I sat down to lunch with good company late February this year to taste the latest releases from Macedon Ranges winery “Curly Flat”, presented by owner and winemaker Phillip Moraghan, along with a couple of older wines for comparison. I did so with some anticipation because I’d had just a few wines from this producer and all had piqued my interest.
Following the lunch I acquired a couple of bottles of the 2010 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so that I could return to them without the distractions of lunch, good company etc.
Curly Flat Macedon Ranges Pinot Gris 2012 Pale, bright colour, shy but showing glimpses of stone fruits, bone dry, delicate complex and beguiling; long, with taut bracing acidity. Frankly, not what I had expected as “pinot gris”, having a distinct bent towards the Alsatian style, but there is no doubting the fine quality and it complemented a canapé of wood smoked salmon, caviar, crème fraiche and apple salsa beautifully. Bottled under screw cap, its delicacy belies its alcohol at 13.8: $29/bottle
Curly Flat Macedon Ranges Chardonnay 2010 Green tinged light gold colour, clean as a whistle; whiff of matchstick at first then reveals a complex, spicy, long palate with ripe peach, nectarine and fig, laced with lively grapefruit-tinged acidity. The wine is seamless, and slowly opens up nuances of cashew and meal amid sweet oak references (55% new). This wine will age effortlessly and gracefully over the next 5 to 7 years. A gorgeous wine for the cellar; I tasted this at the lunch and then over the last week. Stelvin cap, 13.6%: $42/bottle
Curly Flat Macedon Ranges Chardonnay 2006 If I needed any support for my view that the 2010 Curly Flat Chardonnay would benefit from further cellaring, this was proof positive; the colour showed little sign of its age. Rich but focussed, long, complex and textured, no single element shouting for attention. Older vintages have shown similar traits. I wish I had some in my cellar. If you are similarly challenged, buy the 2010 and exercise restraint.
Curly Flat Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2010 Tasted over lunch and again over the last week, the wine shows medium, red purple bright, clean colour. It displays intense, essence dark fruit characters, some exotic spicy notes and charry oak. As the wine opened up, it became more fragrant, more complex and frankly more-ish. At the lunch it paired off (as is the duty of Pinot Noir) effortlessly with pan seared duck breast on parsnip puree; last week it dealt with pan fried salmon and a number of other challenges without losing its way and without overtaking the meal. This wine has such poise and balance that it will easily reward cellaring for another 7 years and deserves the opportunity. Stelvin cap and 13.8% – $48/bottle
Phillip Moraghan established Curly Flat twenty years ago, and has year by year made incremental changes in the vineyard (the use of herbicides ceased some six years ago, for example) and learned from each vintage what the Macedon Ranges can produce.
It’s aptly named “Curly Flat” which for those who aren’t familiar with the work of Melbourne’s Michael Leunig is the home of Mr Curly, whose reflections on the human condition have amused, challenged and informed readers of The Age newspaper for many years. Of the many observations to flow from Leunig’s pen, two stick in my mind: one is a man heading off to work in the morning, briefcase in hand with jumper leads from his car firmly clamped on his backside, and the other, a wistful character watching a sunrise on television while the real thing can be seen behind him through his living room window.
Phillip Moraghan hasn’t needed jumper leads, and spends a lot of time in his vineyard where he concedes most of the winemaking is done. Curly Flat is full of energy and so are the vines and the wines.
The current releases (the 2010 Curly Flat Pinot Noir and 2010 Curly Flat Chardonnay) are the best yet from this vineyard that I have tasted. Phillip Moraghan also offers Williams Crossing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The current releases, from 2011, are very good value, early to medium term drinking, and I have enjoyed many vintages of these wines. There are also older vintages and wines available in larger formats available from the vineyard. The pricing at all levels is very fair indeed for wines of this quality.
Visit the website at www.curlyflat.com; better still take the one hour trip from Melbourne to the vineyard at 263 Collivers Road, Lancefield. Watch the Macedon Ranges as a force to be reckoned with in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s a cool region.