A Beguiling Oddity from Hanging Rock (Oz Wine Review) April 2013
Andrew Graham Oz Wine Review
Hanging Rock Macedon Cuvée XIV (Macedon, Vic)
$50, Cork, 12.5%
There simply aren't enough unusual sparklings in Australia.
We have a few mildly odd sparkling reds (Primo Estate's Joseph, for one, may seem mainstream, but the inclusion of a spectrum of old Australian fortifieds marks it as special) but otherwise it's just Champagne emulation after Champagne emulation.
This Hanging Rock sparkling too is, technically speaking, another Champagne inspired fizz. It's a blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%) grown in the Macedon Ranges, with the wine spending some 8 years, 11 months and 27 days on lees until disgorgement.
Nothing unusual there.
A little digging reveals that, on average, Hanging Rock set aside half of each sparkling vintage for reserve wine, a volume that must be eye-wincingly expensive to maintain...
Suitably, this XIV release is a blend of: 2004 (39%) 2001 (18%) and 2000 (18%) vintages, with the remaining 25% 'a blend of 1999 back to 1987 inclusive', with all components aged on lees in old French barriques for at least two years before blending and tirage.
When you thus take all that old, oak-aged reserve wine and then give it a lengthy lees maturation of its own, you're going to get one seriously complex, seriously mature wine. An old wine, yet a current release too, with all sorts of weird and wonderful, old wine aromas and flavours. It's odd, but also great because of it.
This release looks even more mature too, that reserve wine looking ever more complex, if perhaps just a little decayed.
You can see that age in the colour alone - it's full gold, looking like something from the mid 90s. A very light bead too, a further nod to the high proportion of aged wine. It smells mature too, the long lees ageing giving loads of buttered bread richness, the reserve wine too giving, honeyed, sweetly caramelled and gentle, even slightly decrepit.
In contrast, the palate is vigorously rich, super honeyed and quite heavy. Yet it's also alive and long, with a vivacity to the finish that keeps you hooked in, finishing dry and clean.
There is so much 'going on' here that you can't help but admire it. Layers of super rich, caramel chew flavours and a sherry-like oxidative edge giving everything a complexity you can't deny, then topped off with enough acidity and life to make it palatable.
Ultimately this is more like a fortified, or a wild grower Champagne, than a typical Australian sparkling and I think the world is all the better for it.
Drink: Now. Don't delay
Score: 18/20 93/100
Would I buy it? A glass, with something very rich to eat, would make me happy. Perhaps no more than a glass though.