Giant Steps: Exploring single vineyards of the Yarra Valley from the 2018 vintage
While Steve Flamsteed and his 2020 vintage crew are in the midst of sorting berries and hand-plunging ferments, we are enjoying Giant Steps’ much lauded 2018 release, one of the great vintages of the last decade.
Good winter rains left the ground with a healthy amount of moisture resources. Canopies were large and healthy, and the fruit set was extraordinarily successful. A fantastic Spring, with highly successful flowering, allowed for shoot thinning and cluster selection down to one bunch per shoot, and the vine/fruit balance was the best the team had seen in years. After a warm January, the flavours and skin ripeness came on very quickly. The whole ripening season was a little earlier than average and, despite some good January rain, the overall growing season was relatively dry. Even though the days were warm, the nights were cool, resulting in elegant, minerally refined Chardonnays and uniquely perfumed, generous Pinot Noirs of great colour.
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, as well as a gentle breeze off the protecting mountain ranges. Why? Because Phil wanted to grow amazing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit to make wines of purity and finesse.
Steve Flamsteed, Chief Winemaker at Giant Steps since 2003, has set about creating a range of Single Vineyard wines that personify each site. The Yarra Valley Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, LDR and Syrah were then created, clearly displaying the Yarra Valley fruit in a simple, textural and affordable light. Steve was named Gourmet Traveller Wine 'Winemaker of the Year 2016' and the chairman of judges Peter Forrestal said at the time:
"Steve Flamsteed is a man of many talents with a finely tuned palate, an instinctive flair for winemaking and fastidious attention to detail. This shows particularly in the stunning single-vineyard chardonnays and pinots of Giant Steps: distinctive wines that reflect their sites and glow with impeccable finesse."
Giant Steps' single vineyard production varies from vintage to vintage. In 2018, we shipped wines from the Sexton, Applejack, Wombat Creek, Tarraford and Primavera Vineyards, which are outlined below. Please speak with your usual contact at Liberty Wines about availability and a full list of accolades.
130 – 210 metres above sea level
Owned and run by Phil Sexton, this is situated next to Coldstream Hills and Yarra Yering, in the heart of the Yarra Valley. Poor soils produce miserly yields, leading in turn to intense and concentrated wines.
300 metres above sea level
Purchased by Phil Sexton in 2013, this is situated in the Upper Yarra, where soils are generally deep and more volcanic in origin. However, the Applejack Vineyard is on grey/brown clay loam which reduces vigour and yields, making it perfectly suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The site elevation is just under 300 metres, but its proximity to dense, temperate forest makes this site significantly cooler than Sexton and Tarraford.
WOMBAT CREEK VINEYARD
420 metres above sea level
The highest altitude vineyard in the Yarra Valley, this is an ideal site for the production of cool climate wines. The underlying ferrous-based volcanic soil and rock produces distinctively soft yet long wines with a firm palate, in contrast with the finer palates seen from the nearby Applejack Vineyard.
100 metres above sea level
Soils in the Tarraford Vineyard are a clay-loam duplex and contain a fairly solid ironstone content. The root profiles are deep and vertical, which means the vines are accessing material deep into the soil subsurface. The Chardonnay that comes off Tarraford is highly perfumed, and there is a citrus-peel element that is characteristic of the Chardonnay from this site, irrespective of vintage conditions.
230 metres above sea level
The Giant Steps team have a long-standing relationship with the Primavera family, having sourced fruit from the vineyard for some years. The red friable soil is critical in shaping the complex structure and pronounced perfume of the wine. It is testament to the increasing quality of this site that they are now producing a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Primavera.
Click the Giant Steps Single Vineyard map below to view in full: