Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hoddles Creek Estate & the 2010 Vintage

Hoddles Creek Estate is a winery that has received a lot of fantastic press over the past couple of years, and personally I think it is all entirely justified. My first experience with Hoddles Creek was when I bought a mixed case of their 08 Pinot Noir and 08 Chardonnay last year. Upon drinking a bottle of each, I quickly popped the rest in the cellar. Their quality was evident, but they definitely need to be aged for a few years before they start to show their best.

While in the Yarra Valley, I met with winemaker Franco D’Anna for a look at the winery and their 2010 vintage.

Hoddles Creek vineyards range over a few consecutive hills in the Southern Yarra, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir the main grape varieties, along with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Blanc. Most of the older vines go into Hoddles Creek Estate wines, while some of the most recently planted grapes go into the second label, Wickhams Road. Franco reckons that some of the grapes going into the Yarra Wickhams wines are more or less too good for a second label. Upon trying the Yarra Wickhams samples I’d have to agree with him. Other Wickhams wines come from non-estate grapes, including Gippsland, Macedon, and the Mornington Peninsula.

I was given a comprehensive tasting through all the 2010 barrel samples for both ranges of wines. Across the board they are looking excellent. They are characterised by even ripeness, excellent structure, and most noticeably, great natural acidity. The 2010 Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir and Chardonnay should both end up being superb wines, and at $20 a bottle will be absolute no-brainers as purchases. The Chardonnay samples all had a beautiful texture and acidity, while the couple of Pinot samples that will go into Hoddles should produce a wine of complexity and structure.

If the Hoddles Creek wines are no-brainers, then the Wickhams wines are nothing short of ridiculous. At $15 a bottle, i think they will end up being the kind of wines you would happily pay double the price for. I was particularly impressed with the 2010 Gippsland Pinot Noir, which was was beautifully aromatic. They are also producing a new Wickhams Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula, which was immediately identifiable as a Mornington Pinot, and once again should put many more expensive Mornington Pinots to shame.

The first of some of the 2010 wines will come out later this year. Franco happily admits that the wines are released too early, however, this is the only way he can keep the prices down at these low levels. He has no plans of significantly upping his prices, so as long we the consumer are happy to hold onto these wines for a couple of years upon purchase, we’re all onto a winner.



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