The close-planted Applejack Vineyard is in the upper Yarra Valley, where the higher altitude results in a cool, extended growing season, ideally suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Harvest here is 3-4 weeks later than in the central Yarra Valley. The basalt-based underlying volcanic soil and rock produce a characteristically fine yet extended, spicy and firm palate.
Grapes are hand-picked and treated in batches, with some batches cold-soaked. About 40% of grapes are fermented as whole bunches. After natural fermentation the wine is pressed to tight-grained, 228 litre, French barriques (about 20% new) for 10 months before blending and bottling without fining or filtration. The wine is typically aromatic, with good, strong colour and generous mouthfeel.
"Grey dirt, some altitude, comparatively. About 50% whole bunch, more or less. Applejack rising into iconic status for vineyards of the Yarra off the back of many great Giant Steps wines.
Sleek and fresh-feeling pinot noir, pepper and garrigue-spiked sour cherry scents and flavours, cool and refined feel, great length, high drinkability. A light crunch to tannins, sheath of which holds the wine tight and long in shape and form. This has some mojo, loaded with personality in its slender, transparent feel. This I like, great energy here."
94 points, The Wine Front (May 2019)
Yarra ValleyThe Yarra Valley was first planted by the Ryrie brothers who explored a way through the Snowy Mountains to the Yarra Valley, planting grapes in 1838 just three years after the foundation of Melbourne. A wine industry (developed by Swiss Settlers particularly Hubert de Castella and Baron Guillaume de Pury in the 1850s) thrived during the gold rush era and heyday of the 19th century. However, the end of the gold rush brought the wine industry into decline and it was not until the 1970’s that the modern wine industry started up again. The region is probably Australia’s best-known cool-climate area, yet it is really a patchwork of meso-climates. This varied topography creates an incredible set of variables. Vineyards are planted on elevations of 50 to 400m on varying aspects and management programmes. The more exposed sites are subject to severe spring frosts and winds. Overall, the area experiences a relatively high rainfall pattern and is known for its temperature extremes during ripening. Site selection is crucial, with the best vineyards often located where the original vines were once planted, generally on sandy clay loams and gravels. The Yarra Valley is well known for high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Blends with Shiraz increasingly garnering attention. Sparkling wine production is also extremely important, with many of Australia’s finest examples produced in the region.