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30 Years On – a reflection on what defines Giaconda

Who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks? 30 years on I am still learning in the vineyard and winery; the last six being the most prolific, more so than the previous twenty-four.

From the outset I determined to follow my intuition: to craft wines that reflect this tiny and unique site near Beechworth and show my passion for wine styles that are cutting edge in an international context. Giaconda was never going to be a trend follower nor an imitation of others who have come before. Giaconda is the style. It has not always been a comfortable ride. My perseverance and determination to stay true to my vision, and not become seduced by the glamour and noise of “wine entertainment” has ensured Giaconda remains innovative, at the cutting edge of premium wine production, and above all, relevant to our ultimate critics, the consumers. I have always preferred to let my wines do the talking!

Embracing change is essential to any business if it wishes to grow and flourish. This is also true for premium wine production. Here the challenges come in the form of: climate issues, shifts in consumer preference, economic issues aboard and at home and the rise of new, equally determined producers with a vision and a story to tell.

Giaconda is its own style; it has relevance because it resonates with people who understand and appreciate a commitment to maintaining a style that is consistent. The integrity of Giaconda is based on a steadfast determination to fine tune, to improve but never to jump ship and follow the latest fashion thought bubble that has for example beleaguered Chardonnay of late.

My guiding principle has been to question everything we do: vineyard practices, replanting and removing vines (saying farewell to the Estate Cabernet), updating wine production and processing equipment and of course, where and how we mature the wines. Our cave has been central to our wine ethos that maturing wine slowly and gracefully in an all year round cool environment will only enhance quality.

It has taken me 30 years to arrive at a point where I can confidently say we are now well placed to handle the vagaries that nature throws at us. There is no denying that climatic conditions have been extremely challenging since 2000 with many earlier vintages. The change and innovation I have referred to has enabled me to cope with these climate hurdles and in many cases turn them to an advantage.

Let me explain. We seem to experience of late much warmer springs but little, or no more, intensity of heat during mid-summer. Warmer springs advance the growing season but the actual length of growing time remains much the same. Not picking the fruit too ripe, or too late, has ensured the grapes are in beautiful condition with perfect acidity. This has enabled me to produce an unheralded run of powerful, complex Chardonnays from 2010 all at slightly reduced baumes.


This dog might be older, but I am still barking and there are more tricks to earn.

So to the wines. There is no 2014 Pinot Noir nor 2014 Warner Shiraz this release. Both fell victim to the spring frosts. Subsequently the fruit we picked did not reach a standard that befits Giaconda single vineyard wines. Smaller amounts were made of both these wines and will be released under our Nantua Les Deux label at a later stage. Watch this space for details!

On the point above, our Chardonnay quantity (but not quality) was also reduced due to frost on the lower parts of the vineyard. However this wine has been the real surprise of the 2014 vintage – at the pinnacle in terms of quality – amongst our very best with stunning power and complexity. This wine will sell out very quickly due to the reduced yields so don't miss out.

The 2014 Estate Shiraz avoided the frosts, perched near the top of the slope. It was an ideal season for the Shiraz and resulted in a wine of startling quality, possibly the best to date. Here the tweaking of vinification methods with a slight adjustment in the origin of the forests that we use from our Sirugue barrels has added further stature to this wine. What I am finding now is the inherent beauty that can be achieved with Shiraz. No longer is it just the domain of Pinot Noir to be ethereal.

The first vintage of our Red Hill Nebbiolo vineyard is in barrel. This wine from the 2015 vintage shows extraordinary varietal character – good colour, a perfume of spice, rose petal, emerging notes of tar and beautiful interplay between tannin, fruit and acid. There was not enough to fill our 1600 litre Italian Botti, so it rests in older 228 litre barrels in the cave. Nebbiolo is renowned for being shy and reserved in its youth. Patience is essential. My feeling is that Red Hill will be a natural home for the production of quintessential Nebbiolo. It will be fascinating to follow its development.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for your encouragement and support for Giaconda over the past 30 years. I am truly grateful to all of you who have deemed my wines worthy of your patronage.

Richard Kinzbrunner

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Giaconda vineyard was established by Rick Kinzbrunner, a mechanical engineer who became interested in wine in the early 1970's. Rick then spent the next ten years working in the industry, travelling and following his passion for wine. After a brief stint in New Zealand, he studied at Davis University in California and worked at some of the most respected wineries in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys (namely Stag's Leap, Simi and Matanzas Creek). In Europe he worked for the Moueix group in Bordeaux, co-owner of the fabled Chateau Petrus.


After returning to Australia in 1980 to take up a position as assistant winemaker at Brown Brothers in Milawa, Rick purchased land in the nearby Beechworth wine region - at the foothills of the beautiful North-East Victorian Alps. Planting commenced in 1982 and the property is now devoted solely to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. A separate planting of Nebbiolo has also been established close to the Beechworth township at Red Hill. Total area under vines at the Giaconda Estate Vineyard is now 4 hectares. Annual wine production is approximately 2,500 dozen bottles.

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At an altitude of 400+ metres (1,312 feet) the site and climate are influenced by the surrounding alpine valleys. The Chardonnay is planted on a relatively cool south-facing slope which is sheltered from the direct impact of the sun's rays. This results in a much slower ripening period, greater flavour complexity and natural acid levels. The Estate lies in a small valley which benefits from a light breeze much of the time; this is very effective in controlling disease.


The soil is 450 million year old granitic loam over decomposed gravel and clay. The clay is important in allowing sustained water-release to the vine roots; while the soil, being not too rich, is ideal for wine quality - lower yields are naturally regulated. The vines are drip irrigated in hotter years only when it is necessary to prevent vine stress.


The average rainfall is 800 mm annually, a little of which can be received during summer. Nights are generally cool with days being fairly warm, providing ideal conditions for slow ripening. Vintage begins in late February or early March, depending on the season. All grapes are hand-picked in the cool of the early morning before being processing at the winery on site. Cropping levels are approximately 2.5 tonnes per acre.

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Wine Moments

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 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Giaconda Vineyard . In a tasting of  10 wines 

MY TOP 10 WINES OF THE 2016 / The difficulty for such a list is not finding ten wines; it is narrowing it down to ten.

What criteria should be used? Wines that gave the most pleasure? Highest scoring wines? Most interesting? A wine like the new Jim Barry Assyrtiko from the Clare Valley, for example. Thoroughly enjoyable but hardly going to knock the greatest in the world off their perches, but it is the first Assyrtiko made in Australia and shows what promise the variety has here. I'd have no problem including it. What of the 2001 Yquem? Every time I see it, I can’t help but fall under its spell. From the most thrilling young Yquem to an immaculate teenager, but it probably gets boring including it every time/every year. Also, I doubt that there is any serious winelover who does not know of its glories, so to include it does little. Some of the most exciting wines I saw this year were in barrel in Jerez and surrounds. But again, including them hardly helps anyone. Not as though they are being sold by the barrel.

Pekka’s extraordinary tasting in Helsinki – the Time Machine tasting and the great champagnes of the 1990s – could have filled all ten spots, such was the array of mindblowing wines. That seems unfair, so I limited myself to just one wine from any one occasion. And then I have tried for a spread of styles and countries, some old and some new.

And if you asked me to do this list tomorrow, I might well have ten different wines. However, in no particular order, here goes…

8m 21d ago

 Giaconda Vineyard  has news

30 Years On – a reflection on what defines Giaconda Who says you cannot teach an old dog ne  more ...

10m 20d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Giaconda Vineyard . In a tasting of  6 wines 

2010 Parker Coonnawarra Estate First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon, Connawarra

Dark ripe Cabernet nose with leather, plum, mint, strawberry jam. Beautifully textured on palate with juicy sweet fruit, velvety tannins, a certain note of drier fruit like prunes and some woody notes. Classical and aristocratic texture with great complexity and length. Warm, ripe and big, but very finely balanced and precise with a great varietal expression. 95p

10m 23d ago

 Marie Ahm, Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Giaconda Vineyard . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Australia’s 19th Century Legacy-tasting with Andrew Caillard MW”

1y 1m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Giaconda Vineyard . In a tasting of  22 wines 

“Penfolds Bin 7 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz 1967 - Fine-looking bottle. Level was by the neck. Decanted one hour. Good, healthy dark colour. Gorgeous nose: delicate, fat and sweet. Fabulous strong Cabernet-grip on the palate, with super-ripe cassis, lots of spices, coffee and cedar pushing through. Ripe and rich. The follow-through is soft and elegant with sweet, ripe tannins and enough acidity. Peaking now and will no longer improve.”

1y 2m ago

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