2018 Pinot Noir, Curly Flat
£380 per 12 bottle case in bond
2018 Chardonnay, Curly Flat
£360 per 12 bottle case in bond
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.