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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.­ 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.


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