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Garagiste

C’est Terre-ifique—The 2023 Flagship Wines
Garagiste

2023 is the gift that keeps on giving. Across the board, our Victorian growers have turned out some of their most exciting wines to date, and Barney Flanders is no different. “It’s some of the most intense fruit I’ve ever seen,” he told us, “There’s so much vitality and energy in these wines.” It was another long, cool and even season in Mornington, and while yields were very modest, the quality of the Terre fruit (make that the Merricks fruit writ large) is off the scale.

Barney’s flagship Terre wines are drawn from two specific parcels in Garagiste’s Merricks Grove vineyard. Terre de Feu—the Land of Fire—debuted in 2013 and remains the estate’s only red fermented with 100% bunches. Crafted from vines growing in ancient ferrosol soils, it is Garagiste’s most powerful and complex Pinot Noir. “There’s something about the Terre parcels,” Barney explains, “The vines grow differently, they behave differently, and the fruit is always a head above the rest.”

Terre Maritime, a rocking, chalky Chardonnay drawn from several rows of Chardonnay in the top corner of Merricks Grove, joined the family in 2017. It comes from a cooler part of the vineyard where the vines are rooted in brown soils rather than the more common reddish dirt of the area. True to its name, Maritime is the most salty and savoury expression of this impressive Mornington vineyard. In short, both wines are dripping in character and style and, this year, are very limited. Chop chop!

The Wines

Garagiste Terre Maritime Chardonnay 2023

Garagiste Terre Maritime Chardonnay 2023

The Terre Maritime is drawn from several rows of Chardonnay in the top corner of Merricks Grove. Barney Flanders has always felt this parcel results in a superb and unique Chardonnay—in this part of the vineyard, the 27-year-old vines are rooted in brown soils rather than the more common reddish dirt of the area. The plot sits at 90 metres and faces slightly east, offering the vines a cooler, more sheltered aspect. There’s therefore less vigour here than in the rest of the vineyard and the bunches are a touch smaller. As a result, the fruit from this parcel tends to make a wine that has real intensity without forgoing the finesse we associate with Garagiste Chardonnay.

In the low-yielding 2023 season, Barney only had one puncheon of Terre Chardonnay fruit to work with, so played things straight in the cellar. The fruit was pressed as whole bunches to a 500 litre puncheon for ferment, followed by a nine-month maturation on gross lees. What you get with Maritime is a frank expression of season and this small unique plot. It’s always salty, chalky, complex and long, and 2023 is a chip off the old block.

“Maritime all right. This is all salt spray and samphire, a little bit smoky and reductive, pear and lime, some jasmine and spiced pasty dough. It’s bright and tangy, orange and salted pistachio, ginger biscuits, zesty with a fine chalky texture, and a finish of excellent length. Maybe a little bit of Parmesan rind umami stuff, and custard apple richness. It’s an unusual style of Chardonnay, and maybe a little off-kilter, but gee it’s a compelling drink.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Garagiste Terre Maritime Chardonnay 2023
Garagiste Terre De Feu Pinot Noir 2023

Garagiste Terre De Feu Pinot Noir 2023

Cropped from a specific half-acre of the Merricks Grove vineyard, Terre de Feu (the Land of Fire) takes its name from the vein of pure red ferrosol soils of this plot. Many years ago, Barney noticed that the vines in this ironstone buttonhole were producing slightly smaller bunches, yielding wines of greater depth and concentration. Thus, in 2013 the decision was made to create this micro-cuvée. The power of the fruit enables a whole-bunch ferment, and Terre de Feu remains Garagiste’s only Pinot to be made this way.

Regardless of vintage conditions, be it warm or cool, if the quality is there for Terre, it’s always made with 100% bunches. In cooler years like 2023, Barney approaches the fruit with a gentler hand in the cellar to manage the bunch impact. The 2023 spent 25 days on skins, followed by 10 months in 25% new oak hogsheads. It’s a superb release; open, powerful, and highly perfumed with savoury, smoky complexity. Hat’s off!

“This is an overt, and kind of extreme version of Pinot Noir, though it works. It offers a lot of mezcal and jalapeño spice, but also carries no shortage of ripe cherry, pear and almond cake, salt, floral and sage-like perfume. The wine delivers plenty of spice and graphite grip, a sweet succulence to cherry and almost shortbread like richness, pimento, raspberry, and tangy orange amaro flavours. It’s a wild ride all right, but does have length and an irrepressible character. Wheatgerm in the aftertaste. Must be good for you? It’s a *lot*, though I really like it.”
94 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Garagiste Terre De Feu Pinot Noir 2023

“Any Australian producer who makes a high quality fist of the white wine variety aligoté is likely to be a producer of note, as does Garagiste, and so it’s no surprise that the quality of the chardonnays and pinot noirs on offer here are exceptional. Garagiste is a seriously good wine producer and, even better, deems value to be of high importance too.” Campbell Mattinson, Halliday Wine Companion Top 100 Wineries 2023

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