ROCK ROCK ROCK ROCK- Melbourne Age & Sydney Morning Herald- Huon Hooke
I can sympathise with the Ellis family of Hanging Rock Winery. Put yourself in their shoes. You’ve sat yourself down in an Italian trattoria and ordered your pasta. Then you scan the wine list. There’s endless oaky chardonnays .. and black, inky, two year old Aussie reds. But nothing you’d want to drink now, let alone at lunchtime, with pasta. The Ellis mob were doing just that - having a casual summer lunch in Carlton’s Lygon Street, when they couldn’t find an appropriate, lighter-bodied, but flavoursome wine to have with their pasta. Bingo! They decided to produce their own.
That was two years ago, and the range began with a shiraz, grenache, pinot noir blend and an un-wooded chardonnay. They’ve since added a riesling and a merlot. The reds are especially good pasta wines - the shiraz, grenache, pinot noir tastes strongly of pinot, in a light-bodied soft‘n’fruity style that has more in common with a weightier rosé than a serious Rhône style dry red. It would be terrific with pasta in a mushroom or meat-based sauce.
John and Annie Ellis are best known for their outstanding sparkling wine, called simply ‘Macedon’, and their gutsy Heathcote Shiraz. But every sizeable player in the wine biz needs a bread-and-butter wine, or what the big end of town calls an entry-level product. That ’s where the Rock range fits in. Dressed simply with a small, square colour-coded label, these are unpretentious wines for everyday drinking at an everyday price:$12 -$13. The chardonnay is light, cashewy and easy-going. The riesling is perfumy with pear and baked apple flavours on a delicate framework. The merlot has remarkable depth and pleasing drinkability. The shiraz blend is light, soft and strawberryish, with a lick of mint.
All come sealed with a plastic stopper instead of cork. That means they ’ll never be cork tainted - but you probably shouldn’t keep them longer than you have to. (Some say synthetic closures can be a bit questionable in the long run). But that ’s what Rock is all about:easy drinking wines at the right price; not for keeping, but ready to drink now.