy for region (***1/2)
Happs Three Hills Cabernet Franc 1999
Purchased: Vintage Cellars, Hay Street, Perth, WA
(GXY) Tasting: July 2003, shows sweet blackcurrant and violet bouquet, silky tannins, flows across the palate as sweet blackcurrant, before morphing into savoury dark chocolate and raspberry, well made wine that shows what we missed through Cab Sav's overwhelming predominance over its historic predecessor, it should peak around 2006 (***1/2)