NEW RELEASES : 2019 Curly Flat Pinot Noir And Chardonnay - Flying high

NEW RELEASES : 2019 Curly Flat Pinot Noir And Chardonnay - Flying high

2019 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Curly Flat


Pinot Noir - £195 per 6 bottle case in bond
Chardonnay - £185 per 6 bottle case in bond

When I tasted the Curly Flat wines many years ago, I was stunned by just how good they were. This would have been in the early to mid-2000s and these wines were hugely impressive in the context of New World Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Today, the wines are even better, and they are hugely impressive in the context of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – full stop. Simply put, they are no longer in need of being defined or categorised as New World to attract plaudits.
Jancis Robinson wrote an engaging article for the FT entitled ‘New World Order’, in which she discussed global Pinot Noir and the fact that Burgundy, on account of climate change, had started to produce much more potent styles with higher alcohol. Commenting on her tasting of 280 red burgundies, she commented that some were ‘just too bold and sweet to fit into my idea of the red burgundy paradigm’. Conversely, she argued ‘there has been a real evolution in the style of wine made by the top exponents of Pinot Noir outside France. Their wines are so much more subtle than they used to be’, adding that while a generalisation, her advice is to ‘abandon any lingering prejudice against Pinot Noir grown outside Burgundy’. Among her accompanying list of recommended Pinot Noir producers, we find Curly Flat. And in case you think Jancis is only a champion of the Curly Flat Pinot Noir, she once commented of an early vintage of the Chardonnay, that it was ‘an absolute dead ringer for mature white Burgundy’ and that ‘the French should be force fed with this (Curly Flat Chardonnay)’. 

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. 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 has been instrumental in inching the quality of Curly Flat’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir forward, notably in the last two vintages. And it is a case of ‘inching’ forward with one percent gains; it is these small refinements and tweaks to the viticultural approach and the winemaking, and the willingness to constantly push for them, that gently lifts quality from an already established producer.
Please see below my notes on the two 2019s.

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2019 Pinot Noir, Curly Flat
£195 per 6 bottle case in bond
Aged for 16 months in French oak barriques of which 22% was new oak.

Bright in hue, with fragrant aromas of juicy red fruits allied to discreet spice – a classic Pinot nose with fine purity. Showing refinement on the palate, fresh and vibrant, with that typical Curly melange of red and dark fruits, both cherry and berry. The 2019 is all about poise and finesse, a certain delicacy to its profile than is evident in some vintages. As ever, there is that creamy intensity of swirling, juicy fruit that renders this wine so compelling, overlaying finely-grained, wonderfully ripe and sleek tannins. Just as it leads to the finish, there is an enlivening note of cranberry and a hint of Asian spice that leads long into the finish. My scribbled note ended with the words ‘the team at Curly are adjusting brilliantly to different vintage profiles – they just don’t seem to put a foot wrong’. The 2018 was epic, the 2019 in the same class. Drink 2025-2036+ (SL). 


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2019 Chardonnay, Curly Flat
£185 per 6 bottle case in bond
Aged for 14 months in French oak barriques of which 34% was new oak.

Pale in the glass – with air it reveals enticing aromas of grilled grapefruit, juicy lime and toasted nut as well as a very subtle leesy note. The palate is immediately captivating – with more juicy stone fruits, nectarine and exotic fruits too, as well as mouthwatering lime and citrus. Perhaps this is a slightly more forward drinking vintage than its 2018 counterpart, but still has the structure to age, with terrific natural acidity and a chalky, mineral undertow. A touch richer and rounder this vintage, but so appealing, the consistency of Curly Flat’s Chardonnay is quite remarkable. Yes, there are subtle shifts in style in accordance with vintage, but the quality remains high, year in, year out. This is another outstanding vintage in a long run of successes. Drink 2023 to 2032 (SL).

The following for these exceptional wines grows with each passing year. Fortunately, our relationship with the estate and the agent is based on very solid foundations!
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,

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