“How good is Tasmanian Pinot Noir!” asks Jeni Port, clearly rhetorically, in the face of compelling evidence of its wondrousness from Stefano Lubiana.
If you missed the memo about these bottlings, then we’ll fill you in with the help of Jeni’s Halliday Wine Companion colleague Ned Goodwin MW, who wrote of the previous release: “These single-plot Pinots are among the finest of the country, demanding serious attention.”
There are three blocks singled out for special attention on account of their special terroir and the way the fruit’s striking definition stood out to Steve Lubiana. One of them, Il Giardino, wasn’t made in 2018. (Its soil is kind of an amalgam of the other two, so I suppose it’s there in spirit.)
So it is that we offer Ruscello and La Roccia, a couple of shining examples of an organic winemaker at the top of his game, who knows his vineyard intimately.
SINGLE-BLOCK PINOT NOIR
The three plots – Ruscello, Il Giardino and La Roccia – have been singled out for their diverse soil and topography, and the nuances of shape, texture and structure that these give to these unique iterations of Pinot Noir. Crop levels are kept low at 3 to 4 tonnes per hectare or 800g to 1kg per vine.
Winemaking is very simple and relatively consistent between blocks, with the number of whole clusters in the ferment being the main difference. All are fermented with natural yeast in small, open fermenters with a total maceration of three weeks. All blocks are matured in French oak barriques (20% new) for 12 months.
2018 Stefano Lubiana Ruscello Pinot Noir $100
Ruscello translates to ‘small mountain stream’. The Ruscello block is located near a little creek that runs mostly in winter through the middle of the property. This block has a very gentle north-facing slope. The soil consists of grey gravelly silt over gravelly clay. It is light and full of silica crystals that warm up quickly and release heat to the vines overnight. The gravel also provides good drainage.
This block is situated on the mid slope in our vineyard, it avoids the cooler breeze felt by the blocks nearer to the Derwent River that flows 24/7. Soil fertility is low providing well-balanced open vines, with good sunlight exposure. It is planted to a number of Pinot Noir clones, some of which we can’t remember. The average vine age is 24 years. This block produces very generous and feminine fruit, everything that is exquisite, attractive and lovely about Pinot Noir. Here the soil transfers good aromatics, softer structure and power to the wine. – Steve & Monique Lubiana
How good is Tasmanian Pinot Noir! A wine rich in a profound complexity, seamless and dark. It moves, it glides with fruit intensity deep in dark fruits and savoury spice, bitter chocolate, pomegranate. Smooth across the middle with beautifully crafted tannins. The next step up in Australian Pinot Noir terms is here.96 points. Jeni Port, Halliday Wine Companion 2021
2018 Stefano Lubiana La Roccia Pinot Noir $100
La Roccia: the rock. This block is 1.5ha in size and is located on a beautiful north-eastern hillside, overlooking the Derwent River at an elevation of 80m. This block is mostly terra rossa soil, deep red clay-marl over clay, with limestone bedrock. Free, draining, high-pH soil. The Pinot clones consist of 667 and 115, and are on their own roots.
This block is always the first to be harvested and consistently provides the most structure and tannin of the three sites, needing longer ageing in bottle to come into full balance. The vines grown in this parcel have the lowest vigour and therefore the most exposure to the sun. There’s a big rock shelf in the middle of the block, whence it derives its name. – Steve & Monique Lubiana
Another in the single block series of pinots, and this time drinkers are in for a spice-fuelled treat. What an exhilarating wine with energy to burn. The scent of licorice, nutmeg, musk and pepper are joined in the glass by black fruits, forest floor. Smooth and even with nicely defined tannins, the middle palate lift and long goodbye provides a starring role for dark spices.96 points. Jeni Port, Halliday Wine Companion 2021
ALSO FROM 2018…
2018 Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir $70
100% certified biodynamic, estate-grown, single-vineyard Pinot Noir from a mix of two terroirs: grey gravelly loams over clay and red loam over gravel. Fruit is hand picked and sorted by hand on a vibrating table. Matured in French oak for 8-10 months.
Our Estate Pinot Noir is always a wine that needs time to show its true colours. It is made for the long haul, with ample tannin and acidity as well as fruit density to last the distance. Densely packed layers of aroma on the nose, with a strikingly intense palate, are supported by especially vibrant and luscious fruit notes and fine tannin structure. A wine that will continue to open and grow with time in the bottle. – Steve & Monique Lubiana
A rocking, rolling, fruit pastille-charged, filigree-fine pinot noir from a winemaker who always delivers. An upbeat entry with small red berries, toasted spice, orange rind aromas. Class act throughout from the tight coils of concentrated fruit, supple, even-handed tannins to smooth-knit oak. With texture and presence.95 points. Jeni Port, Halliday Wine Companion 2021