There is quite a buzz around the Macedon Ranges region being the premier wine growing region in Australia for pinot noir. Two first class producers are really responsible for this reputation – Curly Flat and Bindi. There are a number of other small producers but none come close to reaching the stature or consistently produce wines of the quality of the Curly Flat or Bindi.
Driving around the Macedon Ranges recently I was struck by the variation in landscape. The region comprises part of the Great Dividing Range and Central Victorian Highlands. The Great Dividing Range dividing the region into two parts and hence contributing to the diversity. The geology and soils are often characterised as volcanic but this is only part of the story as the volcanics sit on underlying ancient slates which form part of the gold bearing Victorian slate belt consisting of black slates, mudstones, siltstones and quartzite. The diverse geology and landscape mean that the area is by no means consistent in its ability to grow quality pinot noir. The region does, however, have a major natural asset in its climate. The area is “Cool Climate” with cool winters and temperature summations during the growing season varying from 1150 to 1300 degree days. This means it is classified as Region 1 on the ‘Amerine-Winkler’ climatic classification index and, therefore, ideal for the growing of pinot noir. This index is explained simply in an article by Sally Easton MW (http://www.winewisdom.com/articles/facts-and-figures/winklers-climate-regions/). The region is also relatively dry which lends itself to low disease pressure and opportunity of organic and biodynamic production.
While not wanting to take away from the terroir of either Bindi or Curly Flat, I think that the investment they have made in viticulture and gentle wine making have been instrumental in producing outstanding wine. My next post will look closer at Curly Flat and some of their fine pinots.