Here it is! Jens’ crazy trip to Australian Pinot Country:
You get to time travel on your way to Australia (which was kind of fun), losing a day on your way there & reliving a day on your way back. Would you believe me if I told you the trip was strenuous (in a hot weather, long trips, lots of wine sort of way). Australian Pinot Noir (little known in the US) hit the West Coast market about a year ago and the invitees (from Seattle, Dawn Smith, Sommelier & Wine Buyer at Purple Café in Bellevue and me; Rob Harpest, Russel Meek & Marie Near-Meek representing wine businesses in LA) had shown great interest in and sold a lot of Aussie Pinot over the last year, thus winning an invitation from WINE AUSTRALIA (our host) to learn first hand about the wine coming out of Victoria, Australia’s cool-weather wine region. We attended a 3-day Pinot Celebration outside of Melbourne and then hit the road:
Sunday, Jan 30 ~ We left the Pinot Conference at about 1pm, heading out for Giant Steps, one of the largest producers in the Yarra Valley, where we had an unforgettable day with Steve Flamsteed, winemaker of Giant Steps & Innocent Bystander. It was an impressive, modern facility:
But more interesting was Steve, a passionate winemaker & former cheesemaker, who gave us the low- down on the Yarra Valley while driving out to the spectacular vineyards.
With the first vineyard planted in 1838, the Yarra Valley is Victoria’s oldest wine region. Located in the wine belt surrounding Melbourne, this region is cooler and higher (up to 400m) than its neighbors. Although it is located inland, it does receive some benefit from the ocean, which is approximately 70km to the southwest. The region is highly regarded for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & it Bordeaux blends.
Giants Steps 2008 Harry’s Monster ~ A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot & Cabernet Franc. Beautiful black fruit on the nose with herbal & spicy components. Beautiful texture, complexity & elegance. Wonderful dark fruit, dark chocolate with hints of mint & other herbs. Super long finish.
Giant Steps was founded in 2001 with accelerating quality. Rock on Steve!!! Note: The only Giant Steps available in Seattle is Pinot Noir, which we will feature in our next Portlais Wine Club.
Stay tuned for day 2 on the road: De Bartoli, Yering Station & Plunkett Fowles.