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.
Wombat Creek is a high altitude vineyard, it produces fantastic cool climate wines. This was possibly my pick of the 2019 Chardonnay as it has the minerality and precision of cool climate Chardonnay, but it also had that whack of lees character and savoury complexity. Everything we hope for in a cool climate Chardonnay.
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. 2 puncheons went through spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Maturation for 10 months in new and used French oak – 20% new, 80% older. New oak was Taransaud and D&J.
Wombat Creek Vineyard is the highest altitude vineyard in the Yarra Valley, making it an ideal location for the production of extreme cool climate wines. The vineyard was originally planted in 1988 with the intention of producing base wine for sparkling production but over the years has been gradually transitioned to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for table wine. The underlying ferrous (red) based volcanic soil and rock produce a distinctively soft yet long and firm palate that contrasts with the finer palates seen from the nearby Applejack Vineyard (basalt based volcanic).
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
Tight and lean, skeletal and firm, barely there citrus characters, mineral water, saline notes. Whips across the palate in a green, cool, almost minty breath of precise and ultra fine, needle thrust of chardonnay. Blink and you’ll miss it kind of style but has the finesse and tension many seek from Australia’s uber chardonnay revolution. Despite its attempt at acid-forged finesse, there’s just a lick or a breath of yeasty nuttiness in there too. Nicely done in its style, where laser-like precision is the motif.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Bright, light-yellow colour. The bouquet is intense and bright, fresh and piercing, with an appealing lacework of nutty oak, which is less evident in the mouth. A hint of butter. A chardonnay of superb intensity, drive and finesse, cashew, toasted almond and melon flavours neatly harmonised.