From the rolling elevations of our home at Rising Vineyard in the Christmas Hills, small parcels of exceptional fruit are selected for a new collection of wines. Inspired by the quiet achievements of Sticks, Rising is a new expression of the Yarra Valley.
Since 2000, Sticks has quietly gone about producing award winning cool climate wines reflective of the true regional characteristics and diversity of the Yarra Valley.
Fruit is blended from a large number of the best vineyards in the region with the renowned Rising Vineyard as our foundation and a winemaking team empowered to push the boundaries. Our mission is to produce varietals that express the very best of the region and our focus is Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
This wine is all sourced from Rising Vineyard in the rugged Christmas Hills on the western side of the Yarra Valley. It is grown in mudstone gravels and clay-loam over clay and shallow bedrock.
Semillon (95%) and Gewürztraminer (3%) were handpicked, destemmed and left on skins for 7 days. It was plunged a couple of times in the first two days and then left untouched for the remainder of this period. It was then pressed and put into old hogsheads and puncheons to complete fermentation. At the end of the ferment a small amount of Mendoza clone Chardonnay from the same vineyard was added (2%). It was left to mature till the end of winter then racked, lightly filtered and bottled.
Semillon (95%) Gewürztraminer (3%) Chardonnay (2%)
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Straw yellow
Aroma - Gently aromatic and layered nose, with aromas of lemon blossom, almond meal and acacia honey. Some higher notes of frangipani and vanilla are in the background.
Palate - Counterpoints of crispness and softness. Lanolin and citrus pith are layered over a powdery texture and gentle, subtle depth.
This is grown on a picturesque north-east slope at Rising Vineyard in the Christmas Hills. The low fertility of the gravel soils, altitude and generous sunshine of this area of the Yarra Valley combine to create the ideal place to grow Shiraz with a balance of restraint, generosity and complexity.
The Shiraz fruit was hand-harvested and sorted into a fermenter as 100% whole-bunches. Except for a small amount crushed by foot on the bottom of the fermenter, the bunches were left entire and unbroken. The fermenter was sealed up and left for two weeks without any sort of pumping over, plunging, or other interventions.
At the completion of this period it was pressed and transferred directly to old 500L French oak puncheons to complete fermentation and then left to mature until late Spring. It was blended and bottled without filtration at the start of December 2017.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Ruby/purple in colour.
Aroma - A densely packed aroma of bright berry fruits with threads of graphite, tar and spice running through it.
Palate - The medium-bodied palate has restraint and brings an edge of seriousness to the generous fruit.
Here’s a rare thing loose in South Australia: a soupy rich Shiraz syrup without gloop. Goodness me.
Somehow, it’s not all berries, but somewhere near a bortsch made with ripe sweet beets with a swirl of good fresh yoghurt or sour cream. The best one I had was on a Russian ferry that got loose in these austral waters: somebody in Vladivostok had welded her bow doors shut and filled the cargo hold with stifling cabins. The officers’ beets had been downstairs even further in some great fridge, ripening slowly since the revolution. Because we had no blazers, we could not not sit at the Captain’s table, but we were afforded his top vittles. I wish I had a bottle of this to send across in return.
Got off the track ... coming back to it, I reckon I can smell pomegranate ... that soft long velvety tannin ... yep, bortsch, a smoked strout on the side with a worried cornucopia of sprouts and capers; sourdough rye ...
Sourced from the Roundstone Vineyard in the narrow Steels Creek Valley on the western side of the Yarra Valley, this 100% Cabernet Franc is grown in classic Yarra Valley soils of clay-loam over a deep clay base.
Whole bunches were put into a fermenter and left to carbonic macerate for 10 days without any crushing, plunging or pumping over. It was then gently pressed to a small tank, the ferment was allowed to complete, then the wine was racked to a single old puncheon (500L) for maturation without sulphur dioxide for 5 months, until the end of winter.
The wine was then racked from barrel, received a small amount of sulphur dioxide and was bottled without filtration.
100% Cabernet Franc
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Deep pink colour.
Aroma - Crushed strawberries, kirsch, raspberry leaf and bay. With complex notes of turned earth, brambles and cured meats woven through the fruit elements.
Palate - Soft and comforting, with good detail and a delicate light structure. Sweet fruit sitting on the forest floor.
The Pinot Noir is grown at two vineyards; Rising Vineyard and Roundstone Vineyard. Both of these properties have classic Yarra Valley duplex soils. Roundstone has a deeper layer of rich loam and brings a generosity of fruit and plushness to the wine, whilst Rising is gravelly and less fertile providing more structure and firmness.
The parcel harvested from the Roundstone Vineyard was destemmed, aiming for maximum whole-berries and left for a natural fermentation. Each morning it was hand plunged but otherwise left alone. The crop from Rising was placed into the fermenter as whole-bunches and the berries were gradually broken up over the course of a couple of weeks for a gentle ferment at moderate temperatures.
The two vineyards were pressed and matured separately, each in French oak, on lees and without sulphur dioxide. At the end of winter the wine was blended, a small amount of sulphur dioxide added and the wine was returned to barrels for a further three months maturation. It was bottled following a light filtration at the beginning of summer 2017.
100% Pinot Noir
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Ruby in colour.
Aroma - The nose is a complex but compact package of berries and blood plum, five-spice and undergrowth which unwinds to be more expressive with a short exposure to air.
Palate - The finely balanced palate has a firm but gentle structure with a medium body.
This baby’s real deep and dry after a good airing: I prefer it with these ravens in its dark piny boughs.
That’ll be some of the colour of its smell. It gets a wee bit sooty, which is also cool. Because below those prickly crarky topnotes come dark juniper and blackcurrant, even that whiff of tiny grape currants. Real deep framboise and crème de cassis pressings. Yum.
The palate’s sinuous and juicy. The velvety tannins here are more active than the acids, until way back in the very end when they rise like a rapier.
This is no royalty among Burgundies: it’s more of a country type with birds in its hair. At least it’s had a look around the court to see what all the princes are wearing.
From the Roundstone Vineyard in the narrow Steels Creek Valley on the western side of the Yarra Valley, this 100% Gamay is grown in classic Yarra Valley soils of clay-loam over a deep clay base on the region’s most mature Gamay vines.
Approximately 20% of the whole bunches were put into an open fermenter and crushed by foot. The remainder of the whole bunches were placed on top without crushing, the fermenter was sealed, and it was left for a 10 day maceration without any further crushing, pumping over or plunging. At the end of this period it was pressed and transferred directly to old puncheons to complete its fermentation, then left to mature without sulphur dioxide until the end of winter, approximately 5 months. The barrels were then racked and sulphured and the wine was lightly filtered prior to bottling.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Bright ruby.
Aroma - Expressive nose of cherries, fistfuls of red berries, spices, poached pear, rhubarb, and dried herbs.
Palate - Medium bodied and whilst delicate it has some firmness, giving structure and order to the abundant and juicy fruit flavours.
Here’s a rare Australian go at the juicy indigo Gamay of Beaujolais. The Mornington Peninsula’s Eldridge has had some success with the same tricky, but rewarding, if frivolous beast.
Ripe heady raspberry and dark strawberry well away, cheeky and unabashed. It’s a swoony, swirling experience seasoned with dark gunbarrel anthocyanins from the skins: it’s like juniper with its scented hint at tannins to follow.
This is dead honest wine of no obvious sophistry: a comforting drink with no pretention but a really lush and luxurious bed of squishy flavour.
Eventually those neat little tannins creep in, tidying up your baby dribbles with its corrective pucker.
I want an aged crumbly Blue Wensleydale - with all its natural acid - on an oatcake, please
It’s about this time of year that I start waffling on about ‘autumnal wines’. For me, at least, it’s about characters in a wine that seem to align with the seasons. For this time of year, when it seems that the earth us drawing breath to store energy for the cooler months, those characters fall in the earthen category: those of leaf litter, damp earth, game and mushroom notes. Pinot Noir fits this bill as does this little wine made from Gamay.
It gladdens my heart to see new Gamay wines appear on Australian wine store shelves. It is a variety that, as we mature as a wine growing nation, seems to fit in well with the certain soils and climatic conditions prevalent in some wine regions and its light, airy gait certainly pairs well with the cuisine we enjoy eating. Plus it can take a bit of a chill in the fridge on those warmer days and that will always score bonus points with this particular wine hack.
It is produced by Tom Belford in the Yarra Valley. I’ve written about this cat before. He is of Bobar Wines fame, where he forged a reputation for producing food-friendly delicious wines. Well he’s at it again with his new project Rising Wines.
Light purple/red in colour with pure, bright aromas of red cherry, cranberry, macerated raspberry fruits, spice, forest floor and a light wash of Amaro herbs. Sprightly and spacious on the palate with great clarity, purity and a sense of juiciness and slinky allure hat beckons the drinker towards a second glass. It’s a cracker, as is the Chardonnay from the same range.
The Chardonnay is farmed at two vineyards. The first is the Upper Ngumby vineyard near Yarra Glen at the base of Christmas Hills. The south-east aspect and grey-loam soils of this location bring a balance of poise and power to the wine. The second vineyard is Rising Vineyard, deep within the Christmas Hills. The gravelly soil of this vineyard lends minerality and restraint to the wine.
The grapes were hand-picked and the entire, uncrushed bunches were pressed and the juice transferred to French oak barrels for natural fermentation. The Rising Vineyard component of this wine was allowed to complete malolactic fermentation and there was a small amount of barrel stirring to the Upper Ngumby parcel. The two wines were aged on lees in barrel until late spring, about 9 months in total, then blended, filtered and bottled at the beginning of summer 2017
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Straw yellow in colour.
Aroma - The nose is a neat package of white stone fruit, preserved lemon, biscuit and spring flower garden.
Palate - Restraint and power are the hallmarks of the palate with some nectar richness in the wine and a long crystalline finish.
Rising Wines is a new Yarra Valley outfit Sticks winemaker Tom Bedford seems to have split off as a sort of premium small batch showcase of wilder beauties.
I’ve just escaped the supermarket which is a scarce enough misadventure for a hermit and attempted salving some of this freak heat with a couple Asahi 3.5s, whose hoppy tannin burrs the tongue and sets it looking for fats so maybe I’m over-reacting to this calming Chardonnay unction action.
Umami. Mother’s milk. Fatty: the first acids to hit the newborn tongue. Those fatty acids you find around isolvaleric aromas, which are often presignallers for calming human pheromones which then don’t come. You need a real human mother to get real pheromones.
But the very anticipation of them often leaves a frisson if not your actual fru-fru - you get these subliminal precursor signals sometimes as sidelines of secondary, or malo-lactic ferment, when bacteria, not yeast, convert the metallic natural grape acid, malic, to lactic, the softer acid of milk.
All that - with oak-smoked bacon or cashews or something in the pan - wraps the aroma around me, by which time the acid of the end of the lovely thing starts to build. Which it does smooth and slow, drawing real fine chalky tannin with it. This is one fine reassuring wine.
The grapes for this wine were machine harvested during the evening from two vineyards in Yarra Glen and Healesville then loaded directly into the press. The cloudy juice was racked within 24 hours and inoculated with selected yeast. Approximately 5% of the wine was fermented in old oak. The combination of cloudy juice and a small barrel fermented portion adds richness and texture to the palate. The wine was then managed on lees for approximately 5 months prior to blending and preparation for bottle.
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Pale straw with lime hues.
Aromas of stone fruit, citrus and jasmine with underlying floral complexity.
Textured entry gives way to a precise, lively palate with flavours of grapefruit, white stone fruit, currant leaf and snow pea.
Hand harvested fruit from Coldstream, and machine harvested fruit from Seville went into this wine. The fruit was loaded directly into the press with no additions for overnight settling, before ‘hard’ racking the cloudy juice off to tank for wild ferment. The wine was then managed on lees, with some lees stirring, for between 5 and 7 months post fermentation and then prepared for bottling.
100% Pinot Grigio
Yarra Valley, Victoria
White gold with a green tinge.
Attractive white floral aromas with nashi pear, apple and a hint of beeswax.
Crisp yet generously textured with crunchy nashi pear, white stone fruits, spice and a cleansing long finish.
This wine is comprised of a variety of fruit parcels and a number of different clones, sourced predominantly from Upper Ngumby vineyards located on the foothills of the Christmas Hills range, and Rising Vineyard located in a high valley in the Christmas Hills. A mix of hand and machine harvested fruit was used, all of which was loaded directly into the press. The juice was coarse settled and racked to a combination of tanks, and 300L and 500L French oak barrels for ferment. Both selected yeast and wild yeast ferments were conducted, with a quarter of the wine going through the secondary malolactic fermentation. The solids included in fermentation contributed complexity and savoury notes on the palate. All wine was matured on lees with some limited stirring. The blend was assembled and prepared for bottling after approximately 9 months maturation..
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Pale yellow with flecks of green.
The nose is perfumed; white flowers, jasmine, stone fruit, candied melon and citrus rind aromas are abundant. Layers of subtle grilled nut and biscuit notes give depth and interest.
The palate is textured, crisp and flavoursome.
This wine is made from fruit grown in the Dixons Creek, Yarra Glen and Coldstream sub-regions of the Yarra Valley which provide rich fruit and generosity, a vineyard in the cool Yarra Junction area which brings precision and fine body to the wine, and Rising Vineyard in the Christmas Hills, a gravelly elevated farm which lends firm structure and complexity. Each vineyard is handled separately to allow them to express themselves fully. A variety of winemaking techniques are employed from open fermenters and high temperatures to give complexity, depth and power, to cooler ferments in closed fermenters to maintain freshness and fruitiness. After approximately 10 months maturation in barrels and tanks, the wine was blended, lightly filtered and bottled. We seek purity, expressive fruit and subtle complexity in the Sticks Pinot Noir.
100% Pinot Noir
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Deep ruby red colour.
A nose that is rich in red and black fruits; plums, strawberry and raspberries, some sappy green threads woven through and notes of warm spices.
The palate is medium bodied. The flavours are fresh and pure and it finishes long, light and clean.
2017 was an excellent growing season in the Yarra Valley. Fruit for this wine was machine harvested from Yarra Glen. The fruit was destemmed and crushed into static fermenters and inoculated straight away at low rates to promote a slow start fermentation slowly. One tank remained ‘on skins’ for a month post ferment. Post pressing, wines were racked exclusively to 300L French oak for secondary, malolactic fermentation (MLF). After maturation for 15 months, the naturally settled wines were then racked and blended in preparation for bottling.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Colour - Bright crimson red with purple hues.
Aroma - Classic nose of cassis, plum, blackcurrant, pepper and earthy notes.
Palate - Pure plum and cassis flavours are supported by notes of bramble, chocolate and cigar box.
Cellaring - Drinking beautifully now, it will reward cellaring beyond 2020.
From his formative years at Yarra Ridge Winery through to notable stints at Curly Flat and De Bortoli Wines, Tom has amassed the diverse range of skills required to make exceptional premium wines.
A 15 month sojourn in France, dividing his time between Champagne, Beaujolais, Provence, Cahors and Sauternes, allowed Tom to finesse those skills and develop a keen interest in alternative wine varieties.
In late 2008 Tom returned to the Yarra Valley and the winemaking team at Sticks. Now he heads the team and brings with him the ethos that by intervening less the resulting wines are more expressive and authentic. His intimate knowledge of the picturesque region and unwavering focus on sub-regional expression and fruit purity are key in achieving his mission for Sticks; to produce varietals that express the very best of the region.
Rising Vineyard is located in the Christmas Hills sub-region of the Yarra Valley. The vines at Rising have long produced wines of note, respected and revered for their quality and expression of terroir.
High altitude and Silurian mudstone rubble deliver power and minerality to the wines, giving this pocket of the Yarra Valley a personality all its own.
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