Giant Steps no longer an Innocent Bystander!
Barry Weinman: 14th September 2015
The first vintage at Giant Steps was made by Steve Flamsteed back in 2003, and he has been making the wines ever since. The Innocent Bystander label was established as a second brand to give the winery critical volume, given the limited production of the top wines.
Innocent Bystanders has been a runaway success, with production rapidly increasing to the point where the winery is now at full capacity, leading to production being expanded off-site. The success is such, that there is still demand to justify increasing production further. Moscato production alone is estimated to be at 60,000 cases.
Following an opportune approach from Brown Brothers, the decision was made to sell off Innocent Bystanders, to allow the opportunity to rationalise and focus on Giant Steps. The aim is to organically grow Giant Steps with the introduction of the Yarra Valley range sitting below the single vineyard wines.
A second label is being introduced (Wild Run) to provide an everyday quaff for cellar door customers.
Whilst the Single Vineyard wines have received critical acclaim for a number of years, I was interested to see how the Yarra Valley range stacked up. So it was great to sit down with Steve over a quick lunch and look through some of the wines.
For me, the Pinot and Chardonnay were the standouts. Excellent wines that are available at a fair price.
N.B. This was not a blind tasting, so points are only an indication.
Giants Steps – Chardonnay – Tarraford Vineyard – 2015 (18.5pts – $45). Fine and creamy, with lemon, minerals, stone fruit, vanilla and spice. The palate is very long, rich and textured, yet remains remarkably fine and seamless. Made from the P58 clone of Chardonnay, off 26 y/o vines, the vineyard leased since 2005.
Giants Steps – Chardonnay – Yarra Valley – 2015 (18pts – $35). A touch broader and more open than the Tarraford. The palate is more linear, with taut, lemony acid adding drive and length. The texture builds in the glass. Does not have quite the same depth as the Tarraford initially, but this should build nicely in the bottle.
Giants Steps – Pinot Noir – Applejack – 2015 (18.5+pts – $50). Pretty floral fruit, with cherry and raspberry characters. The palate is superb, with silky texture, supple mouth-feel and great length and depth. Candied notes add interest, as does a touch of toast from the oak. (60% whole bunch fermented).
Giants Steps – Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley – 2015 (18 – 18.5pts – $35). This wine was quite closed on the nose initially, whilst the palate showed earthy notes, with cherry fruit and texturing oak. The mouth-feel however was a highlight. With air, this transformed. The pretty berry fruit really opened up on both the nose and palate, and was quite delicious. This will be great with an hour or two in a decanter, or a couple of years in the cellar.
Giants Steps – Shiraz – Syrah – 2015 (17.7pts – $35). This has really pretty fruit that is perfumed, floral and spicy. Lovely mouth-feel, with vibrant fruit giving way to savoury, earthy flavours. An excellent food wine, as the acidity drives the finish.
Giants Steps – Merlot – 2015 (17.5pts $35). From the Sexton vineyard. This is a ripping drink. The fresh, pretty berry fruit is complemented by elegant tannins and fine acidity. Why wait?