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, Marco Lubiana. His parents Steve and Monique joined the CellarHand fold back in 2007. It was when the shift to biodynamic viticulture was about to take hold on their estate in Granton, a move that would make them the sole certified-organic grower on the island for some years. The Lubianas’ blend of earthy, laidback farming and focused, principled determination impressed us then, and that pioneering sense of nature-first has propelled their wines – from sparkling through aromatics to the Burgundy varieties – firmly into Australia’s top tier. And they’re tied, crucially, to an acute sense of aesthetic, taste, structure and texture.
In other words, wines grown by lovers of wine.
And this is all hyper-relevant to Marco, who’s cut from the same cloth but with, of course, a new sensibility and a different vineyard and pocket of Tasmania to express.
Marco did a bachelor of Oenology and Viticulture at the University of Adelaide and graduated in 2018. During his time in Adelaide he worked for East End Cellars, fine-tuning his palate to quality wines of France and Italy. After uni, a strong affinity with Burgundy pushed him to find an internship in the Côte d’Or for the 2019 vintage. It was a phenomenal experience that further deepened his love of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the varieties on which his own project is built.
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.
This debut release features two 2018 wines from the family’s Lucille Vineyard, which sits on the banks of the Huon River in southern Tasmania. The Chardonnay is, says Gary Walsh of The Wine Front, “So stylish and lovely to drink, not forced. Beautiful.” And then “a terrific expression of Pinot Noir” that is “bright and rich at once with a stony cherry pip finish of excellent length”.
It is with great pleasure we present to you the small-batch debut of this second-generation Tasmanian grower. This is both a firm statement of intent from Marco, and a sure sign that there
are more great things to come.
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 biodynamic in conversion, and will be certified in 2021. Annual rainfall here is about 700mm, and harvest in the cool valley typically takes place around early April.
2018 Marco Lubiana Lucille Vineyard Chardonnay RRP $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 RRP $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