Last week we reviewed each and every barrel (as we do every year) from the 2011 vintage to determine the split between our two labels. Before we explain our barrel classification process, first a little about the two labels. Curly Flat and Williams Crossing have always represented exceptional value in terms of purity in both varietal and site expression relative to their price points. Both labels are born of the one vineyard and vinified with uniform care and attention but for a myriad of reasons, a barrel may not always reach our exacting standards to make Curly Flat which we feel is structurally complete and built for the long haul in the cellar. But this shouldn’t lead people to believe our second label is second rate, far from it. Williams Crossing provides for exceptional earlier drinking with clear varietal expression that also offers rewards for medium term cellaring but also serves to advertise our mission statement in a bottle, as the high quality of Williams Crossing conveys our intent to make Curly Flat the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay through the lens of our site.
So how do we decide what’s what? With a panel of at least 4 people (The winery team that consists of Phillip Moraghan, Matt Regan, Ben Kimmorley and then Robert Paul, our independent consultant who provides an external viewpoint) we assess every barrel of the vintage as they approach a year in maturation represented via a 375ml sample and scrutinise it under the conditions of a blind tasting. Once we have had around two minutes to form our own independent views, the make up of the barrel is revealed i.e:
- Block (Vineyard Location)
- Clone(s) (5 Clones of Pinot Noir & 4 clones of Chardonnay)
- Cooper (Barrel Source)
- Barrel Age (First, second, third use etc.)
- Forest (Allier, Troncais, Vosges etc.)
- Destemmed or Whole Bunch %
- Trial Work (something we’ve tried differently vs. standard practice)
We then spend around an equal amount of time deliberating the barrels nuances and potential offering to either WX or the CF label. Once all barrels are classified, the break down of information is then entered into our ever growing database, allowing for the slow revelation of potential trends, further informing us for future decisions. It will take years for true patterns to appear, not to say we’re looking for a singular formula as that approach is against the ultimate nature of our pursuit, which is allowing each vintage to express itself in the bottle. For this we feel we already have got the most important element right. This is the exceptional aspect and soils that make up Curly Flat Vineyard, and our main charge is to unlock its total potential, which will just take time and for that there is no substitute.
As we all know wine is best enjoyed with great food. To highlight this fact were holding several dinners over the next few months to showcase the new release 2009 Curly Flat Pinot Noir. We’ll also be showing three older vintages of Pinot (’01, ‘03 & ‘05), which serves as a great opportunity to see the youthful splendor of vibrant fruit and at once, how with age, our wines sublime gracefully into a more complex and rarefied savoury expression of top Pinot Noir.
Bolstering further an already insightful event you’ll also see our current Curly Flat Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Rosé. Wines that have each been identified as prime examples of varietal or stylistic expression by critics and consumers alike.
Melbourne Dinner @ Sosta Cucina – Wednesday, 29 February 2012 $135p/person
From the heart of Northern Italy to the heart of North Melbourne, Sosta Cucina delivers fine cuisine with warm and familiar service. Please make bookings through Sosta Cucina on 03 9329 2882.
Sydney Dinner @ Bei Amici – Sunday, 4 March 2012 $135 p/person
Located in Sydney’s Darling Point, Bei Amici is a boutique Swiss Italian restaurant with a fine range of provincial dishes. Bookings through Bei Amici on 02 9328 0305.
Harvest Lunch @ Curly Flat – April 2012 Date & Price: TBC
Harvest this year will see a Pinot release lunch in our 1880’s homestead, Vintage Hall. Worth it for the dining experience alone but harvest is also a great time to visit Curly Flat. Come and see the activity in the winery whilst gaining further insights into our story and our vineyard based approach to wine making.
With the new year well under way, the vineyard at Curly Flat is on track with fruit set completed as of mid December. As of late January, Veraison (where green hard berries begin taking on it’s varietal colour and start accumulating sugars) has begun around 2 to 3 weeks early as have been all the stages from budburst on wards. Whilst the growing season hasn’t had that many high maximums, more subtly, the minimums are staying relatively high giving consistent momentum to the vines growth. This coupled with the relatively high humidity and the ever present UV levels may explain this earlier development. Saying that we are now in a pretty dry spell after only receiving 26mm for January and some warm days with constant wind has resulted in 162mm of evaporation. We’ve seen just about every manifestation of weather, outside of snow (which we did have in mid November 2007!) The biggest factor of course is the weather, and it just wouldn’t be agriculture if we didn’t have a few hairy moments. Come Christmas Day that’s just what we got!
To the crack of the Christmas bonbon, came the roar of thunder that cut through the humidity thickened air. This heralded the storms that then lashed Central Victoria with tornadoes to the north-west of Melbourne and, on a wider scale, devastating hail stones that ranged in size from the humble pea to that of a small fist which hit with a force that punched through windscreens with ease. As this event unfolded we were pinned to the radar whilst receiving a torrential, almost tropical downpour. We haplessly looked on hoping the hail didn’t reach us as it would have undoubtedly reduced our potential crop to nothing more than a memory and not to mention damaging the new buds on the green shoots destined to be next years fruiting wood. That bud damage would also cause downstream damage for Vintages to come. Thankfully we just got the rain and were spared the hail, but we feel for anyone who was affected by it.
So with still at least 6-7 weeks till harvest, many factors remain to play out that will dictate the ultimate endgame. We’ll keep you posted with our progress!