Over dinner with friends last week at the wonderful Vietnamese-French fusion restaurant La Mint in Darlinghust we enjoyed a bottle of Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Pinot Noir 2013. The wine was a gift from a friend who really knows and loves his pinot noir: “I want you to try something special,” he said.

The wine certainly presents itself as something special. It’s a big, heavy bottle with a very Burgundian looking label. We opened it just at the right time; the slightly sweet, richly layered berry fruit flavours and clean but silky tannins perfectly complemented the deliciously succulent, slightly spicy pork belly.

I certainly wasn’t surprised to read Gary Walsh’s absolutely glowing review in The Wine Front:

Some people might think $45 is a lot of money for a wine, but this, put simply, is a bargain. To get quality like this out of Burgundy you’d be up for $150+. Anyway, I just ordered a dozen.

Dark cherry, ripe raspberry, sweet damp earth scattered with flowers, pencils and cinnamon and layers of spice – it’s rich, fragrant and deep, and the minute you smell it, you know you’re in for something pretty special. Medium bodied, layers of fruit, mineral and spice, and the thing that marks it out is the pixel fine bed of graphite tannin that forms the foundation of the wine. Superb texture. Then the finish is all spice and sweet ripe tannin washing the palate clean. Yeah, you know, 96 or 97 points. Seems high, I know, but it’s as good as any Australian Pinot I’ve tasted. It’s up there with anything, from anywhere. (The Wine Front, 14 January 2015)

The Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Pinot Noir is the winery’s premium single vineyard release. It comes from the original Vineyard block next to the winery on the family-owned Hoddles Creek property in Victoria’s Upper Yarra.  Set alongside Hoddles Creek, the property has belonged to the D’Anna family since 1960. In 1997 vines were planted on the steeply sloping blocks where the marginal soils and cooler climate naturally limit yields.

The wine is made by viticulturist and winemaker Frank D’Anna in a very non-interventionist style. The grapes are transferred using gravity and are only de-stemmed, not crushed. Twenty percent whole bunches are included in the fermentation to make the tannins a little more finer and build structure for long-term ageing. The wine spends 18 months in a balance of new and old oak and is bottled without filtration or fining.

A very impressive drop!

Merrill Witt New YorkBy Merrill Witt, Editor