Marco Lubiana arrived on the wine scene with a bang.
His first pair of releases, from the 2018 vintage on the family’s Lucille Vineyard in Huon Valley, garnered off-the-chart plaudits. “Star quality,” was Nick Stock‘s verdict. “A powerful, complex Chardonnay and a stunning Vosne-like Pinot Noir.” Gary Walsh of The Wine Front was equally effusive: “So stylish and lovely to drink, not forced. Beautiful.” That was the Chardonnay, while its sibling was “a terrific expression of Pinot Noir” that managed to be “bright and rich at once with a stony cherry-pip finish of excellent length”.
Since growing those wines, Marco endured heartbreak when the southern central bushfires of 2019 wrote off the Huon Valley crop. But that same harvest he more than kept his eye in, working the family vineyard in Granton with father Steve, whose biodynamic principles and deft, gentle, intuitive approach Marco has inherited.
Only recently bottled, the 2020 wines have already won Marco the title of Best New Act in the Young Gun of Wine awards.
As seasons go, it was far from straightforward. But marginality and tension are what we love about Tasmanian wines, especially when you have a tenacious and sensitive grower who can navigate the rapids and guide you to a calm, composed port.
Tenacity is a quality the Lubiana family has shown in spades since striking out for Tasmania in 1990. Their home on the Derwent River is the island’s first and only biodynamic-certified estate, and they continue to raise the bar with sensuous wines of vitality and true character.
Marco is a chip off the old block; it’s wonderful to witness this blend of tradition-backed diligence and easy-going confidence. The wines, equal parts flair and composure, are primed to wow once more.
The site was half planted in 1973, with the rest of the vines going in back in 1997, making these the oldest vines in the Huon Valley. 85% of the vineyard is Pinot Noir with the balance Chardonnay. It has a thin, dark sandy-loam topsoil over a subsoil that combines low-fertility white/orange clay and rounded riverbed stones. The vineyard is certified biodynamic. Annual rainfall here is about 700mm, and harvest in the cool valley typically takes place around early April.
The 2020 was a challenging harvest overall but I’m very happy with the result. It was a very cool year, pretty much the opposite of the 2018 vintage which was a lot warmer and had perfect harvest weather.
The vineyard started off the growing season a little bumpy with spring frost burning the young shoots in the low areas of the vineyard, mainly the Chardonnay, which was very disappointing. Flowering also wasn’t ideal either, with rainy, windy weather wreaking havoc on the pollinating flowers, leading to rather poor fruit set.
The growing season was rather mild. The summer was not very hot with temperatures in the mid-20s. Then, only a matter of weeks (April) before harvest the weather got a lot cooler and small rain patterns started to appear. This led to instances of berry split. The blocks with poor set and small berries were the worst hit, with up to 50% damaged. – Marco Lubiana
IN A NUTSHELL
- Single vineyard
- Biodynamic farmed
- Huon Valley, Tasmania
- Spontaneous ferments
- Natural malolactic conversion
- No acid additions
- No finings
- 100% pressings
Pinot Noir clones Abel, 777, MV6, 115, 114, 667, 2051, 8104 and 8048. Our first pick was on 9th April, from part of the vineyard that had no splitting and was made into two ferments. The first was a 100% whole-bunch ferment which was left for six days untouched besides some warming, without any yeast or sulphur added. I hand-sorted each picking tray in the vineyard before they went into the picking bin, which was tipped straight into the open-top fermenter. Once the bottom juice was dry, I stomped it once a day for four days and then basket pressed it to tank. This portion made up 16% of the bottled wine.
The second ferment was 100% destemmed, with a cold soak for five days, warmed up because it was so cold in the Huon. It was pumped over twice a day for 15-20 minutes until it was down to 1 baumé. It stayed on skins for another five days before being basket-pressed to tank with all the pressings. This latter process was the same for the second pick on 14th April: 100% destemmed and berry sorted.
So the Pinot Noir batch comprises these three lots. The first pick was my favourite and was also picked on a full moon flower day, which is cool.
The wine went through natural full malolactic conversion in spring with sulphur addition afterwards. I used 26% new oak this year; the vineyard and season demanded it, so I delivered the best barrels I thought would suit the fruit. Minier, Chassin, Siruge, Damy, Taransaud and Boutes were the coopers. Some barrels were racked, some not, after malo. The wines were pulled out of barrel in May, nice and clear, needing no filtration. I personally bottled it unfined with high-quality corks.
The nose shows fresh cherry and raspberry, subtle spice and earth. The palate has lots of cherries and fresh blackcurrants, with Christmas-cake spices and vanilla. It’s elegant but affirmative with good length, driven by fresh acidity and tannin that is smooth but structured. – Marco Lubiana