The wine that Jack built

AFTER 35 years in WA, Jack Bendat and his wife went south in search of a farm. In the green undulating hills around Mt Barker at a place where the Hay River flows, they found a winery and vineyard that once was a farm.

The year was 1995, the vineyard and winery was Goundrey, at the time, one of the largest operations in the Great Southern and a vision of local wine man Michael Goundrey.

To move forward and even maintain status, Goundrey Wines needed funds.

Jack had the dollars and at 70 years young, with a fertile imagination he could easily muster a vision to lift Goundrey Wines to another plateau.

He bought Goundrey and as of September had ploughed $25 million into it.

The results are nothing less than breathtaking when you visit Mt Barker.

Back in 1995, Goundrey sold some 17,000 cases of wine annually, today, as the second largest winemaker after Houghton, it sells 250,000 cases.

When in the Great Southern a visit to Goundrey is a must. The quality of the wines are an excellent catalyst but to see the facilities and tour them is another.

The cellar door sales area is reminiscent of a classy department store, it is spacious and elegant with a David Jones feel about it. Goundrey’s unwooded chardonnay has had a staggering rise in popularity and could well be heading toward being a national bestseller with sales currently at 100,000 cases annually.

The 2000 vintage unwooded chardonnay will absorb a great deal of the much-vaunted white wine lake in WA because this fresh young white is all Western Australian fruit.

Winemaker Keith Brown has put together a zesty, fresh 100 per cent chardonnay for the 2000 vintage. It’s lighter and more refined in structure than the previous vintage with fairly high acidity that makes for a refreshing white.

At 6.5 grams of sugar per litre, it has to be considered a dry white. You will taste tropical flavours, melons and limes, even lemons, but be assured this will change as the white develops. Typical cold climate chardonnay characters of apricot and peaches will fill the mouth and the green and pale yellow hue will become broader and golden.

This is a better wine than the previous vintage and I don’t see the mere 100,000 cases going far. A perfect seafood wine and good with anything Asian and spicy.

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