Refining nature is what it’s all about at Stefano Lubiana. During the course of 30 years since setting themselves up on the banks of the Derwent River, Steve and Monique have never wavered in their quest for ever higher quality. They’ve continued to raise the bar through painstaking organic viticulture and cutting-edge cellar technology and practices.
These single-block Pinot Noir wines are the prime example of their microscopic attention in the vineyard; this is the culmination of three decades of devotion. 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.
All vineyard operations are carried out by hand, cane pruning, cane thinning, crop thinning and Harvest. Only a small amount of these wines is made each year – between three to five barrels depending on the vintage. 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.
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
2017 Stefano Lubiana Ruscello Pinot Noir RRP $99
An extraordinary New World Pinot, built around a fine weave of tannin that elbows the juicy fruit into a savoury mould, while allowing it to flow over the seams. Just enough. Not too much. Plenty of cherry to red berry crunch, nevertheless. Slight enough to coax one in for another glass, while building a strong case for the wine’s ageability. A superb touch is manifest in the use of whole bunch, oak and extraction. This is thoroughly Burgundian. 96 points. Ned Goodwin, Halliday Wine Magazine 2020
Il Giardino means “the garden” in Italian. This block is where vegetables, mainly brassicas, were grown when we first purchased the property. Masses of mustard grows wild in these soils, offering plenty of pollen for the bees we keep. In return, they help the vines prosper under biodynamic management. This soil is part Ruscello and part La Roccia in its make-up, the main difference being the transfer of a tighter acid structure from the soil to the fruit. Of the three blocks, this is the biggest – three hectares – of which just three rows are chosen to supply grapes to Il Giardino. It is located just next to the La Roccia block but has a more northerly aspect and sits at a similar elevation. The soil is more variable but has heavier silty black clay topsoil over clay. There is some gravel in the topsoil but it’s a heavier soil than Ruscello and has some limestone influence. – Steve & Monique Lubiana
2017 Stefano Lubiana Il Giardino Pinot Noir RRP $99
A Pinot built around a twine of whole cluster clove and cardamon-clad tannin, racing along a verdant undercarriage of cool climate acidity and biodynamic energy. Spiky and refreshing. Shins and elbows, but boy will this grow. Just give it time! This is Pinot for those who appreciate texture, while dwelling on intrigue. Lots of stuffing, poise and immense potential. 96 points. Ned Goodwin, Halliday Wine Magazine 2020
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, necessitating 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 is a big rock shelf in the middle of the block, whence it derives its name. – Steve & Monique Lubiana
2017 Stefano Lubiana La Roccia Pinot Noir RRP $99
This is the diplomat of this triumvirate and damn, holy it is. Mid-weight, crunchy and melding the red berry sass of the Ruscello plot with the herbal spine of the Il Giardino and its whole-cluster drive. This is infinitely long, etched with tannin, extract and sex appeal. Refined. Gorgeous. Length pushes the score. These single-plot Pinots are among the finest of the country, demanding serious attention. 97 points. Ned Goodwin, Halliday Wine Magazine 2020