The name Hollaia, a simple play on words, reveals much about this wine. Ian Hollick’s inspiration was ‘the great Sangiovese dominant blends of Italy that flew against the face of their appellation system by introducing non-indigenous varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and became known as Super-Tuscans’. Famous examples are Sassicaia - so famous it gets its own entry in the Oxford Companion to Wine - and Ornellaia. So this is an upside-down version since the immigrant in this case is Sangiovese, which he planted (along with Tempranillo) on their Red Ridge vineyard in Wrattonbully, just north of Coonawarra, after a trial planting in Coonawarra - their home base - in 1995.
Hollick Wines celebrated their 25th anniversary this year. This family company (annual production of around 50,000 cases) is run by Ian and Wendy Hollick and their daughters Kate and Mel, pictured here. The wines are made from three core vineyards: Neilson’s Block in Coonawarra (planted by Ian and Wendy in 1975), nearby Wilgah vinyard and Red Ridge vineyard in Wrattonbully, developed in 1998. Eighty per cent of their 200 acres (80 ha) is planted to red varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot but they also have Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. There’s a modern cellar door with restaurant but the original cellar door was a cottage built in 1860, pictured below in its restored state.
Hollaia 2005 Wrattonbully is just the second vintage and the blend of 65% Sangiovese and 35% Cabernet is recognisable from start to finish. It’s deep garnet yet still bright and has a complex range of aromas from gently meaty, savoury, olive and herbs to sweetly spiced dark cherry and plum fruit, the marrying and complexity increased by 18 months in mainly French oak. Classic Sangiovese structure of tangy acidity and firm tannins has been tamed by ripeness of fruit and refined by the purity of Cabernet, without any loss of freshness. Intense and still elegant, brisk and moreish, it's made for Italian-inspired food. Hollick suggests osso bucco or tagliatelle ragu. It is extremely well balanced and weighs in at very reasonable 13% alcohol.
Sealed under screwcap.
The Hollick Wines website lists international distributors by country, though it's not yet available in the US (sorry). In the UK, it’s imported by Seckford Wine Agencies and is available from Great Grog, Edinburgh; Abbey Wines, Melrose; Nidderdale Wines, Yorkshire; S H Jones, Banbury; James Nicholson, Belfast; Gerrard Seel, Manchester; Hedley Wright, Bishops Stortford; Bijou Bottles, Norfolk; Experience Wine, Truro.
In Australia it is mainly available in restaurants but the Hollick site lists the all the Australian stockists.