Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay, Yarra Valley
Franco d’Anna is a largely self-taught winemaker who has a hands-on/hands-off approach to his wines. He’s hands-on in the vineyard, his upper Yarra, steeply sloped Gembrook vineyards prohibit mechanical harvesting and the climate demands extensive canopy management. When it comes to machinery and chemicals, he’s hands-off. After making that decision, the soil health has never been better and he has joined the Langton’s Classification for his 1er Cru Pinot Noir.
Franco also takes a hands-off approach in the winery. No enzymes are added and the gently pressed juice is allowed to settle and ferment naturally. The Estate Chardonnay is left on lees for the bones of a year before blending and cold stabilisation.
Yarra ValleyThe Yarra Valley was first planted by the Ryrie brothers who explored a way through the Snowy Mountains to the Yarra Valley, planting grapes in 1838 just three years after the foundation of Melbourne. A wine industry (developed by Swiss Settlers particularly Hubert de Castella and Baron Guillaume de Pury in the 1850s) thrived during the gold rush era and heyday of the 19th century. However, the end of the gold rush brought the wine industry into decline and it was not until the 1970’s that the modern wine industry started up again. The region is probably Australia’s best-known cool-climate area, yet it is really a patchwork of meso-climates. This varied topography creates an incredible set of variables. Vineyards are planted on elevations of 50 to 400m on varying aspects and management programmes. The more exposed sites are subject to severe spring frosts and winds. Overall, the area experiences a relatively high rainfall pattern and is known for its temperature extremes during ripening. Site selection is crucial, with the best vineyards often located where the original vines were once planted, generally on sandy clay loams and gravels. The Yarra Valley is well known for high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Blends with Shiraz increasingly garnering attention. Sparkling wine production is also extremely important, with many of Australia’s finest examples produced in the region.