I was blown away when I tasted Giant Steps Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2022 with Head of Winemaking & Viticulture at Giant Steps, Melanie Chester. With some amazing vineyards in Yarra Valley, she and her team produce amazing single-vineyard Chardonnays but this, their “straight” Yarra Valley Chardonnay, was my favourite because of its pure, clean style and finesse. Melanie explained that a mix of grapes from specially selected Chardonnay clones planted in both upper and lower Yarra Valley, simple wine-making including whole-bunch pressing, indigenous yeast, their unique gravity flow winery and lees ageing make this a wine of character with great concentration and depth.
The resulting wine is fruit-driven – citrus fruits, just-ripe stone fruits and melon – with mineral notes, a delicate nuttiness and an almost Chablis-esque crisp acidity. This is a very elegant and complex wine with a very long finish, the sign of a true quality wine.
How to Enjoy this Wine
This is a very food-friendly wine. The producer suggests the following: “BBQ roasted prawns with citrus dressing. Pan seared john dory fish with capers. Roasted asparagus with mustard vinaigrette and slithered almonds.”
Serve at: 10 – 14°C
“2022 was a high quality but low yielding season in the Yarra Valley. A very cool, wet and stormy spring resulted in some challenging conditions around flowering and hence very poor fruit set. The season proceeded to dry out into December, with a dry and warm Christmas period. This exacerbated the already small bunch weights, leading to bunches that weighed up to 40% lower than normal years. The mild summer meant long, slow ripening and flavour concentration throughout summer, with some well-placed rain in January refreshing the vineyards at just the right time. The strong canopies and low fruit load meant we sailed neatly into picking with very little disease or weather pressure affecting our picking decisions. The grapes from 2022 came off the vine with lovely concentration and flavour and great natural acidity.“
95 points Halliday Wine Companion May 2023
“A light, bright green gold. Pure fruited with an attractive nose of just ripened orchard and stone fruits, pink grapefruit and orange blossom. A hint of matchstick and just-baked ginger snaps. Concentrated and lithe at the same time, Giant Step’s calling card is just as good, if not better than the super 2021 release.”
16.5 points – JancisRobinson.com – Jul 2023
“Pretty smart, convincing and refreshing on the nose. Very delicate with winemaking as accomplished as for the single-vineyard Chardonnays. Lots of fresh acidity but no shortage of just-ripe-enough fruit. Amazingly long for a basic bottling. I’d be tempted to save money and go for this one!”