2011 ‘The Curly’ Pinot Noir – Chene De Beaux Monts Barrels

For the 2011 vintage we we’re given a special opportunity to acquire barrels all sourced from one 400 year old French oak tree from the forests of Northern France.  Sadly, the tree had to be felled for structural reasons after some particularly bad weather, so at least it was being put to good use. Needless to say we jumped at this rare opportunity and employed these barrels to make one special wine; The Curly 2011 Pinot Noir.  The barrels even have their own name; Chene De Beaux Monts, which translates into ‘Wood of the Beautiful Mountains’, and beautiful oak it is.

barrel head chene

The cooler vintage of 2011 provided a unique expression of our site, and in regards to our Pinot Noir it allowed for an elegant, floral yet subtlety substantial wine with great persistence and length.  The barrels themselves do not overplay the fruit, but enhance it with a gliding raft of savoury tannin and enhancing the innate spicy floral character of the 2011 vintage.This is our ideal in terms of the role of oak at Curly Flat, to accentuate the unique character of our vineyard.

Here is a video of the very 400 year old tree at various stages after felling, from being measured out, sawn into large sections, and ultimately the staves themselves being crafted.

From there we always like to remind people The Curly” is not a reserve wine, rather it is a particular batch that is different to the main blend. The first “The Curly” Pinot was the 2010 (97 points from Halliday) which was 100% whole bunch and 100% new oak. The 2011 continues the theme of 100% new oak but it is very special oak. What is also unique about this 400 year old oak is the tightness of its grain. The tighter the grain the more subtle and integrated the oak influence, and for us, and certainly in terms of “The Curly”, less is more.  For our full tasting note please visit our website: http://www.curlyflat.com/wines/2011-the-curly-pinot-noir

11 Curly Pinot

Scores/Reviews for 2011 ‘The Curly’ Pinot Noir

95 PointsDrink to 2020  James Halliday 2015 Australian Wine Companion

93 Points –  Campbell Mattinson The Wine Front (review below)

“The toughest of years has produced a beautiful drink.  It’s light in colour but high on fragrance. It smells pretty much tremendous. Fistfuls of spice, autumn leaves, fresh cherries, wood. It tastes similarly, all washy and juicy and strung intricately together, a band on the run, in synch, in tune, on song. Spice, savouriness, leafiness; all are the spirit of the day. But there’s some sweetness too to the fruit, and it plays well. Not deep, not profound; uplifting.” Drink to 2019+

 Chene De Beaux Montage

Beaux Monts 5 1Sylvabois Beaux Monts juin 2006 001 2Sylvabois Beaux Monts juin 2006 002 3Beaux Monts 2 Beaux Monts 4 Sylvabois Beaux Monts juin 2006 016

Exciting times and an anxious wait….

This week has seen the first of our picking for Vintage 2014.  It has started off small, firstly a parcel of Chardonnay picked on Tuesday and then yesterday the first of our Pinot Noir. It has been a difficult year for all growers, some more than others.  After months of no real rainfall to speak of, we have now had approximately 19 mm over the last 24 hours, with an uncertain forecast for the coming week – we are ready and waiting!  Below are some images from the first Pinot pick.

early morning mist

Heavy fog rolled in…

drying grapes

Waiting for the fruit to dry…


Tipping into the destemmer

in tank

Safely in tank ready for ferment 🙂

Vintage 2013 in barrel, Vintage 2014 is underway…

Now that the dust from Vintage 2013 has settled, we can now look back.

This harvest was the most contracted, in terms of the time taken between our first and last pick, since full production began in 2004.  By full production we mean when each of our 7 blocks each began producing wine grapes simultaneously, which usually takes up to 4 years from initial planting.  This years narrow picking window was not unique to our vineyard, but for the majority of viticultural Australia.  Nonetheless, our crop was kept in balance with the seasons particular ebb and flow which ultimately delivered fruit to the winery at an optimal balance between sugar (alcohol potential) and natural acidity.   Now that all wine is settled in barrel (or tank) for maturation, we are now getting a glimpse of what is ahead in terms of potential.  Whilst the road that lays ahead of these wines remains long, early indications are promising.  The last element missing from the wine now, is time, and for the only thing for that is to wait!  But as our custodial role in the winery continues, albeit at a calmer pace compared to harvest, the same cannot be said for the vineyard.  Although the vines are now dormant, we enter one of our busiest times in the vineyard with pruning. Marking the beginning of Vintage 2014,  correct, balanced, pruning sets the vine up for the best possible start come bud burst in September, and also well into the growing season.  Balanced vine equals balanced wine!  Pruning started this year on May the 29th.  We’ll post more on pruning and its importance in the coming weeks.

But to wrap up this Vintage just passed, we would like give special mention to the vintage crew of 2013.  Come to our cellar door and we’ll invariably talk about what a great team we have, who work day in, day out, to especially high standards, which we feel, reflects in the wine. Come to think of it might be fair to say we equally bottle passion as we do wine (if there’s a difference!)  But each vintage, to varying degrees, we need a few helping hands and this year we had one of the most diverse, yet wonderfully integrated vintage crews since being in the business.  We mentioned diverse, as the crew came from all over the world, Phillip described it as being akin to the United Nations.  With one major difference though, everyone got along!  Thanks for being part of our excellent team, whether it was in the vineyard or winery, or both.  An outstanding vintage is only made possible by an outstanding team. Well done, Bravo, 勇敢な & braver!

“The United Nations” were comprised as follows:

  • Louis       (France)
  • Pam         (USA)
  • Florence  (France)
  • Blair         (AUS)
  • Serge      (Switzerland)
  • Ilaria         (Italy)
  • Nicola      (France)
  • Sarah      (Japan)
  • Daniel     (Italy)

From L to R: Lisa (CF), James (CF), Ilaria, Damien (CF), Sarah, Chris McK (CF) Lisa (CF Vineyard Manager), Nicola, Chris D (CF), Louis & Jenny (CF). At the front right is Daniel & Luke (CF). Thanks also go to the many hands that are not in this photo, too many to mention!



On the run again!

Click above to see a video of the bottling of our 2011 Curly Flat Chardonnay.

On the bottling run that is!  Last week we bottled our 2011 Curly Flat Chardonnay, a vintage that has not only produced some exciting wines, but also provided for our greatest challenge “yet” viticulturally speaking.  On this we are far from alone as the intense wet and humid conditions of 2011 affected all viticultural areas on the Australian east coast for that year.  Despite this adversity we feel we’ve made some of our best wines to date and it is a testament to our site and to the dedication of our vineyard crew, that we have to sometimes remind ourselves it was such a difficult vintage.

And as no vintage is truly complete until it’s safely in the bottle, we’ll always enjoy bottling for this reason.  This isn’t say the bottling run itself cannot be arduous or is in itself a blast, but when we consider the level of commitment and care through all stages of the resulting wines life, we ultimately bottle with a sense of deep satisfaction which is felt throughout the entire team.  Also it is our multi-skilled vineyard crew, who guided the fruit from the vineyard into the winery, who work the bottling line ensuring the same continuity of quality is upheld from vine to wine. Well done guys!

Next up we’ll be bottling the 2011 Curly Flat Pinot Noir early next year.  This won’t released until 2014, but it is already shaping up as a hauntingly beautiful, intensely fragrant and fine boned expression with great length and carry.  The 2011 Chardonnay will be released mid next year to allow for some bottle development.  For a preview of these wines, keep your eye out the 2011 Williams Crossing wines, as they’ll continue their trademark ‘crossing’ of where value intersects with true varietal expression.

Curly Flat and Williams Crossing…how do we decide?

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.

2010 Pinot Noir out of barrel…

After 20 months in barrel, the 2010 Curly Flat Pinot Noir now moves onto its next phase.  We have now transferred all barrels to tank via our peristaltic pump and the wine will now rest and await bottling early next year.  We do this not only to allow any residual lees to settle out, but it also gives the array of component barrels time to integrate as a whole whilst assisting the wine to acclimatise for closure under screw cap. Then the wine will then be released in early 2013 after a year in bottle.

The wine itself looks very promising so far with swirls of plums and sour cherry skins, resonating in both dark and bright notes with good acidity entwined in an earthen spice twist. Currently poised between subtlety and power, this wine will have plenty of time ahead to unfold itself.  We’re definitely looking forward to that!

New doors for the fours…

Although vintage is between three and four months away, it is ever present in our minds. In the meantime though we have plenty to keep us busy.  For instance we’ve modified our existing 4000 litre stainless steel tanks to have doors and racking valves.  This gives us further flexibility in or out of vintage when racking juice or wine to barrel.  An example of our continuous improvement program in effect!  Check out the short video in the winery section with Simon from Fine Weld cutting out the tank section for the door.