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Toolangi

There’s Something About Toolangi: The Top-tier Wines from one of the Yarra’s Great Vineyards
Toolangi

What is it they say—behind every great winemaker, there is a great viticulturist? The recent return of seasoned viticulturist John Evans marks another leap forward for Toolangi and its wines. Evans was a vital member of the team that designed and planted the Dixons Creek vineyard in 1995. He knows the Yarra like the back of his hand and how to get the best from the Toolangi vineyard. With Evans back on the tiller and Kaspar Hermann’s single-mindedness in the cellar, is it any wonder Toolangi wines have never looked better?

Every great vineyard has its sweet spot, and Toolangi’s Block wines are the definitive expressions of this outstanding site. Of the three siblings, Toolangi’s world-class, chiselled F Block Chardonnay has shone the brightest, though today, the Pinot Noir and Shiraz are also firing with intensity and focus. Cropped from just a handful of rows, these two expressive reds are made in tiny quantities and only in exceptional years. Hermann’s progression with Pinot Noir from this vineyard has been especially impressive. “The MO for Pinot is transparency,” he told us. “We’re trying to let the place shine.” To that end, he uses a portion of whole bunches to add layers of tannin and textural appeal to the block’s punchy, spicy fruit.

When it comes to Shiraz, our ex-Mount Mary man draws his inspiration from this variety’s star performers—including Luke Lambert, with whom he’s had many a chinwag about how to draw the best out of Yarra Valley Shiraz. Again, the fruit is everything, so you won’t find new oak or winemaking artifice; just evocative, sinewy tannin and waves of seductive, savoury flavour. It all adds up to a classy and outstanding trio of top-drawer Yarra Valley.

 

Get in touch with your rep if you'd like to taste, or contact customer service on 1300 610 919 or orders@bibendum.com.au

The Wines

Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2022

Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2022

Toolangi’s F Block is a one-hectare plot perched on the highest, easternmost sector of the 11-hectare Dixon’s Creek vineyard. Nestled in the corner, within touching distance of the Toolangi State Forest to the northeast and in the afternoon shadow of a large hill to the south, it’s a well-sheltered plot. This position helps preserve the high levels of natural acidity critical to maintaining balance from a site famed for powerful flavour. The soils are shallow and rocky, with more white clay than lower down, which Kaspar Hermann credits with the wine’s sculpted, chalky personality. Yields are always low, rarely providing more than seven or eight barrels, and in this poor flowering year, Hermann had enough for just five. The 19-year-old vines are Gingin clone and produce thick-skinned, full-throated fruit with plenty of spicy nuance and phenolic structure.

F Block Chardonnay is Hermann’s favourite wine to make; he even prunes the block himself. Pressed as whole bunches to oak (20%) for fermentation with full solids, the wine underwent partial malolactic conversion (60%) and matured for nine months on lees in barrel before bottling. Once again, Hermann has struck an exciting balance between depth, texture and finesse. It’s a wonderfully aromatic Chardonnay, evoking floral-accented stone fruits, wispy reduction and a warming spice mix. The palate is fleshy and powerfully structured with a seam of salty minerals and citrus zest on the long, coiled, chalky finish. This is another formidable release for Kaspar & Co.

“It’s a richer style, with some oatmeal savoury flavours, a viscous and glossy feel, but has bright well-integrated acidity. There’s some cinnamon and pastry dough, nectarine and a little spice, some chalkiness to texture, with a smooth finish of excellent length. It’s a full Chardonnay experience, but also shows such fine balance. I like this a lot.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2022
Toolangi E Block Pinot Noir 2021

Toolangi E Block Pinot Noir 2021

E Block Pinot Noir is sourced from just 10 rows of 20-year-old MV6 clone vines identified as growing the property’s most impressive and expressive Pinot. These rows are a direct continuation of the Paul’s Lane parcel to the east, so Kaspar Hermann is convinced something unique is happening beneath the surface. Highlighting the difference, pruning and canopy management are more stringent, and the rows see more cultivation to promote health and moisture retention in the soils. The block yields a paltry 1.5 to 2 tonnes of fruit—and that’s in a good year.

This wine is only produced in exceptional years. The cool, long, classic conditions in 2021 produced fragrant, bright-flavoured fruit with plenty of natural acidity. To build aromatic complexity and layers of tannin, Hermann included 50% bunches in the ferment. The wine matured in French oak (25% new) for nine months before bottling. Spice and fresh acidity are hallmarks of the Dixon’s Creek site, and 2021 E Block Pinot Noir has these traits in spades.  This is a vibrant, top-class Pinot with layers of spice and earth and a full, silky palate balanced by chalky tannin and a snappy, mineral-flecked finish. Don’t be afraid to decant and serve this in a big Burgundy glass—it’s an impressive wine that will evolve with air and time.

Toolangi E Block Pinot Noir 2021
Toolangi D Block Shiraz 2021

Toolangi D Block Shiraz 2021

After years of (arguably) living in the shadow of the Pinot, Toolangi’s Shiraz is starting to flex its muscles. The grapes are cultivated and harvested with freshness to the fore, and the winemaking has refocused along the same lines. In short, with emphasis on elegance, balance and sustained purity, Toolangi’s Shiraz has never tasted better. None of this should be a surprise; the Yarra has long been capable of producing outstanding Syrah.

The D Block’s north-south orientation ensures good sun exposure for this parcel of 25-year-old vines on silty clay-loam soil. The clonal material here is PT23 Shiraz—an old Australian clone selected from descendants of the 1832 Busby cuttings—on Paulson rootstock. Hermann shies away from new oak with his Shiraz, relying instead on the inherently spicy nature of the fruit and judicious use of bunches in the ferment to bring aromatic and structural complexity. He then raises the wine in large, seasoned foudres, favouring a more reductive environment to help compress tannins and build a “spring through the core of the wine”. In the slightly cooler conditions of 2021, 15% bunches were used, and the wine matured for 10 months before bottling.

At its best, Yarra Valley Shiraz is a wonderful thing. This is a piquant, bunchy and powerfully flavoured example with sappy dark berries, delicious pepper spice and a richly weighted mid-palate balanced by driving acidity and wonderfully integrated tannins.

“A distinctly spicy, meaty, nutty and savoury style, but also offers some quiet perfume, fresh blackberry and iodine. It’s medium-bodied, a little bit sappy, but also kind of silky too, with fine-grained silty tannin, and a lively spicy dry finish of excellent length. You have to like them on the more zippy spicy/savoury side, granted, but a stylish wine all up.”
94 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Toolangi D Block Shiraz 2021

“A producer that demonstrates a deep commitment to terroir in producing Australia’s finest and most distinctive wines.” Nick Stock, Good Wine Guide



“Toolangi are pretty darn ace at chardonnay.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front

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