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Bannockburn

Surfing the Crest of a Wave: The Limited New-Release Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Bannockburn
Between celebrated slam dunks and fadeaways, basketball legend Michael Jordan once said: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Much has been made of this iconic vineyard’s evolution since Matt Holmes arrived in 2015. As head winemaker, Holmes has inevitably become the focal point of Bannockburn’s continued rise and rise. Yet, he’ll be the first to tell you that his influence is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Between the estate’s Jedi soil man, Lucas Grigsby, who’s been at the estate for almost four decades, and his off-sider Doug Clarke, Bannockburn’s viticulturists boast over 50 years of experience working the same plot of land. “These guys give it their all in the vineyard, and it’s so beneficial to have such an amazing blend of experience,” Matt told us. Making up the Fab Four, two young musketeers, Leo Coleman and Tom Deahl, have joined the Bannockburn family full-time, allowing Grigsby and Clarke time to work on Bannockburn’s soil and vine health while improving the site's overall biodiversity. “Viticulture is having your eyes open, observing, considering and making decisions,” says Holmes. “I see a better balance in the vineyard. It’s as good a team here as I can recall.”

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. For Holmes, this well-oiled team’s understanding of the site played an outsized role in the success of its 2023 releases. Conditions were cool and wet, resulting in uneven ripening and dramatic crop losses of up to 60%. Without the experience and attention to detail of Bannockburn’s full-time crew, it’s debatable whether even Holmes would have been able to craft such exceptional wines from this complex season.

With the focus squarely on quality, Holmes continued his practice of declassifying the estate’s iconic close-planted blocks when it makes sense. This year, the 2023 Chardonnay benefits from the Grigsby parcel, while the Pinot Noir welcomes the harvest from De La Terre. Both wines deftly combine Bannockburn’s classic signature of power and finesse with that inherent site-driven savoury-mineral quality that makes these wines unique. With such limited quantities this year, we encourage buyers to act first and ask questions later!

The Wines

Bannockburn Chardonnay 2023

Bannockburn Chardonnay 2023

Bannockburn’s Chardonnay has a track record most Victorian producers would give their eye teeth for. The quality and style can be traced back to the estate’s exceptional, organically farmed sites; the Olive Tree Hill Vineyard was planted in 1976 and abuts the S.R.H parcel, while the Winery Block was planted in 1981. Both lie on volcanic soils over limestone clays with an average vine age of around 35 years. This year’s estate Chardonnay also includes fruit from Stuart Block (1997) and Kelly Lane Vineyard (2016). Due to the minuscule yields in 2023, the Bannockburn team could not make a Grigsby Chardonnay, so fruit from this exceptional, close-planted block was also included in this wine, with all that entails.

As is the norm, the fruit was pressed as whole bunches and wild fermented in a mixture of French hogsheads and puncheons (20% new). This year, 70% of the blend went through malolactic conversion, and the wine spent 10 months maturing on lees with no stirring. Campbell Mattinson’s note below is spot on―this is a vivid, full-throttle, substantive Chardonnay, saturated in flavour with crystalline cut, fleshy richness and incredible length. A stone-cold stunner.

“There’s ample flavour and texture here but the length of this wine is wow. It tastes of grilled peaches, green pineapple, straw, herbs and cedarwood. There’s real flavour here, and a creaminess to the texture, but there’s a real cut to the wine as well. It arguably needs a bit of time to soften. It thrusts its way through the finish, drawing flavour along with it. In 15 year’s time people will be pulling well-cleared bottles of this out and marvelling at how youthful it seems.”
94+ points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Bannockburn Chardonnay 2023
Bannockburn Chardonnay 2023 (1500mL)

Bannockburn Chardonnay 2023 (1500mL)

Bannockburn’s Chardonnay has a track record most Victorian producers would give their eye teeth for. The quality and style can be traced back to the estate’s exceptional, organically farmed sites; the Olive Tree Hill Vineyard was planted in 1976 and abuts the S.R.H parcel, while the Winery Block was planted in 1981. Both lie on volcanic soils over limestone clays with an average vine age of around 35 years. This year’s estate Chardonnay also includes fruit from Stuart Block (1997) and Kelly Lane Vineyard (2016). Due to the minuscule yields in 2023, the Bannockburn team could not make a Grigsby Chardonnay, so fruit from this exceptional, close-planted block was also included in this wine, with all that entails.

As is the norm, the fruit was pressed as whole bunches and wild fermented in a mixture of French hogsheads and puncheons (20% new). This year, 70% of the blend went through malolactic conversion, and the wine spent 10 months maturing on lees with no stirring. Campbell Mattinson’s note below is spot on―this is a vivid, full-throttle, substantive Chardonnay, saturated in flavour with crystalline cut, fleshy richness and incredible length. A stone-cold stunner.

“There’s ample flavour and texture here but the length of this wine is wow. It tastes of grilled peaches, green pineapple, straw, herbs and cedarwood. There’s real flavour here, and a creaminess to the texture, but there’s a real cut to the wine as well. It arguably needs a bit of time to soften. It thrusts its way through the finish, drawing flavour along with it. In 15 year’s time people will be pulling well-cleared bottles of this out and marvelling at how youthful it seems.”
94+ points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Bannockburn Chardonnay 2023 (1500mL)
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2023

Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2023

This excellent release is an amalgamation of Bannockburn’s entire spectrum of vineyards. The 2023 includes fruit from Olive Tree Hill, planted in 1976, 10 Rows (1991), Stuart Block (1997) and Anns Block (2004). As with the Chardonnay, 2023’s paltry yields meant the team could not make De La Terre Pinot Noir, so fruit from that close-planted block was included in this blend. All the sites lie in volcanic loam and dark clay over a limestone base and are planted to various clones—mainly MV6 with a smattering of the Dijon (or Bernard) clones. The blocks fermented separately with approximately 20% bunches included and a small portion of carbonic maceration. After 7 to 10 days, the wine was pressed to hogsheads and puncheons (20% new) for 10 months’ maturation.

The dramatically reduced crop (down 50% on the already low-yielding 2022 vintage), coupled with the top quality in the glass, means this wine will be sold out in no time. It’s open for business from the word go, pure-fruited and pretty, with Bannockburn’s signature savouriness throughout. Just singing. 

“This is excellent. Fine, tight, intricate, wild and precise at once. Not exactly sure how they do that but here it is, they have. Cherries, meat, soy, strawberries, twiggy spice, some volatility, a fine web of tannin, some beet characters, some undergrowth. So much going on within an overall impression of control. Mightily impressed.”
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
“A rather forward developed colour, and the nose is likewise, with savoury developed complexities of dried herbs and dry stems overlying mellow fruit and oak-derived nuances. It's very savoury and utterly delicious, with foresty/sousbois characters dominant. A very distinctive and idiosyncratic style that is a delight to drink.”
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2023
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2023 (1500ml)

Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2023 (1500ml)

This excellent release is an amalgamation of Bannockburn’s entire spectrum of vineyards. The 2023 includes fruit from Olive Tree Hill, planted in 1976, 10 Rows (1991), Stuart Block (1997) and Anns Block (2004). As with the Chardonnay, 2023’s paltry yields meant the team could not make De La Terre Pinot Noir, so fruit from that close-planted block was included in this blend. All the sites lie in volcanic loam and dark clay over a limestone base and are planted to various clones—mainly MV6 with a smattering of the Dijon (or Bernard) clones. The blocks fermented separately with approximately 20% bunches included and a small portion of carbonic maceration. After 7 to 10 days, the wine was pressed to hogsheads and puncheons (20% new) for 10 months’ maturation. 

The dramatically reduced crop (down 50% on the already low-yielding 2022 vintage), coupled with the top quality in the glass, means this wine will be sold out in no time. It’s open for business from the word go, pure-fruited and pretty, with Bannockburn’s signature savouriness throughout. Just singing. 

“This is excellent. Fine, tight, intricate, wild and precise at once. Not exactly sure how they do that but here it is, they have. Cherries, meat, soy, strawberries, twiggy spice, some volatility, a fine web of tannin, some beet characters, some undergrowth. So much going on within an overall impression of control. Mightily impressed.”
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
“A rather forward developed colour, and the nose is likewise, with savoury developed complexities of dried herbs and dry stems overlying mellow fruit and oak-derived nuances. It's very savoury and utterly delicious, with foresty/sousbois characters dominant. A very distinctive and idiosyncratic style that is a delight to drink.”
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2023 (1500ml)

“Bannockburn has been a giant of the Geelong region for roughly four decades, but over the past few years it has got its house back in the best of order and has put out a stunning array of wines. It’s full steam ahead at Bannockburn again.” Campbell Mattinson, Wine Companion Top 100 Wineries 2023

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