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The vineyard is acknowledged as the greatest influence on wine quality and it's here that most of the work and thought are focused.  The desire to be connected to the whole process of growing wines drives the decision to be a single vineyard producer. The first vines were planted in 1991 but problems with clonal identification and quality of planting material resulted in these vines being removed.  The hard work of planting was repeated in 1992. Subsequent plantings (1993 to 2000) have seen the vineyard grow to 14 hectares (33 acres). The majority of the area is planted to Pinot Noir (69%), with Chardonnay (26%), and a small area of Pinot Gris (5%).


Multiple clones are used - for Pinot Noir they are 114, 115, MV6 and some Mariafeld and D5V12 - while for Chardonnay they are P58, I10V1, I10V3 & I10V5.  This clonal spread adds some complexity to each variety.


The trellis is horizontally divided - mostly the Lyre trellis system but with some Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) - both use two walls of foliage resulting in a greater surface area for sunlight interception and heat penetration, increased airflow, less crowding within the canopy and lower disease pressure.


The above photo is a profile of the Lyre Trellis divided canopy. The double wall of foliage & the space between increases sunlight pick up , UV penetration & airflow through the canopy. This combination naturally reduces disease, maintains vine health &  maximises fruit quality.


Our farming practices started along the sustainable agricultural model, and we're moving further down that road by firstly ceasing to use herbicides (6 years ago now) and have seen a marked improvement in the soil micro fauna and the resulting increase in organic matter is staggering and bodes well for a healthy future for our vines.

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Whilst the winery can impart influence through oak and yeast selection, whole cluster inclusion, ferment temperature control and the like - these factors, are obviously important, they are never allows to overshadow the product of the vineyard. We see the winemaking role as one of custodian of the vineyard bounty.  We seek to express the footprint of the vineyard rather than the thumbprint of the winemaking.  The wines are grown to be expressive of variety and to resonate with a sense of place and time.


Unlike most of Australia, our cool climate produces fruit of innately high natural acidity and intense, yet elegant structure; hence there is little need for us to meddle with what the vineyard delivers. In 2002 we constructed a multi-level winery, with a sub-ground barrel hall, to process the fruit using gravity and provide low ambient temperatures.  This minimises the mechanical interferences and temperature variability.  Since 2002 all fruit processing and winemaking, including bottling, occurs on site.


Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are process in multiple lots; keeping each block, clonal lot, and winery treatment separate. After one year in oak, every barrel is assessed to separate out those barrels that are not up to the stringent bench-marks set for Curly Flat labelled wines.  These declassified barrels (provided they are deemed of a suitable quality) are directed to our 'junior' label - Williams Crossing.  These 'junior' label wines represent outstanding value at their price points.


Our main approach for Chardonnay is gentle whole bunch pressing and barrel fermentation - but a small portion may be crushed and a minor portion is partially tank fermented.  The tank ferments are further separated with some transferred to oak (to finish ferment) and some kept in tank.  The use of some tank ferment allows us to see the wine ine different shades - giving us a better understanding of pure fruit expression as well as oak impression.  While a number of yeasts are used, most of the ferments are natural; natural yeast fermentation for Chardonnay were introduced in 2005.  This provides one of the buidling blocks for the the wine development, leading to improved texture and a more varietal flavour profile.  The level of malolactic ferment is a vintage by vintage decision, and is based on trial work.  Before bottling, blending trials determine the final assemblage.


Pinot Noir processing is focussed on small separate lots - up to 33 lots, with fermenter sizes ranging from 1,000L to 5,000L.  Each lot varies in proportion of whole cluster, whole berry and, occasionally, crushed fruit.  Like most of the variables in our winery, these proportions vary vintage to vintage.  We use a percentage of whole clusters to enhance a range of characters; primary fruit lift, mouth feel, tannin structure, persistence/palate length and colour stability.  However we have found Mariafeld and D5V12 usually have inherent characters not suitable for whole cluster inclusion.  Since 2003 the main yeasts are natural (ambient) which produce lower alcohol, lower VA, lower pH and improved mouth feel.


The oak handling for noth Chardonnay and Pinot Noir involves a variety of coopers (all French), forests and toast levels to deliver further expressions of fruit and provide a greater range of blending options.

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Wine Moments

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 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Curly Flat . In a tasting of  33 wines 

De Bortoli ‘Riorret’ ‘Lusatia Park’ Pinot Noir 2016 / This exciting Yarra Valley vineyard does Pinot Noir as well as it does Chardonnay, perhaps even more so. This is a cracker. Plums, earth, slightly sappy notes with some animal skin complexity. Licorice and dark fruits. Satiny tannins and excellent length. This is no simple Pinot; this is seriously good. Should age well for a decade or more. 

Score: 95/100

16d 1h ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Curly Flat . In a tasting of  45 wines 

“My results from the Fine 'Best of Australia' competition (still to add the William Downie Pinot to the system). A fascinating event and huge thanks to Pekka for instigating it. Look for the full story in a forthcooming isssue of the magazine.”

4y 1m ago

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