Hochkirch is one of Australia’s greatest small estates. Tasting and drinking Hochkirch wines is always a study of vivid, luminous fruit, chiseled structures and luxurious texture. Too often cool climate wines can taste hollow, with hard boned structures and sour acidity. Hochkirch wines are detailed, elegant, mineral, powerful and ravishing.
The Biodynamic Vineyards
But it’s not just about the taste and feel of the wines. The vineyard management is as sensitive to the environment as can be hoped for. The winemaking techniques are traditional and low interventionist. There are no additions, with the exception of minimal sulphur, used only when bottling if at all. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The village of Tarrington was originally named Hochkirch by its early German settlers. Situated in the foothills of the Grampians, it resides within the greater orbit of the Henty wine region. I’ve never visited in Summer, but the winters are absolutely freezing, making it Australia’s coolest designated wine region.
Established in 1990 by John and Jennifer Nagorcka, the vineyard was initially run along conventional lines. However, they soon modified this in response to the region’s very cool, continental climate – similar to Burgundy. The vineyards are close planted at 6000 vines per hectare and the fruit is set on low wires to take advantage of the reflected and retained soil temperatures. The vines are planted on their own rootstocks, without irrigation and are farmed biodynamically.
The Hochkirch vineyard’s have a northerly aspect and lie at an altitude of 250m. Soils are red and brown basalt loam over granite and clay. The clay is set deeper in the soil, forcing the vines to send their roots deeper and enabling good water retention. Yields are strictly controlled with approximately 500 grams of fruit per vine.
Meanwhile, the Tarrington vineyard is part owned with John’s sister and the farming methods from Hochkirch are replicated here. The soils and aspect are essentially the same, but the character of the fruit is markedly different. Hence the retention of the name Tarrington.
The 2017 is an intense, rich style of Riesling from Hochkirch. It has energetic acidity and crisp, green apples on the nose. A great palate weight and mouthfeel adds to the white floral flavours and crunchy green pear skin. Certified Biodynamic. Vegan Suitable.
Hochkirch’s 2017 ‘entry-level’ Pinot Noir is anything but. Complex, cool climate Pinot Noir made to the highest standards. Pure bright, cherry/plum fruit with a silky and deep mouthfeel. Outstanding retention of acidity and freshness and a distinctive earthy, sappy complexity which is the terroir. Pure, long and complex – this will age well. The wine’s terrific stony lift on the finish gives it nice definition. Certified Biodynamic. Vegan Suitable.
The 2018 Tarrington Vineyards Chardonnay is Chablis-esque with a nose of green apple and stone fruits. A broad, creamy palate with hints of nutty, vanilla oak and washed stone. Sublime example of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay. A real treat! Certified Biodynamic. Vegan Suitable.