We’ve recently had the pleasure of tasting a number of the latest releases from some of Victoria’s finest wineries.
Here are some of the highlights that we recommend you try for yourself – both as wines to drink now and also tuck a few away to enjoy with some bottle age.
Some of these wines are extremely limited releases and will sell out fast – hence a few wines have limited purchase ability. Get in quick!
We have limited quantities of the below wines but hope to satisfy any requests.
Curly Flat, Macedon Ranges
The wines from Curly Flat are going from strength to strength since the arrival of winemaker Matt Harrop a few years ago. We had Matt sit down with us at City Wine Shop and show us through the new releases, including 2 extremely limited expressions of their vineyards, from their Central and Eastern Blocks. Both unique wines, given their different clones and soil types. The 2019 Estate Pinot Noir is still very much the flagship and shows all the characteristics that make it one of the most popular wines we offer when dining here at City Wine Shop. From our time with Matt, many of the team also saw the 2019 Curly Flat Chardonnay as the star of the lineup, with the hallmark of quality fruit, balanced acidity and regional expression.
Curly Flat Chardonnay 2019 $56 (Offer Price $50.40)
A truly cool climate expression of Chardonnay with complexity and purity. Volcanic soils, 19 to 27 year old vines, Pressed as Whole bunches, fermented with Indigenous Yeasts, Partial Malolactic fermentation, 14 months on lees, aged 35% in new oak. The 2019 growing season is noted for warm days, cool nights and low rainfall, manifesting complex and textured Chardonnay that’s equal parts flesh and minerality.
“The wine epitomises the potential of the Macedon Ranges for cool climate varieties; there is such concentration and texture yet only 12.7% alcohol and a baseline of mineral acidity that is more akin to quality Burgundy. The nose has white peach that is laced with spice and almond meal, the palate shows an understated elegance with stone fruits and lees inputs building slowly whilst being tempered by citrus and lifted by spiced impact of quality oak. The finish has piercing stone fruits, mealy richness and driving acidity that both hold your attention and focus now, but underwrite a significant future for the wine.”
96 points, Patrick Eckel, Wine Reviewer (winereviewer.com.au)
Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2019 $64 (Offer Price $57.60)
Western and Central represent the opposite ends of the spectrum of what makes up the blend, 2019 Curly Flat Pinot. We find the comparison of these three wines fascinating. 2019 Estate Pinot Noir consists of seventeen separate lots representing distinct aspects, clones and soils. Each of these parcels were handled with minimum intervention in the winery - with the aim of maximising site expression. Indigenous yeasts connect all ferment but varying amounts of whole bunch, post ferment skin contact and individual oak handling were utilised respective to the lot characters themselves. The Estate blend consists of 22% whole bunch and 22% new oak and was bottled without filtration.
“Deepish dark red colour with a tint of purple and a rich spicy, 'forest floor' and dark-cherry bouquet, subtly tinged with char-oak. The wine is full-bodied and strongly built, with voluminous flavour, serious tannin structure and plenty of grip. An impressive pinot of impressive weight, flesh and density, which promises to age superbly.” Drink 2022–2034
96 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Curly Flat 'Western' Pinot Noir 2019 $64 Order Limit: 1 Bottle
Western is from the coolest part of the vineyard using clones 115 & 114 which generate a more delicate and perfumed wine. As with our inaugural 2018 Western Pinot Noir, our 2019 has been sourced from our coolest viticultural sites. Planted in 1997 & 1998 these blocks now form the fragrant peak of Curly Flat Pinot Noir. Eastern facing and situated on a rising slope to the west, the upper areas receive the morning to midday sun but receive only dappled light come late afternoon, providing for slower ripening and greater retention of aromatics. While the majority of soils in this area are geologically young volcanic red soils, select parcels find themselves situated in soils eroded from an ancient seafloor dating back 430 million years. We call this area ‘white dirt’ due to the noticeably lighter appearance.
“Deep red/purple colour, with a sweetly-scented raspberry, black cherry and mixed spice bouquet. The wine is full and ample, rounded and supple-textured, loaded with delicious intense pinot flavours and ample soft, fine-grained tannins, the aftertaste lingering long. A superb pinot, thoroughly delicious in every way. The tannins suggest it will take some age to advantage. (From the westernmost and coolest site, the vines planted in 1997 and 1998.)” 2022-2034
96 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Curly Flat ‘Central’ Pinot Noir 2019 $64 Order Limit: 1 Bottle
Central is from MV6 clone grown in the warmest part of the vineyard, giving rise to a more robust wine.
100% MV6 clone Pinot Noir, this block represents what has been the structural heart of Curly Flat Pinot Noir since our first vintage in 1998. Northern facing and nestled upon a gentle slope that rises to the south, this block is a natural amphitheatre for the sun to interact with these maturing vines that are bedded in geologically young soils (2 million years) consisting of rare volcanic, of which have only known to have occurred in Australia throughout small parts of our region. The wines grown here consist of fine, detailed tannin and expresses both aromatically and rich in both fruit and fragrance.
“It’s from the estate’s 1992 planting, aka its oldest vines. It was fermented wild before going into 27% new oak. This takes the tannin up another notch; I was bowled over by this, it’s a terrific wine. Meaty, smoky, plum-shot, silken, cedar-laced. But bold with tannin. Muscular in a nuanced way. The ‘standard’ Curly Flat pinot noir grew on me over the hours; this one hit me with its quality immediately. You can see the grains in this and I mean that as a positive; it’s like an LP, analog, grainy, its flavours told in grooves. Drink : 2022 - 2028+”
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Bannockburn Vineyards, Geelong
One of the iconic wineries of Victoria, a shining light each year of fruit expression and of their ‘house style’. Also a favourite wine of many, we like the 2019 Pinot Noir so much, we are also offering it By the Glass here at the Wine Bar. And always a special release when available, is the 2018 SRH Chardonnay and 2018 Serre Pinot Noir for arguably some of the best examples of those varieties produced in Victoria. They can be enjoyed now and will be wonderful at any stage over the next ten years, if you have the patience. These will sell out fast! And always a consistent wine is Bannockburn Chardonnay. The new release 2020 vintage is generous and delicious. We are also fortunate to have a few bottles of the 2014 vintage which will showcase the benefit of aging. Again, limited supply, so get in quick.
Bannockburn Chardonnay 2020 $63 (Offer Price $56.70)
The Bannockburn Chardonnay is drawn chiefly from the Estate’s Olive Tree Hill Vineyard (planted in 1976) and Winery Block (1981), which are both on volcanic soils over limestone, with an average vine age of around 35 years. Whole-bunch pressed and settled overnight, the juice was then wild-fermented in mainly 500-litre French oak hogsheads (20% new), with 70% undergoing malolactic. The wine spent 10 months on lees with no stirring, and no sulphur was added until bottling. Combining both power and finesse, you’ll find aromas of orchard pear and fig fruit, licked with citrus, ripe white peaches and some roasted cashew complexity. In classic Bannockburn mould, the flow is seamless. It’s both mouth-filling and lithe; a release bursting with flavour and an equally engaging measure of savoury restraint.
“Straw-coloured but then fresh and pear-like on the palate. Interesting wine, quite distinctive, with flashes of quartz and sweet cedar matched to gun smoke and lemon curd. It has both length and intensity on its side, along with complexity, but perhaps not harmony. It’s not close to ready; it needs time.”
93+ points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2019 $63 (Offer Price $56.70)
The 2019 was drawn from a range of blocks (planted in 1976, 1997 and 2007), all on soils of volcanic loam and dark clay over a limestone base, and with a wide variety of clones (mainly MV6 with a smattering of the ‘Dijon’ or ‘Bernard’ clones 114, 115 and 777). All the fruit was
destemmed and fermented with indigenous yeast, with just 20% whole bunches and 20% carbonic maceration. Élevage played out for 10 months, primarily in Tronçais hogsheads (25% new). Under Matt Holmes, the Pinot Noir style is now a little less lavish than that of his predecessors—now you’ll find impressively pure flavours derived from a more reticent use of whole bunches and the earlier bottling regime. Picked before the late-February heatwave, Holmes is justifiably delighted with what was a tremendous year for Bannockburn Pinots. With its loaded mix of red and black fruits, tobacco spices and just enough aromatic whole-bunch notes, this is a spicy, supple and long Pinot of true weight. It finishes with ripe and velvety, yet persistent, tannin.
“Medium red colour with tints of purple and black, the bouquet char-oaky, smoky, stemmy and bunchy, and more appealing than that may sound. The palate is rich and full, with loads of detail and nuance, heaps of interest, the palate full and rich, round and very fruit-sweet at the core, with Campari, balsamic herbs—the full whole-bunch deal. Long finish, too. A satisfying pinot. Good value, too”
96 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Bannockburn SRH Chardonnay 2018 $86 Order Limit: 3 Bottles
the Olive Tree Hill vineyard. It’s named in recognition of Bannockburn’s founder, Stuart Reginald Hooper. These vines are dry-grown with roots well embedded in the ancient marine sediments that form the bedrock in this area. They seem to suck the minerality right out of their
subsoil and deliver a spine-tingling wash of salinity to support the intense richness of flavour and texture for which this benchmark is well known.
The 2018 was wild-fermented in French oak hogsheads (20% new) and then spent 11 months on lees, undergoing 70% malolactic fermentation with minimal stirring. Only a small amount of sulphur was added before early bottling. Aromatic and intense, it starts with grapefruit pith and crushed stone offset by toasted hazelnuts, before moving up the gears, guided by Corton Charlemagne-like sparkle and inner strength.
“Bright, light yellow colour, youthful for its age, while the bouquet is also fresh and young and carries some milk powder and vanilla aromas, with background lightly-toasted almond nuances. The palate is delicate, restrained, refined and subtle, but also has power and length. It’s a wine of real style and, I think, potential to age and improve with time.”
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Bannockburn Serre Pinot Noir 2019 $103 Order Limit: 3 Bottles
The iconic Serré vineyard is a 1.2-hectare site planted in 1984 and 1986 exclusively to the MV6 clone. The soils here have volcanic surface material, with darker clay over weathered basalt and limestone. It is close-planted at 9000 vines per hectare and trellised low with narrow rows.
The 2019 includes parcels of whole-bunch, whole berry, and extended maceration, all fermented wild. It matured for 10 months in French oak hogsheads and was racked to tank before bottling. Even though it’s made precisely like the Bannockburn Pinot Noir above, the Serré is a different beast. It’s tightly coiled and takes a few minutes in the glass to unfurl its inner core of pure and focussed black cherry fruit, layered with clove, star anise and peppercorn spice. The mouthfeel is all sinuous grace, slowly saturating the palate with a subtle and beguiling amalgam of dark cherry and wild black raspberry. The tannins are firm yet silky, and the acidity bright. Campbell’s “stunning” description hits the nail on the head.
“Stunning pinot noir. Complex, confident, silken and sustained. So much earth, so much undergrowth, so much sweet, meaty spice and such positive traces of twigs and wood. But it’s the fruit, cherried, beet-like, ripe at low alcohol levels, suede soft, convincing, that really shines and really gets the job done. We’re in elite territory here.”
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Toolangi Vineyards, Yarra Valley
Since their arrival in the late 1990’s, Toolangi have been one of the many producers that have made high quality wines and why we all have been falling in love with Yarra Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A lot of recent releases from Yarra producers have been stunning quality at all price points, and Toolangi are very much doing the same. The 2019 Chardonnay is complex, yet elegant. And the 2020 Pinot Noir has all the seductive berry and cherry flavours, complemented by some earthy notes. For those that are a little more price conscious – these wines deliver well at this price point. Make up your own mixed case or select a few favourites - these are wines that will be thoroughly enjoyed at your dinner table, complemented with some of your (or some elses!) finest cooking.
Toolangi Chardonnay 2019 $28 (Offer Price $25.20)
Only the second vintage under Kaspar Hermann, 2019 provided Toolangi with wonderfully balanced Chardonnay fruit with concentration of flavour and exceptional natural acidity. The fruit was hand-harvested from Toolangi's 18-year-old plantings (on A, B and G Blocks), crushed
and pressed with full solids straight to oak (10% new). No malo was allowed, and the wine spent ten months on lees in barrel before bottling.
"18yo vines, clones I10V3 and Mendoza, hand-picked, crushed and pressed with juice solids to French puncheons (10% new), no mlf, 10 months on lees. Has unexpected drive and intensity of pink grapefruit flavour."
95 points, Winecompanion.com.au
Toolangi Pinot Noir 2020 $28 (Offer Price $25.20)
From a long and cool growing season, the 2020 Toolangi Pinot was hand-harvested from 2001 plantings (MV6 clone grapes on the bottom of E Block). The fruit was naturally fermented as whole berries with a five-day cold soak and a total of 14 days on skins. It was pressed to French oak (eight per cent new) for nine months and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Again, this is absolutely outstanding value. It’s a bright, perfumed, layered yet juicy Pinot redolent of both a fine vintage and the new approach that Kaspar Hermann has bought to the Toolangi winemaking.
We have limited quantities of these wines but hope to satisfy any requests.