The Sexton Pinot Noir is wonderfully intricate: notes of wild blackberry, dried mushroom, mulberry bush with braised plum, cinnamon stick and sour cherry. Its focused and fine tannins are assisted by judicious Burgundian oak treatment.
Giant Steps Winery
Giant Steps is owned and operated by a small team - Phil, Allison and Harry Sexton. Their story starts 1600 miles and 23 years ago when Phil established the Devils Lair vineyard in Margaret River. He was joined there in 1990 by Allison, an American biochemist. Five years later, their son Harry was born.
While they loved the wines they were producing, they dreamed of creating a small, specialized cool climate vineyard together, as a family, from scratch. In 1997, they sold Devils Lair and crossed Australia to a dream site on the slopes of Victoria's Yarra Valley, alongside benchmark cool climate vineyards they had long admired.
Great wine is made in the vineyard. At its best, it is like a fingerprint, inextricably linking the personality and mood of the land from which it has sprung. The Sextons feel their role as winemakers is to express the true character of the fruit, shepherding it through the winemaking process with minimum intervention. They seek to grow fruit and make wine that is less overt and obvious than is encouraged in Australia. They look for structure and length rather than breadth, finesse rather than largesse and above all, fruit rather than artifact. All work is done by hand, and they strive to grow the best fruit possible, whatever the cost.
A short drive from Melbourne, Yarra Valley is the oldest and most successful of Victoria's wine growing regions. The cool climate of the area makes it suitable for the popular varieties of Pinot Noir & Chardonnay. Shiraz also thrives, and produces elegant and restrained versions of the varietal.
Producers in Yarra Valley have hit their stride when it comes to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Instead of striving to make wine like Burgundy or California, winemakers are crafting a Yarra Valley style, letting the grapes and the soil do the talking. Getting better each year, Yarra Valley is a region to watch.
Like the United States, which is about the same size, Australia's winemaking regions are huddled into one or two pockets of the country. The state of South Australia, which produces about 60% of the country's wine, also has the most wineries and sub-regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa Valley. New South Wales is home to the Hunter Valley, while the smaller, southern state of
Victoria is best known for theYarra Valley. Head way west to the very large state of Western Australia and you'll find the tiny region of Margaret River at the southern tip.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.