In 1997 Phil Sexton arrived in the Yarra Valley in search of altitude, aged soils, slopes of exposure, regular rainfall and cool to cold night time temperatures and a gentle breeze off the protecting mountain ranges. Why, because he wanted to grow amazing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit to make wines of purity and finesse.
Located in a protected valley, the boutique Tarraford Vineyard has a discrete microclimate that is cooler than neighbouring sites. Planted in 1988, a diversity of aspect and clones provide multifaceted winemaking opportunities. Giant Steps are committed to exploring biodynamic farming practices with the overall aim of further developing the vineyard fingerprint and embracing the unique personality of this site.
Hand picked and whole bunch pressed without additions. Course settled to 500L French puncheons. Indigenous fermentation. Batonnage for the first month, then topped and let rest (maturing) for a further 8 months on lees. New and used tight grain French oak – 20% new, 80% older. Coarse filtration only. Bottled by gravity.
Located in a protected valley, Tarraford Vineyard has a discreet microclimate, that is cooler than neighbouring sites. A diversity of aspect and clone provides multifaceted winemaking opportunities. Although located in a warmer part of the valley, the site produces Chardonnay with high natural acids (and low pH) expressing itself through its characteristically long palate, fine tight structure and a zesty lemon/grapefruit finish.
Giant Steps is an independent winery in Healesville, Victoria, owned by Phil Sexton. Phil first made his name in establishing some noted micro-breweries, such as Little Creatures, and later established Devil’s Lair in Margaret River. First released in 2001, Giant Steps focuses exclusively on the distinctive expression of single vineyard sites in the Yarra Valley. Grapes are drawn from estate and leased vineyards, as well as a selection of long-term contracted vineyards. Giant Steps wines are produced fastidiously in the vineyard and vinified with minimal intervention so that each is a faithful expression of site, vintage and culture. Giant Steps focuses on restrained Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and cool climate Cabernet/Merlot blends. These single vineyard wines are sourced from five different vineyards throughout the Yarra, so each is a fingerprint of location and site personality. The name Giant Steps comes in part from Phil’s love for jazz and John Coltrane’s album of that same name, and in part due the Giant Step Phil took in relocating with his family from Margaret River to the Yarra Valley. Giant Steps wines are always exclusively single vineyard Yarra Valley wines. They are hand made in small batches using gravity flow principles. Production of the Giant Steps wines is very limited with some vineyards producing as little as 200 cases each vintage – some wines are not produced each year if vintage conditions do not allow. These wines are often hard to find in retail outlets as they are mainly sold through the cellar door and through selected restaurants.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
Tarraford Vineyard is located in a small valley that provides protection and a cooler site climate than adjacent parts of the Yarra Valley floor, with consequently higher natural acidity than any of its siblings (7.6g/l). The vinification remains identical. deliberately leaving the minerally shell intact.
A very composed and attractively elegant chardonnay that has an impeccably smooth array of lemon and peach-sorbet aromas with very subtle, fresh-nutty notes. The palate has such smooth build. Really refined and elegant. Drink or hold.
Mouthwatering and precise, with a lovely blend of Asian pear, green apple and mandarin orange flavors that mingle with candied ginger peel, spice and floral details. Shows a silky weightlessness. Drink now.
MIKE BENNIE - THE WINE FRONT
This is the lowest altitude vineyard (100m) and the warmest site for Giant Steps chardonnay. The winemaking is almost a ‘control’ as described by Steve Flamsteed, winemaker. The gist is uniform application of winemaking. Vineyard planted 1988, which might be a thing too. Delightful wine, cool and refreshing, slippery texture, pristine green apple, sweet lemon and green pear flavours, little puffs of talc-like texture in the midst, a bit of pleasing width here, you could call that quiet generosity. Drives beautifully across the palate, exceptional length, verity of grape flavour, purity in feel but depth. Sheesh, this feels great. Thing is, almost a touch too encyclopaedic, if anything!
ANDREW GRAHAM - OZWINEREVIEW.COM
The 2017 Giant Steps wines are magnificent. Pinot, Chardonnay, Gamay et al. All in ‘best ever’ territory. I haven’t liked the riper ‘18s as much, but hit dog this Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 is good. Lots of ripe white peach, with less funk than I expected. Welcome to the arena ripe fruit. Genuine layers of flavour, not contrived or made, and authentic natural acidity. Riper, in a slightly unfashionable way, but a better drink than so many wines because of it. Unquestionably delicious Chardonnay. Best drinking: now to five years.