15 Year Vertical Tasting at Curly Flat

Last Wednesday (28/11) at Curly Flat, some of the finest wine minds in Australia, joined us for a vertical tasting of all 15 vintages of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, spanning from our flagship 1998 vintage up to barrel samples of our still maturing 2012 vintage.  The wines produced so far reflect the great promise of our site, but we know we still have much to learn about its nature.  Unlocking our site true character, will take time.  For this there is no substitute, and it will undoubtedly take generations to truly uncover.  So to get the most insight out of this tasting, it made sense to invite an array of wine critics to join us in thoughtful examination of the first 15 vintages from Curly Flat Vineyard.  Below is the list of attendees in order of seating (clockwise):      

  • James Halliday
  • Ralph Kyte-Powell
  • Ken Gargett
  • Ben Thomas
  • Robert Paul
  • Jeni Port
  • Nick Bullied MW
  • Lester Jesburg

It was also great to show our guests first hand both our vineyard, and relay the passion in achieving our ultimate goal of unlocking its true voice in the wines resulting from it.      What our guests will ultimately make of there experience, and our direction, is for their consideration.  We are appreciative of them being there, as well as for the time they took out to come and visit us.

For us personally, the review of these 15 vintages had it revelations, along with some affirmations. Such as how screw cap, in our eyes at least, as a unrivaled contributor of towards uniformity of product whilst also allowing for development with longer term aging.

We used high quality natural cork in all vintages spanning from 1998 to 2002, partial screw cap was first introduced in 2003 Pinot Noir and the 2004 Chardonnay, (also trialing the composite Diam in the 04, 05, 06 Pinots) but in 2007 we became 100% screw cap, and this review seems to vindicate that maneuver. Under review in the tasting, the variation in wines under cork was considerable, especially in Chardonnay, but the bottles that were on song, truly sung.  Especially the 2002 Chardonnay, which has been identified as exceptional vintage for some time now, is still developing beautifully and in a most Burgundian fashion.

Variation from closure (although lesser) was found in the Pinot Noir, and the earlier bottles (98/99) were interesting as they were monoclonal, made entirely of MV6, a dark fruited, yet savoury clone of Pinot Noir, and the 1998 was 100% new oak! The 1998, made from a warm year, still had fruit power (blackcurrant) as well as a noticeable pulse of acid, which in itself was deeply satisfying.  The 2004 vintage was first vintage made with all vineyard blocks in production, and you can see the paradigm shift in complexity.  Over the next couple of weeks we will write up tasting notes, derived from this tasting, of the older vintages letting you know our impressions and more importantly their potential drinking windows.  Once written they will then be put up on our website Vintage Guide.

In summation we were delighted to see that the road, 15 years long, is one built of driving natural acidity.  Vine age is also starting to show its hand, especially in our current release 2010 vintage, as it achieves complexity and power, but through grace and subtlety rather than sheer force of fruit.  Also the slow ripening properties of our site were on display, as ripe fruit slowly fleshed itself out around the bones of that natural acidity. Most importantly the individual conditions of each year were also to be found in the glass.  That is also part of our job, to translate not only the site, but also the season into bottle.  Whilst there is a definite familial CF thread running through each vintage, also on display was how each wine has its own unique character, infused by the unique growing conditions of that year.

There are many obvious elements that make up a great wine, the site and it’s soils, the suitability of the varieties grown there,  the nature of the seasons and our willingness to learn from them.  The only map for our destination, is one made of patience, diligence and respect for the hand of nature, as it is the one and only winemaker.  We certainly look forward to the next 15 years of vine age and getting to explore out sites potential even further, and we hope you enjoy that journey too!