DogRock, replete with the capital ‘R’, is the venture of Allen and Andrea Hart, both with honours degrees from the University of Adelaide, his in oenology, hers in viticulture. Prior to establishing DogRock, both had worked extensively across the Australian wine industry, and travelled through Rioja, the Rhône Valley, Napa, Bordeaux and New Zealand.

In 1998 they purchased 58ha of partially wooded land behind the township of Crowlands in Victoria’s Pyrenees region. Surrounded by rocky ridges on three sides, the vines lie in a horseshoe-shaped valley. Initially, they planted 1.08ha of shiraz, 0.58ha of tempranillo and 0.6ha of grenache. Two more plantings of 1.4ha of shiraz followed, then three blocks of riesling (0.95ha), and 0.75ha of chardonnay and cabernet. The pincushion of today is completed with graciano, touriga, arinto, fiano and azal. In all there are 11 varieties on 16 separate blocks.

It’s here that the viticultural background of Andrew and the wine science education of Allen emerge. His last employment before he came to Crowlands was research scientist (and winemaker) with the then Fosters. During the establishment of the vineyard, dams were built at varying levels on the slopes for irrigation led by a solar pump and gravity. The winery was recessed into the northern slope, its natural insulation keeping it cool in summer. Solar power runs both the house and winery.

In the vineyards irrigation and sprays are used sparingly and not as routine. But organic status is not on the agenda. ‘We prefer to reserve the ability to combat disease [and spray] in a challenging season.’ All vineyard applications, including harvesting, and mulch spreading to improve soil structure and increase biodiversity.

Winery practises have a similar philosophy. There will never be a cork in the winery, and wines are filtered to prevent spoilage, but intervention is minimal once fermentation comments. All steps thereafter are directed to provide wines that are softer, with more textural palate weight, that will age and drink well for decades.

2021 DogRock Winery Degraves Road Reserve Single Vineyard Pyrenees Shiraz

Hand-picked, wild yeast fermented, basket-pressed and matured for 12 months in Troncais oak (60% new). It’s intensely flavoured, yet light on its feet, with juicy black fruits and a background tattoo of fine spun tannins.

96+ points, drink to 2042, 14% alc, Screwcap, $40

2022 DogRock Winery Pyrenees Graciano

The wine is in the elegant, light- to medium-bodied DogRock red wine style, but don’t be deceived. Its striking plum and cherry fruit will feed the palate for years, thanks to its balance and length.

95 points, drink to 2032, 14% alc, Screwcap, $30

2022 DogRock Winery El Blanco

A 38/36/19/4.5/2.5% blend of riesling, chardonnay, viognier, fiano and azal. The wine lets nothing slip until the finish and, in particular, aftertaste, which is tangy, super fresh and very long.

94 points, drink to 2029, 12.5% alc, Screwcap, $35

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