Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Giant Steps is a privately-owned Yarra Valley estate founded by Phil Sexton in 1998. It has since forged a reputation for making some of the Yarra Valley's most consistently exciting wines from estate-owned vineyards. The Giant Steps Single Vineyard wines are produced from their best vineyard sites in great years. Head winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team’s aim is to express the character of the vineyard, grape and vintage in each wine. They achieve this through meticulous work in the vineyard and minimum intervention in the winery.
The Sexton vineyard is owned and run by Phil Sexton, the founder and owner of Giant Steps. Situated next to Coldstream Hills and Yarra Yering, it is in the heart of the Yarra Valley, where poor soils produce miserly yields, leading in turn to intense and concentrated wines.
The Applejack vineyard is situated in the Upper Yarra, where soils are generally deep and more volcanic in origin. However, the Applejack vineyard is on grey/brown clay loam which reduces vigour and yields, making it perfectly suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The site elevation is just under 300 metres, but its proximity to dense, temperate forest makes this site significantly cooler than Sexton and Tarraford.
The ‘Wombat Creek’ vineyard is the highest altitude vineyard in the Yarra Valley at 420 metres above sea level, making it an ideal location for the production of cool climate wines. The underlying ferrous-based volcanic soil and rock produce a Pinot Noir with a distinctively soft yet long and firm palate that contrasts with the finer palates seen from the nearby Applejack Vineyard. New to our list this year is the scented and elegant ‘Wombat Creek’ Chardonnay, in the words of James Suckling: “Wow!”
Soils in the Tarraford vineyard are a clay-loam duplex and contain a fairly solid ironstone content. The root profiles are deep and vertical, which means the vines are accessing material deep into the soil subsurface. The Chardonnay that comes off Tarraford is highly perfumed, and there is a citrus-peel element that is characteristic of the Chardonnay from this site irrespective of vintage conditions.
The Lusatia Park vineyard was established in 1985 on the Lone Star Creek in the Upper Yarra Valley. Its north-facing aspect, deep free-draining red soils and close-planted vines ensure intense varietal flavours derived from long, consistent ripening. At 220 metres above sea level, this elevated, marine-influenced site enjoys significantly cooler conditions to those on the valley floor, lending itself to more elegant wine styles.