Home Hill Wines
Visiting the Home Hill Winery in Ranelagh, just outside Huonville in Tasmania’s South, is like visiting the new wave of Tasmanian wine. There is a sleek cellar door built not so long ago, which incorporates a restaurant beside the immaculately manicured vineyard. The vineyard itself abuts the front of the cellar door, and gently slopes down toward a neighbouring herd of alpacas. So essentially, the winery is getting wines at different drainage and elevation levels, all in a very small micro-climate. They manage to produce a number whites, reds and sparkling, including three different Pinot Noirs.
The 2014 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir recently took out the Jimmy Watson Trophy, Australia’s most prestigious trophy for young red wines. There is a school of thought that says that this is due to the opulence of the Kelly’s Reserve Pinot – a ‘new school’ Pinot, if you will. These types of Pinots certainly get people talking, and there is no doubt that the quality is there to see. But the other wines in the range certainly are no pushovers either. Here is something of a review of the wines I tasted today at the cellar door.
Flowering at Home Hill Vineyard - small bunches of grapes forming!
2010 Home Hill ‘Kelly’s Cuvée’
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay making up the mix here. Also has a revived and renovated label if memory serves. Smells the part and tastes the part, and has a pale golden colour to suit. There is a subtle creamy complexity, and some hints of pebbles. Interesting viscosity in this wine. A fair price for the quality and a good sparkling to introduce to wine-loving friends.
2011 Home Hill ‘Ms Daisy’ Sparkling Rosé
Entirely Pinot Noir here, and a pale salmon colour – much paler than many recent rosés that I’ve tried. In fact it’s quite outside the box for standard rosé, especially from Tassie. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it smells remarkably like a much higher-priced rosé. Easily Premier Cru champagne smell for me here, if not more. It brings to mind a tasting I did at Champagne Paul Bara in 2014 – that’s saying a lot. The palate is linear and complex, with a smooth finish that hints at the fabulous vinous feel of the wine. A great effort – probably no surprise given the quality of Pinot here.
2014 Home Hill Sylvaner
The Sylvaner vines here go back to 1992 – quite an old planting in this state. From the off, it’s impressive. Enticing colour, but the smell is unctuous and fine, with a Gewurz-meets-Riesling kind of vibe. But it’s definitely neither of those. It’s head and shoulders above the Gewurz I’ve had from Tassie and a different beast to the Rieslings here. Still has the Tasmanian mouth-watering acidity, but the texture in the mouth its bloody fine indeed. Would absolutely create a memorable food experience if paired with BBQ duck or fried pork dumplings. Loved it – completely surprised by it – but loved it.
2013 Home Hill Unwooded Chardonnay
In recent years I’ve changed my tune on unwooded Chardonnays. I used to cringe at that word ‘unwooded.’ I think a different moniker would probably be in order, if not for the fact that I think everybody would be quite lost without that guide word. The smell is of clean ripe fruit but also a minerally, flinty complexity. They’ve really retained the quality of fruit but not skimped on vinification or preparation quality. The fruit is so well balanced as to introduce a hint of rich complexity that is confusing when you’re reading ‘unwooded’ on the label. Good wine – great seafood wine I would say. Crème brulee might work here too.
2013 Home Hill ‘Kelly’s Reserve’ Chardonnay
Big claims on the Kelly’s Reserve label – they’re building up quite a reputation here. This one has had very luxurious treatment, and looks a cute above too. Richer chardonnay complexity, along with some barrel treatment, spars with the razor-like acidity. Grapefruit notes are just the entrée to the richer side of the wine, which when served at a great temperature and not too cold – as it bordered on here – it is a great experience. I can’t help thinking that it just skirts the edge of complete superiority. Still, I am not complaining. It would pass the roast chicken pairing test with flying colours, and with the acidity, maybe something a little fattier too. Fried chicken?
Quick note: How does the temperature of wine affect its flavour? Wine served too cold – especially white wine – will show as very closed and lacking in flavour. Red wines will often show a very spicy or peppery flavour, and white wines will often show cut grass notes and taste very acidic. Serving your wines on or close to the right temperature is vital for fulfilling the capacity of the wine. 9-12 Celsius for whites (the higher quality, the more texture you will find at slightly warmer temperatures) and for reds, 15-18 Celsius depending on how you like it.
2014 Home Hill Landslide Pinot Noir
Entry-level Pinot Noir here (not counting the estate-bottled cleanskin on sale at the cellar door, which is also quite good), and shows in the paler colour and lighter texture. Very peppery, with spice notes to the fore. Feels like it’s getting toward a good place, and maybe with a year in bottle would fill out a little. Quite tense and poised, and the slicing acidity makes this a food wine for sure. Pricing is quite attractive for this wine, too, and I would recommend it as a wine to open your opinion up to a different type of Pinot possible in Tasmania.
2014 Home Hill Estate Pinot Noir
Probably the bread and butter of the estate. Priced well and quality is high. Has multiple layers on the nose, including the cherry and cranberry flavours but also some earthy texture weaving through. Hints of sous bois – that forest floory, woody kind of atmosphere – combine to give this wine a real sense of the slopes on which it was grown. Highly evocative, yet with a restraint that is a real win for the Home Hill team. It could have run away, but it’s held in shape by a framework of fine tannins. Great wine, full stop.
Cellar door entrance at Home Hill Wines, Ranelagh, Tasmania
2013 Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir
The top end of the Pinot spectrum here at Home Hill. They take a lot of pride in its pedigree and rightly so. The 2014 version has won the Jimmy Watson trophy, and they’re limiting its sale to 1 per customer. The 2012 and 2013 also received positive reviews, and with one in the cellar at home, I thought I’d better give it another whirl here at the cellar door to check its progress. Reeks of quality. Aroma, flavour and finish are all in order. Spotless wine, fine-grained tannin guiding the wine through to a finish of soaring quality. Broad yet defined complexity and the sous bois of the estate wine dials up to 11. The fruit is there, and I would love to see how it will evolve in 5 years time.
For a complete, free list of my tasting notes, click here.