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: Giant Steps

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Giant Steps

www.giant-steps.com.au

Cellar Door: 336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville, 3777

Vineyard: 10-12 Briarty Rd, Gruyere, 3770

Cellar Door: Mon-Fri (10-10); weekends (8-10)

Ph: (03) 5962 6111

Giant Steps vines
Giant Steps vineyard at Gruyere (Coldstream Hills). The cellar door is more strategically located on the Maroondah Highway

Western Australia's Devil's Lair founder, Phil Sexton, moved across the continent with Alison Sexton to establish the 34 ha winery.

The winery and main Sexton vineyard is about a km from Coldstream Hills down a dirt track road (past Yeringberg) and has mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir plus a bit of Merlot (until the 2004 vintage) and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the cellar door is located a few km away on the main Maroondah Highway near Healesville.

The name reflects the Sexton's love of the jazz of John Coltrane. Much of the wine is sourced from long-term contracted vineyards in and around the Yarra Valley and a small amount from the Alpine Valley, King Valley, McLaren Vale and Strathbogie Ranges.

The funky second label is called Innocent Bystander. The Innocent Bystander wines are unashamedly food friendly and ready to drink.

The stand out wines for me in the Giant Steps range are the Harry's Monster (which despite the name is an elegant, if sometimes heavily extracted, Bordeaux blend) and the Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir. I was also rather fond of the Sexton Vineyard Merlot but it has been discontinued.

 

Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

New reviews

Giant Steps Applejack Pinot Noir 2015

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2026

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, Upper Yarra vineyard, perfumed and heady red cherry and dark plums with peppery spices, some sage, mint and rose petal florals, generous, pure and medium bodied with good length and persistent dusty tannins and an unexpected twist of dark chocolate on the finish, whole bunch herbal elements are well integrated  (****1/2)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink:  2023

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2015, highly perfumed, this has deceptive power despite its smooth elegance, sumptuous lemon rind, honeydew melon, pear skin and peach with white flower and flint notes, fine mineral-infused grapefruit acidity, builds intensity down  the line with a subtle spicy cashew notes on the finish (****1/2)  

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2024

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2015,  mix of six clones, 40% whole bunch inclusion, aromatic and brightly lit black cherry and redcurrant with rose petal florals and a touch of flat sarsaparilla, the palate is light-medium on entry but builds intensity down the long palate, sweet mocha/vanillla oak and fine, slinky tannins (****)

Giant Steps Applejack Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink:  2021

(GXY) Tasting:\ Dec 2015, MV5, 114. 115 clones, 60% whole bunch, vineyard is in the cooler Upper Yarra on volcanic loam soils, highly perfumed with a silky core of strawberry and end cherry fruit with evident whole bunch herbal aspects and pepper and mint nuances, some underlying beetroot earthiness, vibrant stemmy citric acidity and loose knit fine grained tannin (****)

Innocent Bystander Mea Culpa Syrah 2012

Purchased: Not: ($60)

Drink: 2023+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2015, Gold Medals at Yarra Valley Wine Show 2014 and Royal Melbourne Wine Show 2014, sourced from the Tarraford Vineyard which is now managed according to biodynamic principles, 85% whole bunch, floral and quite perfumed showing mulberry, cherry and plum skin flavours that are wrapped in herbal cured meat, spice, anise and white pepper complexity, dusty medium bodied palate, the oak from the aged 500 litre puncheons is subtle and integrated,  has avoided the pitfall of overt green, stalky character this style is susceptible to in mild vintages (*****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink:

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, perfumed sour cherry and raspberry with rose petal florals and anise, generous medium-full bodied palate with some whole bunch complexity, fine chalky tannins and coffee/cinnamon/clove oak on the finish (****)

Giant Steps Applejack Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, from an Upper Valley vineyard, MV6, 114 and 115 clones, silky, generous and sweet-fruited cranberry, raspberry and plum with incense, rose petal, sage and black pepper notes, long and medium-full bodied with charry coffee/cedar/clove oak and sappy acidity (****)

Giant Steps Harry’s Monster 2012

Purchased: Not ($55)

Drink: 2022

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, blend of Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot, core of brambly cassis and redcurrants with bright violet florals, some bay leaf, mint, peppery spice and sage in there as well, medium bodied with drying, dusty tannins and a touch of dark chocolate on the finish (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2013

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, riper style showing melon, citrus, peach and a hint of pineapple and gun flint, some jasmine and citrus blossom florals, creamy with savoury lees inputs, a bit broader than usual, minerally finish with orange peel acidity (***1/2)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting:  Oct 2012, Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at Yarra Valley Wine Show 2012, quite aromatic, expansive opening showing cranberry,  cherry and raspberry with mint and rose petal notes, long and supple with fresh, slightly herbal acidity, tightens up on back half, firm dusty tannins and  well integrated spicy and charry oak (****1/2)

Innocent Bystander Mia Culpa Syrah 2011

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting:  Oct 2012, Gold Medal at Yarra Valley Wine Show 2012, whole bunch fermented from Tarraford Vineyard, pure medium bodied blackberry, mulberry and black cherry with exotic spices, white pepper and herb notes, savoury complexity, very good line and length, long, slinky tannins, some sappy acidity but not too bracing (****1/2)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2010

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: May 2012, 7 clones, whole bunch pressed, 5% malo, smooth, elegant and light and granny smith apple, peach and green mango with oatmeal/biscuit lees complexity, evenly weighted, flinty and savoury finish with spicy almond/clove oak and lemon sherbert acidity, just lacks the persistence of the very best Chardonnays (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: May 2010, pre-release tasting, shapely and long with minimal malo but plenty of nutty/yeasty lees inputs to build up texture and savouriness, nectarine, melon and cumquat but avoids the confectionary aspect of the warmer 2007 vintage, lively backbone of chalky acids, the toasty and spicy oak is little raw at this stage but should settle down with a bit more bottle age (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Harry’s Monster 2008

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: May 2010, blend of 70% Cabenet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc, medium bodied but quite briary and richly flavoured showing mulberry and blackcurrant flavours with menthol, liquorice and pepper notes, the back half is infused with chewy but finely powdered tannins and roast coffee ­ dark chocolate oak inputs (****)

Innocent Bystander Moscato 2009

Purchased: Not

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, low alcohol (5.5%) blend of 65% Muscat Gordo and 35% Black Muscat, light and spritzy musk, rose petals and lemon sherbert with some minerally mid-palate texture and cleansing acid, crown seal, not meant to be taken too seriously but is better than a lot of other Moscatos (***1/2)

Giant Steps Arthurs Creek Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2009, Top of Class Gold Medal at 2009 Victorian Wine Show, from a low yielding vineyard on a creek flat in the Diamond Valley, 110V1 clone, funky wild yeast inputs, 80% natural malo with regular lees stirring, complex and elegant nectarine, white peach and lime leaf with nougat and French roll notes, creamy but kept fresh by the flinty minerality and grapefruit acidity, long and linear with spicy almond oak (*****)

Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2009, Single Vineyard Trophy at Royal Melbourne Wine Show 2009, picked before the March heatwave, P58 clone, wild yeast and barrel ferments with regular lees stirring, taut and austere showing nectarine and canned pear with nutmeg and freshly baked bread aspects, leesy and slightly waxy palate, tightly wound with slaty minerality, fresh lemon acids and toasty hazelnut-vanilla French oak, lingering minerally finish, needs a bit more fruit depth to show off the complex wine-craft (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2007

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2009, from the main vineyard near Coldstream, blended from six clones, minimal malo and fining but regular lees stirring, quite a rich and complex wine but gets a bit broad and confectionary in places, nectarine, canned pear and melon with pineapple, cumquat and dried fig aspects, toasty hazelnut oak and chalky lemon acids dominate the finish, early developing style reflecting the hot vintage (***1/2)

Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: June 2009, lovely perfumed nose, fairly pristine strawberry, red cherry and cranberry with bay leaf and cinnamon notes, admirably restrained and elegant despite the late vintage heat, persistent web of very fine tannins (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: June 2009, fuller and meatier than the Tarraford showing sour red cherry and spicy plum with cinnamon, clove and white pepper notes, earthy with some mushroom aspects, fine, dusty and lingering tannins, seems a touch sturdier than usual (***1/2)

Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris 2008

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2009, lifted nose showing a touch over-extracted pear and lychee with fennel and spice complexity and some emerging honeysuckle, barrel ferment texture with a whisper of vanilla on the finish, gentle powdery acids, this was toned back from earlier vintages but not enough (***)

Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: April 2008, attractive aromatic nose, complex palate showing red cherry, dark plum and blackberry flavours, medium bodied and earthy with white pepper, dried herb and cinnamon spiciness, subtle toasty oak is infused through the palate, backbone of powdery tannins, spicier and even better length than the Sexton Vineyard (****1/2)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: April 2008, tight core of fruit including red cherry, dark plum and glazed blackberry, medium bodied and earthy with white pepper, discrete but spicy French oak, fine powdery tannins with excellent length (****)

Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay 2006

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2008, melon, stonefruit with nectarine and brown lime nuances, creamy with barrel ferment texture underpinned with lively lemon acidity, assertive cashew-vanilla oak (***1/2)

Giant Steps Miller Vineyard Shiraz 2006

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, vibrant expression of blackcurrant and black cherry with violet features, the addition of 3% Viognier is just right, medium-full bodied and smooth palate frames array of cracked pepper and dried herb complexity, good length and fine tannins (****)

Giant Steps Harry's Monster 2005

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, attractive blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, rich and ripe plum, blackberry and blackcurrant with liquorice features, quite spicy and full bodied palate although seems a bit overly extractive, with sandalwood oak finish with mint/menthol notes, smooth tannins (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Merlot 2004

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, the last vintage of the Merlot due to lack of demand which is shame as its much better than a lot of the Merlot going around, attractive red cherry and dark plum with plenty of black pepper, cinnamon and clove spiciness, medium bodied with fine savoury tannins, balanced sandalwood oak (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, rather confectionary but hard-edged fruit showing red cherry and plum with a touch of anise, earthy palate with some white pepper complexity and a touch of oregano, dusty tannins, subtle mocha-vanilla oak (***)

Innocent Bystander Chardonnay 2006

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, flavoursome lemon sherbert, melon and nectarine with a backbone of grapefruit acidity, the palate is pretty oily but with well judged French oak, good value for those who like smooth flavoursome Chardonnay (***1/2)

Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris 2006

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, 20% oaked, lifted nose, rather extractive and intense pear with fennel and spice complexity, tangy with a mineral base, touch of vanilla, if this was toned back a bit it could be a very good wine (***)

Innocent Bystander Shiraz Viognier 2005

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, mixture of Yarra Valley and McLaren Vale fruit, attractive dark plum and blackberry with fruitcake and dark chocolate sweetness, smooth palate has lots of Viognier lift (too much for me), fine tannins (***)

Innocent Bystander Bleeding Heart Sangiovese Merlot 2005

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, there is also a bit of Cabernet in this super-Tuscan blend of Yarra, Mclaren Vale and King Valley fruit, medium bodied sour cherry and dark plum with a touch of dark chocolate, firmish savoury tannins (***)

Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato 2007

Purchased: Not ($14)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2007, mix of Gordo Muscat and Black Muscat, light and sweet musc and rose petals, spitzy with minerally mid-palate, dry finish (***)

Giant Steps Sexton Harry's Monster 2004

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2006, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, array of plum, blackberry and blackcurrant with liquorice and clove features, lush and spicy medium-full bodied palate with cedar oak, oaky finish with mint/menthol notes, smooth tannins (****)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2004

Purchased: Not ($26)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2006, generous melon, nectarine and grapefruit with a hint of fig and marzipan, oily palate shows lees influence, slightly smoky vanilla oak, citrussy acids a touch soft (***1/2)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004

Purchased: Not ($26)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2006, red and black cherry aromas, medium-full bodied palate is riper with jammy plum and cherry confectionary features, subtle mocha-vanilla oak features, drying tannins (***)

Innocent Bystander Sangiovese Merlot 2004

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2006, blackberry and sour cherry with chocolate and pepper features, savoury medium bodied palate, fine tannins (***)

Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato 2004

Purchased: Not ($17)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2006, fragrant musc and pear with a touch of rose petals, sweet palate with dry, vanilla finish (**1/2)

Innocent Bystander Pinot Rose 2004

Purchased: Not ($17)

Drink: 2005

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2005, a novel way of dealing with the excess Pinot grapes from the Yarra Valley (after all sparkling Pinot has already been done), the nose has the rose water and spice (fennel) you would associate with Roses, but the palate is much more full bodied with plum, blackcurrant and powerful (for a Rose style) maraschino cherry, a step up from the normally insipid Australian Rose, should a pleasing novelty for those who want to drink it chilled on at a party hot summer afternoon (**1/2)