In 2016 Steve Flamsteed was named the Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the year. His work at Giant Steps in Yarra Valley has raised the winery to that of a modern day Australian Icon. Recently, we at My Wine Guy were lucky enough to try all of the New release 2019’s in a horizontal tasting, and one thing is pretty clear; the man doesn’t make a bad wine.
The Giant steps single vineyard release is one that is anticipated by fans of the brand every year, and the 2019 vintage does not disappoint. Flamsteed makes wines from six single sites in the Yarra Valley. Each wine is extremely elegant and well made, the winemaking flare of this talented vigneron is evident, however their individual terroir shines through as well.
The Sexton is refined and savoury, with a delicate structure. Elegance is a mark of Flamsteed's winemaking and this one is dripping with it. It's particularly hard to pick a favourite across these new releases because they are all such high quality but the Sexton is definitely a contender.
A cool start to the season was punctuated by a few solid rain events in December that resulted in very large healthy green vineyard canopies. The final stage of the growing season was warmer than average which led to accelerated ripening, and dark colours. Natural acidity across the Pinot blocks was surprisingly high. Fruit was hand sorted in both vineyard and winery. There is an incredible structure to the 19 vintage Pinots.
Hand-picked, all fruit is chilled overnight to 12 degrees Celsius. Cold soak for 3 – 4 days, then allowed to warm to kick start fermentation Indigenous yeast. Fermented in small oak fermenters. The 115 was fermented as 100% whole bunch, while the Pommard and MV6 were destemmed, soaked cold for 5 days, then allowed to warm gently into a wild ferment. All parcels were matured in French oak – 25% new, 75% older – for 8 months in 225L barriques. Racked to blend, no fining, no filtration.
Bottled by gravity.
Located on the steep north facing slopes of the Warramate Ranges, the Sexton Vineyard is exposed and demanding. Being on the higher slopes, topsoil is thin and root systems have established themselves in shallow gravelly loams above a tough rocky clay base. Bunch yields set naturally low in this environment, resulting in intensely flavoured fruit with high skin to juice ratio.
Spiced rhubarb in a bottle, this pinot is wild, dense and plump. Earthy characters fuse with dark cherry, rhubarb, strawberry and plum flavours which are complemented by oak and grippy tannin. Hints of chocolate and herbal notes finish it off. Enjoy it with an array of meat dishes including roast pork, veal, duck and lamb.
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.
MIKE BENNIE - THE WINE FRONT
Sexy Sexton Supple, soft and come-hither pinot noir. Cherry, red berries, nougat, subtle spice and a good lick of juicy acidity. It feels broad but well honed, lots of flavour, lots of space in the palate, finishes spicy and fresh. A very seductive pinot with lots of detail in tow.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Savoury, fusty bouquet of earth and dried flower heads. The palate is intense and focused, refined and quite complex, especially considering its youth and station. Lovely mouth-feel and balance. Soft, fine tannins. A touch of aniseed and berry jam to close. Drinking superbly already.