Holly’s Garden is situated 750m above sea level in the Whitlands high plateau, an area in the shadow of Mount Buller. The high altitude and cool climate mean that during the winter it’s not uncommon for the grapevines to be covered in snow. It also allows for long ripening times, enabling the sugar and acidity to slowly develop. Winemaker Neil Prentice started making sparkling wines from Pinot Noir in 2007, using a unique clone grown from seed on his property. The vines are planted on deep basalt rocks, rich in minerals, giving the wines robust flavours. Deep basalt rocks can, however, create a tendency for the vines to become overly vigorous and produce more fruit, which then dilutes those flavours. Neil sees the Whitlands as ‘the best region in Australia for growing sparkling base’, as evidenced by Domain Chandon purchasing Brown Brothers’ Whitlands vineyard. Neil is also a huge champion of Pinot Gris, which thrives in colder climates, rather than the warm to hot climates, which create ‘flabby, flavourless wines’. Exposure to some of the greatest wines emanating from biodynamic vineyards, is one reason Neil uses the practice on his own plot, due to the belief that it produces better grapes and therefore better wine.
Holly’s Garden produces a range of wines, mastering whites and sparklings. The Holly’s Garden Pinot Gris was first made in 1997, and the style has been evolving ever since, with Neil believing it is now reminiscent of Alsatian versions of the style. The Rosé Brut Ebullience is made from Pinot Noir with the wine soaking on the skins for just a few hours to extract some colour. The wine is left in barrels on its lees (dead yeast cells) for a year before bottling. The Überbrut sparkling is a ‘blanc de noir’ (white sparkling made from red grapes), a mixture of different years in order to make a non-vintage blend.
For more information on Holly’s Garden, head to their website.