Tony D’Anna and his family migrated to Australia in 1956 full of hope and energy, their possessions in a suitcase. With a multi-generation history in food and wine in their native Italy, their first business in their new country was selling freshly baked bread to the Italian diaspora around Melbourne, then olive oil, olives, salami and all things Italian. By 1963 their first store was opened, and wine was added to the full offerings of a licensed grocery, which grew into Boccaccio Cellars in 1980, with a fully-fledged supermarket behind it.
In 1960 Tony had come across a remote property on Gembrook Road, Yarra Valley, with Hoddles Creek flowing through it. The creek was a guaranteed source of water to sustain the vegie patch Tony planted, driving to it from Melbourne on weekends to water and pick the crop. Son Franco earnt pocket money at Boccaccio Cellars, and by 1997 had become chief wine buyer. It was a memorable year, also marking Franco’s Bachelor of Commerce degree, and the decision to plant a vineyard on the Gembrook Road property. It was preordained that Franco would enrol in the Charles Sturt University viticulture course in 1998, finishing in 2003.
Hoddles Creek Estate debuted in my 2006 Wine Companion; the first tasting notes focused on elegance, finesse and length – qualities that remain the cornerstones of all its wines, which offer extraordinary value for money. Production has increased from 10,000 to 30,000 dozen and a three-tier structure has been created. In 2018 the family bought an adjacent property on Gembrook Road and is busy planting it with pinot noir; Franco, assistant winemaker Chris Bendle and three others swap jobs whenever needed at any hour of the day. It will mean the total plantings of pinot noir will rise to 18ha, most planted on rootstocks. Says Franco: “Phylloxera will come. We want to be ahead of the curve”.
2019 Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Hand-picked, wild-fermented, 21 days on skins, 10 months in French oak (25% new). Deep colour; the bouquet and palate flow with black cherry/berry fruits, violets and spices lurking in its depths. The palate has slinky power that’ll sustain the wine for years to come. 13.2% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2030, $24.99
2020 Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
25yo vines; hand-picked, 100% whole bunch-fermented, 10 months in French oak (25% new). The floral bouquet offers red cherry/berry fruit, spice and violets, the seamless palate adding nuances of forest and gossamer tannins to the expansive finish. 13.2% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2030, $24.99
2020 Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Chardonnay
Seven clones; barrel-fermented (25% new), part wild, part cultured yeast; 9 months in oak, the impact subtle in a wine with both finesse and intensity. Grapefruit and Granny Smith apple drive the long palate, crisp acidity to close. 13.2% alc, screwcap 95 points, drink to 2030, $22