Debut Chardonnay & Pinot from Tassie rising star

Star quality. Welcome second-generation Tasmanian vigneron Marco Lubiana who is just releasing his debut wines from 2018. A powerful, complex Chardonnay and a stunning Vosne-like Pinot Noir.

Nick Stock

We are family at CellarHand. So much of the growth of the portfolio – and the strength, character and fun of the enterprise – has come from deepening and extending roots that are planted firmly in existing, evolving friendships. 

Such is the case with this new member of the band – please welcome Marco Lubiana!

Marco shares the values and philosophy of his parents, Steve and Monique, who joined the CellarHand fold back in 2007. He shares the vision and tenacity that made them the sole certified-organic grower on the island for some years. He shares their blend of earthy, laidback farming and focused, principled determination. And he’s a wine lover, with leanings anchored to an acute sense of aesthetic, taste, structure and texture. 

Like his parents, Marco’s focus is in minute observation and intense nature-harnessing work in the vineyard. In the cellar he espouses the simplest, gentlest practices. Pumps are used sparingly for ferments and after that gravity takes preference. Cold, humid cellar temperatures during maturation allow for a slow evolution of the wine. Sulphur is a tool father Steve taught him to use wisely; Marco uses the least possible without losing freshness and age-worthiness in the wines.

Marco has a different vineyard and pocket of Australia to explore and express. The Lucille Vineyard sits on the banks of the Huon River in southern Tasmania. It 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 biodynamic in conversion, and will be certified in 2021.

This debut, featuring Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 2018, is both a firm statement of intent from Marco, and a sure sign that there are more great things to come.


2018 Marco Lubiana Lucille Vineyard Chardonnay $55

Grapes hand-picked and hand-sorted. Pressed with a Champagne cycle, with pressings blended into the free-run juice. Racked the next day to barrel for mostly natural fermentation. Fermented pretty cool (about 21˚C), long and typically reductively. Left on lees with very rare stirring. Barrels racked clear so no need for fining or filtering. Personally bottled by Marco.

I liked it straight away. It’s saline and nutty, ripe lemon, cut fennel, a quiet perfume. Bright and zesty, but with an almost milky oatmeal softness, fine chalk dust texture, ginger and pink grapefruit, brine and grilled nuts on a long cool finish. So stylish and lovely to drink, not forced. Beautiful.

95 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front March 2020

2018 Marco Lubiana Lucille Vineyard Pinot Noir $55

Hand-picked and rigorously hand-sorted, with the majority (80% in 2018) destemmed to whole berries and tipped into stainless-steel open-top vat, on top of the whole-cluster portion. After a three-day cold soak, natural fermentation kicks off. The wine generally spends two to three weeks on skins, and is tasted every day until the tannins present perfectly. The skins are shovelled into a basket press and, following their very soft fermentation, pressed hard with the pressings mixed back with the free-run juice. The wine is racked and, about a week later, run by gravity to seasoned French barriques. Malolactic fermentation in spring. The wine is racked out of barrel the following March, paying careful attention so that it’s crystal clear. Bottled unfined, unfiltered and with only 60ppm sulphur added through the process. Personally bottled by Marco.

I’ll say this in the introduction, rather than the note, but this tastes like Pinot Noir by way of Foillard Morgon. 
Dark cherry, clod earth, spice, dried roses, a bit of lift. It’s ripe and earthy, blood plum, dried herbs, distinct ‘mineral’ feel, rich silty tannin, an amaro bite dusted with cocoa, bright and rich at once with a stony cherry pip finish of excellent length. Character plus. Natty, but nice. It’s a terrific expression of Pinot Noir.

95 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front March 2020

A stunning debut Pinot from Marco Lubiana, from a single parcel in the Huon valley. Super fresh aromas of red flowers, red cherries and blood oranges are framed in gently spicy and earthy tones. Vosne-like aromatic purity. Incredibly silky palate with texture like velvet. The fresh red fruit cascades effortlessly and delivers such precise, long and plush cherry flavour that blooms out the finish. Star-quality pinot. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold.

96 points. Nick Stock, July 2020

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