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.
Tarraford vineyard sits in a protected pocket of the Yarra Valley, giving it one of the cooler climates in the Portfolio. The Chardonnay is intensely lean and mineral driven, with racy acidity. It might show better in a few years although it is already fairly delicious. Like we sad, the man doesn't make a bad wine.
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, but the natural acids in all the chardonnay blocks was surprisingly high. Fruit was hand sorted in both vineyard and winery. 2019 is an exceptional chardonnay vintage.
100% hand picked. Whole bunch pressed, indigenous fermentation. Indigenous fermentation in 500L French puncheons. No batonage. No malolactic fermentation. Maturation for 10 months in new and used French oak – 20% new, 80% older. New oak was Taransaud and D&J.
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.
Produced from one of the Top 100 Wineries in the World this Giant Steps Chardonnay is seen as the king of white varieties. The very stylish number from Phil Sexton and his team is long and textured on the palate with a clean crisp 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.
MIKE BENNIE - THE WINE FRONT
Huge mineral feel, indeed, you’d paste this into the section under ‘Wine; Minerality’ in an encyclopaedia. All pebbles and talc in perfume, sure, some citrus, citrus blossom, faint bread dough notes, but you’re drawn to the flint and element rocky notes primarily. The palate does the same, flint, wet slate, smooth pebbles rolled around the palate, olive brine, green apple juice and lime comes in too. Feels quite firm despite a sense of juiciness and being dart-shaped and long. Finishes with the faintest kiss of salted nuttiness. Just beautiful. Poised and fine.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Very bright, light, fresh looking colour, with a slivered-almond, lightly-toasted cashew nut bouquet; elements of preserved lemon and honey hovering beneath the surface. A suggestion of butterscotch. The wine is rich and mouth-filling but also retains the finesse and restraint that are hallmarks of the maker. A fuller-bodied style than the Sexton.