Hanging Rock recent releases roundup
By the same token, it would be hard not to talk about oak handling here, for wood seems to have an all-to-obvious influence on so many of the wines, and to the point of absolute distraction in some cases.
Still, I’ve got no doubt that many of the reds in particular will have no problem in seeing out their 20th birthday in style.
Before getting into the wines though, a little context – Hanging Rock was first setup as principally a sparkling proposition, largely under the belief that this very cool part of the mainland was more suited to bubbles rather than table wine. Instead, still wine options, founders John and Ann Ellis headed instead to Heathcote, planting the ‘Athol’s Paddock vineyard in 1992 principally for the production of Shiraz.
It wasn’t until more recently that the Ellis family (who still control the estate) began to experiment with producing Macedon sourced table wines, utilising both the existing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay plantings, as well as newer plots of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and more.
While these ‘newer’ additions to the Hanging Rock range have fleshed the options out considerably, the focus of the winery continues to be on the intriguing sparklings (such as this one) and the Heathcote Shiraz, produced from a renowned dry-grown vineyard on premium Heathcote dirt.
A new generation has taken the helm at Hanging Rock too, with John and Ann’s daughter Ruth now running the sales and marketing and son Rob now managing production. What will be interesting to see is whether this next Ellis crop can manage to maintain that aforementioned authenticity, whilst still updating and evolving the wine styles.
Jim Jim Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Macedon Ranges, Vic) 13.2%, $27
Picked in 3 batches from under and to rather ripe, this was 10% barrel fermented in new French oak to give texture.
There is both a passionfruit thiol lift (and hint of green asparagus) on the nose along with riper characters, a nod to the mixture of picking dates. The palate is riper and quite juicy, with just a little wood on the edges, finishing with quite nervy acidity and no shortage of intensity. A slightly uneven sort of a wine, this really does like ripe and underripe, the wine suffering as a result (and not helped by a little oak tannins too). Still, that texture is better than that seen in many equivalent Victorian Savvies and will probably only get better with another year in bottle. 16.5/20, 88/100
Hanging Rock Jim Jim Chardonnay 2009 (Macedon Ranges) 13.5% $40
Produced from earlier ripening clones, this fruit previously made its way into the sparklings and the 2009 marks the first time it was used for still wine. It spent a massive 24 months in second use French oak.
You can see in every nook and cranny too. It’s sexy oak mind you, all nougat and condensed milk richness, over a palate that is clean and persistent. No matter what you do however, the oak still dominates what is a fairly delicate beast, and ultimately derails the wine. 15.5/20, 86/100
Hanging Rock The Jim Jim Pinot Noir 2010 (Macedon Ranges) $45
After a few warm years Hanging Rock decided to plant some 777 table wine Pinot clones in a bid to more consistently craft table Pinot. This wine is the first crop from 777, blended with MV6 and D5V12 fruit too. The wine was fermented in open fermenters with pigeage twice a day, finished off in new and used French oak for 12 months.
What I do like here is the fragrance of the nose, with a twinkle of rose water. Yet there is also this ferrous, ironstone like rusticity to the palate which reminds of barely ripe Coteaux Champenoise, further reinforcing the challenges of making ripe Pinot Noir in a sparkling wine setting. Still, there is strawberry to match the firm tannins and firm acidity, making for a not unappealing wine in the washup. 16.5/20, 88/100+
Hanging Rock Heathcote Shiraz 2009 (Heathcote, Vic) $75
Sourced from the dry grown Athols Paddock vineyard which is cropped at just 1 tonne to the acre. It spends one month on skins and 18 months in new American oak.
This has that imperious purple blackness of the best Heathcote Shiraz. Sweet, chocolate milk oak over coffeed blackness and thickly grained tannins, the style ultimately reflecting the best of the dense, inky, purple fruited Heathcote Shiraz style with energy through the slightly minty tannic finish. Those tanninns are lovely really, and the whole character feels rather old world in its acidity and structure. If the oak wasnt so blunt and intrusive I’d be going gaga over this. 17.8/20, 92/100
Hanging Rock Heathcote Reserve Shiraz 2004 (Heathcote, Vic) 13% $105
From a cool dry year, this spent 24 months in new, steam bent oak.
Amazing how youthful this looks really – no hint of age in the colours. It smells dense and youthful too, with very rich black plum fruit and more of that vanillla coffee bean oak. The palate too has wonderful vivacity considering its age. Heavy handed, charry oak a downer but otherwise the fruit is delicious and acid quite taut. Lovely dry tannins too. Would be a wonderful wine sans that heavy oak. Regardless it’s really quite delicious, if obviously of a certain style. Whether it is actually a better wine than the 09 is contentious, for this looks more youthful, yet also even more dominated by oak. This wine by a nose methinks. 18/20, 93/100+