FROM THE REGION
Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 THIS Giant Steps pinot (95 points, $39.95) has evolved exceptionally well in bottle since first tasted a year ago. Brilliantly clear and bright redpurple, it has a complex array of red and black fruits at its core, and acidity that is integral to the wine and to its thrust and length. The 2006 Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay (potentially 96 points, $39.95) showed characteristic grapefruit and mineral characters a year ago but seemed a little clumsy then. The wine still needs time, with the grapefruit and white peach fruit still to fully integrate with the oak. That said, it has undoubted length and persistence. www.giant-steps.com.au. James Halliday example of a radio signal, which may be strong and clear or weak and indistinct. Great terroir falls in the former category and will be heard even if the listener is not paying attention.
The signal of the Tarraford Vineyard has incredible strength. It is situated in a protected micro-valley that it shares with no other vines and which is generally cooler than vineyards outside its valley.
The planting of 2.4ha of pinot noir began in 1989 by Box Hill solicitor Terry Fraser. Chris and Anna Long bought the property in 1994 and began a progressive planting program of new and improved clones chosen by nephew Martin Williams.
Williams bought the grapes from Tarraford and other vineyards, making the wines under his Metier label. The first pinot noir was made by Williams in 1995; in 2000 it was made at Tarrawarra; from 2001 to 2003 it reverted to Metier; none was made in 2004, then in 2005 (and in following vintages) it was made by Giant Steps, which has an indirect long-term lease of the property. Chardonnay was first made in 1997 (under the Metier label), continuing until 2004, when Giant Steps took over.
Vertical tastings of the chardonnay and pinot in December were startling demonstrations of the Tarraford signal. The chardonnay, never acidified, has a rapier-like palate, with grapefruit and mineral notes always present, likewise acidity. The pinot noirs showed an equally consistent and special character: unusually, not acidified, yet always with (natural) tangy, almost citrussy, acidity on the finish. The other common qualities (across a truly mixed bag of vintages) are the energy, thrust and length of the pinots.