"A better understanding of our vineyards has led us to believe that certain blocks excel year after year. These blocks have always been treated separately to enable us to fine tune viticulture and winemaking in the thought of releasing some single block wines in the future. Well that time has come. Our Top Paddock vineyard was originally planted to 100 per cent Pinot Noir. In 2003, I decided to graft one block over to the Bernard clones of Chardonnay (95, 96, 277). I selected the best clones and the most balanced vines for cuttings. The block I selected was Easterly facing on the crest of the hill. I was always fascinated how Chardonnay on this block would go. The vineyard is 50 metres higher in altitude than the existing Chardonnay block.
Chardonnay from the Top Paddock has always had a different growth structure than our normal Chardonnay blocks. Positioned on top of the hill has meant the vines have had to work harder as the soils are poorer. Crop levels are never an issue with this block, with natural crop levels at one tone per acre. Minimal shoot thinning and positioning occurs in Spring. After this, we let the vines sort itself out.
In the winery, we treat this wine as we would normally treat all our Chardonnay.. The Chardonnay is picked in the early morning, and refrigerated down to 2⁰C for 12 hours. Then it is gentle destemmed, not crushed and pressed into tank. The juice is left to settle clear for 7 days with no enzyme or acid addition. The wine is then fermented till dryness using cultered and natural yeasts. The wine remains in cask for 12 months with occasional battonage. The wine is not filtered, not fined, or stabilized before bottling." - Franco D'Anna, Head Winemaker at Hoddles Creek Estate
There’s a little struck match and perhaps more spicy cedar oak this vintage, though it’s by no means excessive. Grapefruit and ripe lemon, but also nudging into some tropical fruit flavour too. There’s a fine powdery texture, intensity of acidity, some aniseed perfume, along with wheatgerm and ginger trailing on a juicy and tight finish. It’s a flavoursome iteration of this wonderful wine, and likely ready to drink earlier than some; no bad thing.
The bouquet is very complex ex well controlled barrel fermentation. The palate has focus and balance, the grapes picked at precisely the right moment, the fruit flavours of white peach, grapefruit and Granny Smith apple in perfect balance and harmony, the length that of top Yarra Valley chardonnay. Yarra Valley chardonnay responds like a violin in the hands of an 18th century musician.