Chris Shanahan on our 2011 Williams Crossing releases…

Williams Crossing by Curly Flat Macedon Chardonnay 2011 $24

WC1 lay down

“Curly Flat makes some of Australia’s most exciting, complex chardonnays. The second label, Williams Crossing, comprises material declassified from the Curly Flat label. But even these “offcuts” have been completely barrel fermented and matured, with all the hands-on winemaking attention of its more expensive cellar mate. That means one of the best value chardonnays on the market. In the cool 2011 vintage it’s perhaps a little leaner and tighter than usual with attractive grapefruit and melon varietal flavours woven through the rich barrel-derived texture. At two years’ age it’s brilliantly young and fresh, suggesting further evolution in bottle.”  

For our own tasting note please click here.

Williams Crossing by Curly Flat Macedon Pinot Noir 2011 $25

WXp11 lay down

“Curly Flat’s second label, Williams Crossing, is lighter bodied and paler coloured, but that was to be expected in such a cold vintage. Despite its comparative lightness, the 2011 delivers concentrated, definitive pinot flavour with a backbone of firm, fine tannins.”

For our tasting note please click here.

Courtesy of Chris Shanahan  Australian wine & beer judge, writer and connoisseur

15 Year Vertical Tasting – Part II

Back in November of last year, you may recall we posted about the 15 year vertical tasting of all vintages of Curly Flat Pinot Noir and Chardonnay dating back to our first vintage in 1998.  If you wish to know more about that initial tasting, please click here.

For the first vertical we were joined by several prominent wine writers, but with pace of the world, let alone the world of wine, it is almost impossible to organise an event like this where the timing works for everybody.

Our response to this was to host another tasting, this time in Sydney.  Here we utilised the professional tasting room of the wine man himself, Peter Bourne.  Peter’s tasting room provided us with a setting where great light and no distractions could avail, allowing for the wines to take centre stage.


From left to right: Phillip Moraghan (CF Vigneron), Wine Writers; Huon Hooke and Angus Hughson.

For this second tasting we were thankful to be joined by wine writers Huon Hooke, Angus Hughson, Peter Bourne, Rob Geddes MW and Stuart Halliday (Tetsuya’s Manager & Sommelier).  To give the wines a voice, Curly Flat co-owners Phillip Moraghan & Jenifer Kolkka were on hand with insights and anecdotes that have been gathered over each of these 15 vintages.


From left to right: Wine Writers; Peter Bourne, Rob Geddes MW & Stuart Halliday.

From our last tasting we learnt that outside obvious TCA taint, there was marked variation throughout the wines under this closure, which these days could surprise only the few (well at least in Australian circles).  But in the time since that first tasting, we discovered something quite pleasing. Going back to the first vertical last year, to our surprise, it seemed that the 2003 CF Chardonnay was over the hill.  We opened 4 bottles that day with each to be met with the same dull, flat experience. This was not in line with the other vintages as even the older vintages CF Chardonnays still had a pulse of acid, so that got us thinking something wasn’t right. We decided to try a magnum of the same vintage, and we were absolutely blown away.  This is the wine we remember!

This cause of this anomaly falls (again) on the shoulders of the justifiable whipping boy that is cork.  Within our 750 ml museum stock of this vintage there must be a whole batch of bad corks, explaining the alarming strike rate.  Saying that though, all of our magnums are under cork, but that too eventually, will be changed over to screw cap.  We are looking at moving towards screw cap magnums in the near future, probably starting with our 2012 CF Chardonnay which will be bottled around October.

On the whole we were happy to say we had a pretty good run on the wines under cork, with only a few (still unacceptable!) victims of soul sapping cork taint and random oxidation.  But that’s enough cork bashing for now!

The wines themselves were in fine form, as each wine has the stamp of its season also the evolution of its handling is clearly on display, with the more recent vintages showing more assuredly in terms of structure and complexity but without the suggestion of overplaying the subtlety that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are synonymous with.   This is brought about not only our continual improvement program, but of course the vines are also getting older.  But there’s still a long way to go…


The inaugural 1998 vintages of Curly Flat Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; still standing up after 15 years…

We took notes for all the wines tasted at both events, so we’ll get them up on our website/blog in a meaningful context for those wanting a guide of how our wines are currently looking and what the drinking future holds for them.  In the meantime here are some of Phillips notes on our wines from the 1998 vintage, tasted last Thursday (14/2/13).

1998 Curly Flat Chardonnay:Mid gold, clear; generous with white stonefruit, cashews, mealy; viscous, moderate acid, good fruit and texture, lots here, nutty; medium plus finish.”  

1998 Curly Flat Pinot Noir: “Deep ruby, tanning at the edges, clear; generous lifted nose with spearmint with underlying dark fruits; still fresh & alive, mocha dusty oak; medium plus weight with viscous, lightly textured, good acid, lively and long. 

In relative conclusion, with any meaningful review, more questions are asked than answered, but we have learnt several things none the less.  Such as less extraction in Pinot Noir, can mean more in the glass.  This is found in our 2010 Pinot Noir, where we no longer use enzymes and employ a gentler cap management whilst in ferment.  We can go on, but maybe its best to make the visit out to Curly Flat where can explain the myriad of elements in context!

What we have learnt is that the journey will never end, as the term perfect is really a metaphoric castle within a kingdom of fools, these tastings announce the quality of our site, its soils and the vines that grow older and wiser within it…   Hopefully we do too.

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!

Warm days and cool nights, the best of both worlds…

With Spring well and truly in the air, we now have both warm days and cool nights, giving us the best of both worlds.  Whether it be a finely structured Pinot Noir served with Spring lamb, a zesty, complex Chardonnay with fresh caught seafood or a refreshing yet structured Rosé served with Antipasto, either way all bases are covered as the sun continues on towards its summer zenith.

Below are reviews for our current release Pinot Noir & Chardonnays from James Halliday and The Wine Front as well as a review on the 2011 Curly Flat Rose from Tyson Stelzer. All wines are currently available on our new website.


Tasted 1/3/12.  Review by Ben Edwards (James Halliday Wine Companion 2013)

Bright mid-garnet; a heady and hedonistic array of red and black fruits, Asian spices and subtle floral notes blend together on the bouquet; the palate is silky, deeply textured and layered, with a tightly wound core of super fresh fruit and mouth watering acidity; long, silky and beautifully detailed, this will reward careful cellaring, but will be hard to leave alone.

Rated: 96 Points Alcohol: 13.9% Price: $48 (Direct) Closure: WAK S/Cap Drink by: 2020


Posted 19 September 2012 – Reviewed by James Halliday

Picked 4 May ’11, unoaked but lees contact for nine months; part wild, part inoculated fermentation, mlf occurring naturally. Bright straw-green; throwing all the focus on the fruit has worked very well, for the palate is full of flavour spanning nectarine, white peach and grapefruit, with a slightly creamy note ex mlf and lees contact.

Rated: 94 Points  Alcohol:  13.0%  Price: $36 (Direct)  Closure: S/Cap  Drink by: 2018


Posted on 24 May 2012.  Reviewed by Campbell Mattinson 

A key chardonnay release from Curly Flat. Mostly wild yeast fermented. 100 percent goes through malolactic fermentation. 1515 dozen bottled.

An excellent show of power, persistence and overall finesse. A top-notch wine with complexity in spades. Needs time to integrate properly but the way this lingers in the mouth is an experience to behold. Grapefruit, sweet preserved lemons, oatmeal and creamy, toasty oak. The finish is smoky, minerally, cheesy. Love the way it combines fruit power and funk, oomph and finesse. A prime contender for Best Curly Flat Chardonnay yet.

Rated: 95 Points  Alcohol: 13.6%  Price: $42 (Direct)  Closure: S/Cap  Drink : 2014-2020


Posted on 19 September 2012.  Reviewed by Campbell Mattinson 

There’s no shortage of good and good value Australian chardonnay around but Curly Flat’s Williams Crossing label is still a pretty good price/value proposition. If you want to drink good Macedon gear, there aren’t a lot of options at this price level.

It’s a full, flavoursome, slightly oaky/nutty/buttery style but it’s all lime/nectarine-like fruit on the finish, and the way a wine finishes is always the ultimate arbiter. This is good drinking. Chardonnay to its back teeth and generous from go to whoa.

Rated: 90 Points  Alcohol: 13.3%  Price: $22 (Direct)  Closure: S/Cap  Drink: 2012-2015

CURLY FLAT 2011 ROSÉ –  Reviewed by Tyson Stelzer 

Phillip Moraghan visited this week and pulled one of the most exciting rosés of the season out of his bag. Made in tiny quantities by hand and foot (yes, foot stomped), this is an unusually pale and gorgeously fragrant rosé with restrained wisps of pink pepper, pomegranate and rose petals. The palate is all about texture, consummately refined and elegant, with perfectly handled phenolics, stalks and lees texture uniting to create a silky mouthfeel. Available direct from the winery.

Rated: 95 Points  Alcohol: 12.5%  Price: $26 (Direct)  Closure: S/Cap  Drink: 2012-2013


Rob Geddes MW on Curly Flat Chardonnay

Here’s Rob Geddes MW talking about the 2008 & 2010 Curly Flat Chardonnay, check out or subscribe to his series of vlogs on his website:

Our 2008 Chardonnay is sold out and the 2010 Chardonnay will be released in a few months.  In meantime enjoy our current release 2009 Chardonnay, while stocks last…


A taste of the year to come!

Happy new year to all, thanks for reading our blog and happy drinking for 2012!

This coming February will see the release of our 2009 Curly Flat Pinot Noir and we’re happy to say that this, the last release of the 2009 vintage, is one of our finest to date. Thankfully it’s not just us saying that! Below is an excerpt from Winewise Magazine, a publication established in 1985 and ever since has been driven by a scrupulous array of wine experts led by Lester Jesberg, the magazines editor. This year saw the judges ‘pour’ over 2000 wines from across Australia and abroad in a blind tasting where wines are presented in glass and nothing is known of them outside of variety, which results in telling it like it is.

2009 Curly Flat Pinot Noir Winewise Review                           Verdict: Outstanding

The nose shows rich raspberry fruit complemented by a hint of stems that add a touch of complexity. The palate has power but also finesse, finishing long, and balanced by firm, fine tannins. This pinot was made with a masterly touch.

Also all Australian wines that obtained the rating of ‘outstanding’ (their highest rating) went onto to an even more stringent tasting to find their ‘best of the best’ for 2011. From there only nine wines made that ultimate list and we’re happy to say that our 2009 Pinot Noir is on it!