New ventures in the Yarra Valley make their mark -James Halliday
Hoddles Creek Estate was established in 1997 when the D'Anna family decided to establish a vineyard on the property that has been in the family since 1960. The vineyard sits astride Gembrook road and adjacent Hoddles Creek. It's steeply sloping blocks prohibit mechanical harvesting, with both vineyards being hand pruned and harvested. Hoddles Creek Estate is planted with 10ha of pinot noir (five clones), 6 ha of chardonnay, 1ha each of sauvignon blanc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and 1.5ha of pinot gris.
Hoddles Creek Estate is located in the Upper Yarra, which is higher, cooler and more marginal than the lower Yarra. The vineyard is cropped at less than 2.5 tonnes per acre. Being in a marginal climate, requires extensive canopy management. The vineyard is trellised to Scott-Henry, to promote fruit exposure and lessen disease risk. All Hoddles Creek Estate wines, which are single vineyard, estate grown, are made in the 300 tonne winery, constructed in time for the vintage. The split-level winery has a barrel store located three meters underground.
All the winemaking practises at the Estate tend to be minimal. The wines are transferred using gravity, and there is generally no added addition of any acids. Consequently, the wines are balanced and fresh. All grapes are destemmed only, not crushed. This allows full berries to be transferred to either tank or press. No enzymes are used in any wines, the grape juice is allowed to settle naturally over four days at very low temperatures.
All wines see a percentage of oak. Some wines will not see any new oak, namely the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc which undergo a period of maturation in older oak. This provides mouthfeel, texture and generally builds the wines. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir normally see about 30% new oak. Fruit from Hoddles Creek is always fresh and bright and can withstand a larger portion of new oak.
Franco D'Anna is the viticulturalist and winemaker at Hoddles Creek Estate. His passion for wine began at just age 13. It was at this age when he started work in the family liquor store. By 21 he was the chief wine buyer while undertaking (and completing) a bachelor of commerce at Melbourne University. He then turned his attention to Charles Sturt University's viticulture course, while helping to maintain the newly planted vineyard. He attributes his traineeship, at Coldstream Hills, for the rigorous hygiene practices he learnt to be fundamental in the winery. For Hoddles Creek Estates’ first vintages, Franco worked with Peter Dredge of Red Edge, and then in consultation with Mario Marson, ex-winemaker for Mount Mary and Jasper Hill.