WINE: The Wizard Pinot Noir 

A WINE, an Australian Wimbledon singles victory and a failed tennis racquet tree plantation in Tasmania are the ingredients of this story.
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It unfolded after I received a bottle of the Holm Oak 2010 The Wizard Pinot Noir from Rebecca and Tim Duffy’s Holm Oak operation at Rowella, 40kilometres north of Launceston, in northern Tasmania.

The wine, which is reviewed today, is the second vintage of the marque and gets its name from The Wizard tennis racquet used by Australia’s Jack Crawford when he won Wimbledon in 1933.

The racquet was made by the Alexander Patent Racquet Co in Launceston using imported English ash.

Rebecca Duffy tells me the Holm Oak property was once owned by Alexander North, a prominent Tasmanian architect, who was on the board of the Alexander racquet company.

North decided to plant oak and ash trees on his land with the aim of supplying wood for Alexander racquets. He was also involved in planting a larger English ash plantation at Hollybank, near Lilydale, in Tasmania’s north-east.

Sadly the wood from Holm Oak didn’t meet the standards required and Hollybank also proved a failure because the trees were planted too close together.

The Alexander factory on the corner of Abbott and Wentworth streets, Launceston, no longer operates. In the 1930s and 1940s, however, it prospered making not only tennis racquets, but cricket bats, badminton and squash racquets, furniture, wooden bicycle rims and, during World War II, ammunition boxes.

Although its tree-growing experiment failed, the Holm Oak property took a promising new turn in 1983, when the then owners established a small pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon vineyard. These vines produced the first Holm Oak wines in 1987 and in 1991 riesling vines were added to the mix.

In 2004 Rebecca Duffy’s father, Ian Wilson, a King Island farmer, and her mother Robyn, an island estate agent, bought the property.

Under Wilson family ownership, Rebecca made her first Holm Oak wines in 2007.

Born on King Island and schooled in Launceston, Rebecca tried her hand as a cheesemaker on King Island, but quickly decided that wine was a far better choice.

After graduating from the University of Adelaide wine science degree course, she worked at South Australia’s Tatachilla winery at McLaren Vale and in California’s Napa Valley.

From there she went in 2001 to Western Australia’s Capel Vale wine company as assistant winemaker, later rising to senior winemaker.

In 2006, Rebecca left WA to take charge of Holm Oak winemaking while her husband, viticultural agronomist Tim Duffy, took on management of the 10.4-hectare Holm Oak plantings of arneis, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc.

Tim also oversees his parents’ vineyard in Victoria’s Swan Hill area that provides the muscat a petits grains grapes used to make the distinctive Holm Oak Moscato wines.

Rebecca and Tim, the parents of two young sons, have proved themselves expert and innovative producers, with riesling, arneis and pinot noir. Rebecca believes the 600-litre, $6000 seamless oval concrete fermentation vessel creates different temperature layers, producing a vortex that keeps the lees in suspension. The lees contain lots of dead yeast cells that over time break down and create wines of rich creamy textures.

Rebecca matured 20per cent of the current-release $30 Holm Oak 2012 Chardonnay for eight months in the Nomblot and is well-pleased with the results.

They have introduced a French-made Nomblot egg to their winery and along with the $25 2012 Riesling and 2012 Arneis, the $22 Ilex Pinot Noir, the $32 Pinot Noir and the $60 2010 The Wizard Pinot Noir are available at holmoakvineyards杭州夜生活m.au.

Rebecca and Tim Duffy.

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