Giant Steps may be a Yarra Valley icon, but it’s also been known to spread its wings before. This particular foray is into the hallowed pinot noir territory of Tasmania, with an expression from the Coal River Valley that is redolent with ripe wild berries and violets dusted with baking spices that front a palate of silky plushness and sneakily assertive tannins.
From the Coal River Valley in Tasmania’s south, this is Giant Steps’ incursion into new Pinot territory, for them at least. The Nocton Vineyard was planted in 1999, and while it is decidedly cool climate territory, the abundant sunshine always allows for a full fruit expression, which is what is on display here with both red and black fruits, violets, brown cardamom, vanilla and five spice. The palate is equally expressive, with an almost lush feel, silky and supple but corralled by fine but assertively focused tannins, with pithy plum skin grip. This is an interesting contrast to their Yarra offerings, which lean more on red fruits and finer profiles.
Themes of this wine
Pinot noir is one of the wine world’s most revered grapes. Notoriously fickle to grow and make, it makes what many see as the pinnacle of red wine in France’s Burgundy, but it’s also found many happy homes around the world, and none more so than in Australia across our cooler viticultural regions.
Tasmania is the only state that is also a wine region, one rather vast region, and, naturally, only a fraction of it is under vine. In truth, Tasmania can be more helpfully divided into its seven subregions, with three in the north around and either side of Launceston, the fourth stretching down the length of the east coast, and with the last three clustered around the southern centres of Richmond, Hobart and Cygnet. Tasmania’s wine industry may have been founded on Bordeaux varieties, but it has been the grapes of Burgundy that have emerged triumphant, and by quite a margin. Towering over all is pinot noir, with chardonnay easily the next most planted variety, with it comfortably filling more sparkling bottles than pinot noir does. Aromatic white grapes complete the general picture, with riesling, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris all well represented.