Giant Steps Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2017
2017 really was a sensational vintage! Good intermittent rainfall with cool to mild temperatures, and not a day over 40 degrees during the summer months marked 2017 out as a classic cool climate vintage. All varieties came in later than average, ripening at an unhurried pace in these ideal growing conditions, producing wines of incredible structure, detail and length.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Very good color; the intensity of the aromas and flavors unfolding with the first sip stop you in your tracks. The whole bunch component is evident, but not dominant, simply one of many factors in shaping the flavor and texture of this lovely wine.
When John Coltrane split with Miles Davis in the late 50s, he wasted little time releasing his visionary Giant Steps album. Winemaker (and equally successful brewmaster) Phil Sexton was inspired by the album and Coltrane's foresight. When Sexton sold his Devil's Lair vineyard in Margaret River to relocate and replant in the Yarra Valley, he named his wine in Coltrane's honor. Sexton chose Yarra Valley because of his admiration for the long aging and fine boned wines produced by the new generation of wine growers reestablishing this historic wine region. Giant Steps has forged a reputation for delivering some of Australia's most consistent, over-performing, varietal wines reflected by its ongoing, praise-worthy global acclaim including being a six-time Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries of the Year, 2013-2018. Giant Steps focuses primarily on the distinctive expression of single vineyard sites in the Yarra Valley. Grapes are drawn from estate and leased vineyards as well as fruit from long-term grower contracts, supported by strong relationships and meticulous supervision throughout the year
As the most important area of wine production in Victoria today, the Yarra Valley is most popular for its Pinot noir and Chardonnay, which account for over half of vineyard acreage. A gentle, rolling and rural region alongside the Margaret River, the Yarra Valley has a cool maritime climate with a lengthy growing season, perfect for these cool-climate varieties.
The warmer, Lower Yarra Valley in the north has sandy loam soils and produces a plush and fruity Pinot noir. The cooler, higher-elevation Upper Yarra Valley in the south has the soils composed of younger, red basalt and produces more angular and mineral-driven Pinot noir.
Yarra Valley Chardonnay is among the best in Australia. The modern style is stony and flinty rather than fat and tropical. Malolactic fermentation is rare, but while barrel fermentation is common, barrel maturation is restrained to preserve the floral aromatics and fresh citrus flavors for which this area’s Chardonnay is so appreciated. The best Yarra Valley Chardonnays display brilliant acidity, leesy characteristics, sweet citrus, stone fruit and flavors of ginger and spice.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.