The wines of Curly Flat are, by now, well-known to many of our clients and I would like to think we have introduced these stunning wines to a number of clients who may have previously been dismissive of Australian Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
To me, Curly Flat is one of the pioneers of cool-climate viticulture in Australia – I first encountered these wines from Macedon in Victoria over 15 years ago and have never been disappointed by a vintage, even though they show differences in tune with the conditions that shape a given year. 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; it was never likely that the larger wine companies would move into the area, 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.
The 2017s from Curly have already won some strong endorsements. Having tasted them at home last week, I was keen to ask winemaker Matt Harrop about his thoughts on the vintage as they showed in an ultra-refined manner. Matt commented that for him it was ‘a year of moderates. Not a day over 40˚C, warm days extending into March coupled with cool nights giving us slow, steady, perfect, ripening conditions. This season without extremes allowed great balance, elegance and aromatics in our wines. Our 2017 wines show excellent concentration and the texture and tension to age gracefully for years’. He added that this was the coolest vintage they had witnessed at Curly Flat since 2011; they employed their usual strict selection, relegating a proportion of the wine to their second label to ensure the quality of the estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Fans of these wines are in for a treat; these are remarkably elegant examples with alcohol levels barely exceeding thirteen degrees. They should prove fascinating wines to follow over time, as while Curly Flat Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can comfortably be consumed shortly after shipment, they possess the capacity to age over a decade or beyond, courtesy of the inherent acidity.
Please see below for my full notes as well as a couple of additional notes for reference.
2017 Pinot Noir, Curly Flat
£380 per 12 bottle case in bond
Scented, violet notes and bright red berry fruit, wild strawberry and dark cherry on the nose. The same brightness is in evidence on the palate, soft summer berries and cranberry with notes of spice and a touch of background oak. There is a more savoury aspect to the palate than I have noted in some years, and this already shows fine complexity. The satiny texture of the tannins sell it, finely expressed with mineral nuances adding to the length of flavour. This finishes fragrant and lifted…a cooler climate profile than we have seen in a few vintages. Impressive. Drink 2022-2031 (SL)
96 points, James Halliday, Wine Companion
Entices immediately with heady aromas: all spiced cherries, pips, warm earth, autumnal leaves and borage. But the palate is the clincher. Glossy yet fine tannins, graceful, lithe and long. Lovely wine.
95 points, Tyson Stelzer Wine Business Monthly
I’ve long loved the cool purity of Curly Flat, and 2017 frames it in an especially graceful finesse. The purity of rose petal and red cherry fruit is captivating, and to back this with such confident fine tannins and enduring acid line is a balancing feat rarely pulled off so convincingly outside the hallowed sites of Chambolle-Musigny itself. In line, length and sheer jaw-dropping beauty, this is one of the greatest Curly Flats yet.
2017 Chardonnay, Curly Flat
£350 per 12 bottle case in bond
A far tauter vintage than we have seen of Curly Flat Chardonnay in a while, the nose reveals limey citrus and minerals. Lively and linear on the palate at its current youthful stage, this has a precise, racy, mineral-infused acidity that adds direction to the orchard fruit and citrus on show, with hints of jasmine and background toast. This will take a little longer to unfurl than some Curly Chardonnays based on this showing, but it should be well worth the wait; the cooler years have been fascinating and rewarding to track in the cellar. A pure, chiselled Chardonnay that finishes positive and long. Drink 2022-2030 (SL)
95 points, Jane Faulkner for James Halliday, Wine Companion
This has punch and weight in equal measure. Fuller-bodied with stone fruit, lemony tones, creamy and very moreish thanks to its restrained nutty/leesy flavours. There’s complexity and a vibrancy to the acidity as it glides effortlessly to its long finish.
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,