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2018 Curly Flat Pinot Noir and Chardonnay : Two of the very best yet

March 2021

2018 Pinot Noir, Curly Flat

£380 per 12 bottle case in bond

2018 Chardonnay, Curly Flat

£360 per 12 bottle case in bond

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Curly flat

I am pleased to say that many of our clients have acknowledged the quality of the wines produced at Curly Flat over the years and that this has resulted in an avid following for their exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. That said, I think even bona fide fans might be surprised by the quality of the 2018s!
 
I was introduced to this estate by a great friend many years ago and, as I have previously commented, it took me eight years to extract an allocation from him as UK agent. I am pleased to say his response times have improved, just…! When I first tasted, it was clear that the wines had a rare precision and purity, largely imparted by the vineyard location and its climate. Curly Flat is one of the pioneers of cool-climate viticulture in Australia – respected wine critic, James Halliday, once commented that for Macedon, ‘Site selection, the careful matching of site and grape variety, razor sharp canopy management, and relatively low yields are all prerequisites for success’. I think this is key to Curly’s success – they tick all these boxes. The Macedon Ranges is one of the coolest wine-growing regions on the Australian mainland. Altitude plays the pivotal role in determining just how cool the exact site is. It is worth noting that Mount Macedon is a little over 1000 metres high – consequently, the vineyards of Curly Flat lie between 400 and 700 metres, and it takes attentive viticulture to deliver this quality with such unerring regularity. The area of Macedon is characterised by a number of small estates and it is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that dominate production. Both of these varieties are able to gain a rare elegance of expression, ripe but never overblown and underscored by fine natural acidities.  
 
Over years, things evolve and, with the departure of former joint owner and winemaker Phillip Moraghan a few years ago, the now sole owner of the estate, Jenifer Kolkka, took the step of bringing in Matt Harrop as winemaker. Despite being a Kiwi, Matt had previously worked for several other Australian estates and, having always been intrigued by fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, he jumped at the chance to work at Curly Flat and to understand its unique terroir. Oddly enough, Matt’s brother, another talented winemaker, was on the Masters of Wine course with me way back when. What has impressed me so much is that Matt has gently looked to refine the approach at Curly – this is very much a question of evolution not revolution and Jenny wanted to retain the style and reputation of the estate. Replacing a talented winemaker and picking up the reins with no perceptible change in quality or style is no mean feat, but to elevate the quality and refine the style without losing the context is something different altogether. To my mind, Matt hasn’t just produced one wine that would rank with the very best this estate has produced since it was established in 1989, he has produced two in only his fourth vintage. These two wines are simply spectacular.
 
Please see below my notes on the two 2018s as well as those from Nick Stock on James Suckling’s website.


2018 Pinot Noir, Curly Flat
£380 per 12 bottle case in bond

Aged for 20 months in French oak barriques of which 32% was new oak.

Bright in the glass, with inviting aromas of scented cherry, a subtle creamy nuance and notes of spice. This is such a wonderfully pure Pinot and suggests steeped red berry fruits on the palate, with a creamy, silky textural impression. Precise, lively and strikingly pure, with the merest hint of background toast, I cannot recall being as impressed in any other vintage. It has a sneaky sense of concentration that doesn’t take away from the scented, almost ethereal Burgundian character of this complex example. The melange of black and red fruits and finely ripe tannins signal an outstanding vintage here. Long, pure and refined with a juicy persistence – not to be missed and certainly among the best I have tasted here. Drink 2024 to 2035 (SL)


97 points, Nick Stock on jamessuckling.com
This is a watershed for this producer with such well-assembled complexity, well-guarded purity and the kind of bright, vibrant tannin that is rarely seen outside Burgundy. Intense aromas of blood orange, pomegranate, red cherry, boldly spicy oak and a sapid, reductive edge. Lot of energy here. The palate has rich red and dark-cherry flavor with crisply defined tannins that carry long and refreshed into the finish with assertive acidity. Crunchy red-fruit finish. Give this a little more time to settle. Try from 2023

 


2018-Curly-Flat-Pinot-Noir - Copy


2018 Chardonnay, Curly Flat
£360 per 12 bottle case in bond 

Aged for 14 months in French oak barriques of which 20% was new oak.

Pale, green/gold in the glass, the 2018 Chardonnay reveals zesty, juicy, grilled grapefruit and citrus on the nose, with subtle background notes of lees and toast. Such a beautiful, mouth-watering style with golden grapefruit, guava and nectarine even. This hints at tropical fruits yet retains a zesty citrus focus. This captures a great sense of energy and tension. So pure, lively with a mineral, chalky nuance – it will be fascinating to see how this absolute classic ages. Anyone who doubts just how highly Curly Flat ranks among Australian Chardonnay simply has to taste this vintage. It captures a poise and complexity of which only a handful of Australian Chardonnay are capable. A remarkable wine with a cool-climate profile but no austerity. Long, lingering and positive to the last. Best ever from here? Probably as this is outstanding. Drink 2023 to 2032 (SL)


96 points, Nick Stock on jamessuckling.com

Complex, yet pure, this is full of peach, lemon, brioche pastry, fresh new oak and green mango. The palate has richness and a seamless arc of fruit flesh that is nailed into place with mouth-watering acidity. Carries the oak effortlessly on the palate. Impressive and so resolved, this is their best chardonnay to date. Drink or hold.
 

2018-Curly-Flat-Chardonnay - Copy

One last point – in an era when we are seeing rising alcohol levels in Burgundy on account of hotter, drier summers, it is worth noting that both the Curly Flat 2018s come in well under 14 degrees. The Pinot Noir is 13.7% and the Chardonnay just 13.3% ABV.
 
Please let us know of your interest.
 
All the best,
 
Simon


 
All the best,
 
Simon


To request a wine, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Atlas team. We can be reached on +44 (0) 20 3017 2299, info@atlasfinewines.com or by submitting the form below. Please note that stock may be limited and is always sold on a 'first come, first serve' basis. 

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Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. 

4-5 Castle Court  
London EC3V 9DL
T: +44 (0) 20 3017 2299
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