There’s always questions when the founder of a famous winery leaves.
Will the wine style change? Prices go up? Labels disappear? No matter how many times the new owner says that it will be ‘business as usual’, there’s no shaking the slight nervousness that comes with the unknown.
While we don’t have any real answers about what will happen at Curly Flat now that founder Phillip Moraghan has exited the business, you’d have to say this is one situation where it should be fine. Phillip sold to ex-wife Jenny, so it’s not strictly a change of ownership as a buyout. Further, the new winemaker is Shadowfax’s Matt Harrop, who not only has plenty of experience making Macedon Ranges wines (for Shadowfax and his own label, Silent Way) but also has his own vineyard and property not far from Curly in Lancefield.
In other words, Curly Flat is in safe (and talented) hands.
What’s more, these new releases are *kisses fingers* superb. The ’16 Chardonnay, in particular, is built in a full-but-light-on-its-feet mode that I have much time for.
Curly Flat Chardonnay 2016
18 months in oak, pH 3.23, TA 7.5. Some of the 2016 Macedon Chardies can be a bit warm and shapeless but this Curly Flat shows all the width of a riper year and with perfectly poised acidity. Caramel, woodsmoke, oak spice, apple pie, peach and then a palate that is initially broad palate with a taut finish. Each time I came back to this the more pristine and grapefruity it looked, despite the richness of oak and fruit weight. This is lovely stuff – so chunky and plump but contained by grapefruit acidity (and elegant acidity as it went through malo). Footy player power, ballet dancer delicacy. Delicious full bodied Victorian Chardonnay. Best drinking: I like it now, but will look good for five years easily. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.6%, $46. Would I buy it? Absolutely.
Curly Flat The Curly Pinot Noir 2015
The top Pinot for Curly Flat and extremely serious. Spends 20 months in 100% new French oak and includes 100% whole bunches. The biggest challenge here is that we’re looking at a wine made for tomorrow. Molten raspberry nose with a fair dollop of coffeed oak and undertones of black spice. Plenty of oak width through the red fruited middle, but it has the stem tannins and the composure to back it up, with no shortage of bitter spice for good measure. High quality, ripe and powerful style with a Grand Cru Burgundy swagger. It’s a big oaky and chunky now, but time will be very kind. Best drinking: Wait. 2 years will be about right for the drinking window to open, then at least another six years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.1%, $66. Would I buy it? Yes, for the cellar.
Williams Crossing Pinot Noir 2016
Another very substantial Pinot. If anything this might put some people off with the sturdiness of the structure, given that most $29 Pinot is bright and simple stuff. Bright ruby, there’s a biscuity barrel character over luscious and full red raspberry fruit and a flash of briary spice, the palate with raspberry kirsch meets biscuity oak and late, frisky dry tannins. Light bodied but not light and that raspberry fruit is a delight. Lots of oak and tannins for the price, but ultimately that delivers a wine that feels much more serious than the price suggests. A standout. Best drinking: Now to six years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.2%, $29. Would I buy it? Sure would.