GARAGISTE LE STAGIAIRE CHARDONNAY 2014
"Barnaby Flanders is committed to the keep-it-simple principle, but it has a lengthy history. While working front-of-house for Melbourne wine restaurants, he began the distance Wine Science Degree course at Charles Sturt University, graduating in 1999. Winemaking followed with De Bortoli, Martin Williams MW (both Yarra Valley) and Moorooduc Estate (Mornington Peninsula), interleaved with Le Meridien (Trento, Italy), Rhys Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mountains, California) and four vintages (2005-08) with Domaine Michel and Stephane Ogier (Cote Rotie, France).
Hemisphere-hopping led to the establishment of Garagiste in 2006 with chardonnay and pinot noir from the (now) leased Merricks Grove. The Mornington Peninsula was the exclusive choice of region, and the business plan specified no ownership of either vineyards or winery. The focus was on chardonnay and pinot noir made in leased space within a winery.
The wines are mostly made the same way. The grapes are hand-sorted twice, in the vineyard and again in the winery on a sorting table; all are fermented with wild yeast, none fined nor filtered. MV6 is the clone of choice for pinot noir, P58 for chardonnay. Gentle cap management for pinot noir, then maturation in French hogsheads. Chardonnay is fermented and matured in French puncheons. Most spend 10 months in oak. The variables are the percentage of whole bunches, zero to 100 per cent for pinot, and sometimes chardonnay. Time on skins for pinot is (mainly) 19-22 days; the percentage of new oak varies from 10 to 50 per cent.
The arrival of business (and executive) partner Cam Marshall in 2010 saw the introduction of a second line of wines under the Le Stagiaire label, selling for $30 (Garagiste is $45-70) and made in larger volumes. The total for Garagiste is 600-700 dozen, and Le Stagiaire 1000-1200 dozen. All the wines are of exceptional quality.
2015 Garagiste Le Stagiaire Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay
Usual Stagiaire vinification, except less new oak, nine months on lees. A vibrantly fresh, convincing chardonnay with a bit of left field whole bunch winemaking, and (it would seem) no mlf; the fruit spectrum is all in the ripe zone, grapefruit and white peach contesting bragging rights, oak an aid, not an end. 13% alc, screwcap. 97 points, drink to 2026, $30
2014 Garagiste Merricks Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
Usual winemaking protocol, except destemmed by gravity. A pinot of great power and authority that has absorbed the new oak and used the tannins to its advantage; layers of blood and satsuma plum and other purple fruits in abundance. 13.5% alc, screwcap. 96 points, drink to 2026, $45
2015 Garagiste Le Stagiaire Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
MV6, destemmed and crushed, wild-fermented in open fermenters, 22 days on skins, 10 months maturation in French oak (10% new). Youthful colour; the fragrant bouquet filled with plum blossom and spice, the palate taking up the theme with enthusiasm; excellent length and a fresh, crisp finish. 13.5% alc, screwcap. 95 points, drink to 2027, $30."