We love to notice and mark the changing of seasons, the sighting of a new birds' nest, or our unceasing wonder at the seamless enrichment that biodynamic viticulture provides our pristine environment. Working in rhythm with nature ensures we're vigilant in the vineyard, and follow that attention to detail through to the winery and the table. As fifth and sixth generation winegrowers, we value family, tradition and progression, and we hope our stories strike a chord with you – hopefully so much that we're lucky enough to one day hear yours.
Steve and Monique Lubiana.
25th December 2021
Wow! Christmas Day and have just had a Sasso 2013 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Both fantastic and wine of the day. But the Pinot Noir was the wine of the day - beating chassagne Montrachet. Few picked it as burgundy. Want to let you know that this is a absolutely fantastic wine. Just wish I had more (got the next few years…) Merry Christmas Paul
1st December 2021
I thought you might be interested to know I had a Champagne tasting with friends and the Stefano Lubiana Brut Reserve sparkling came first.
I do the event every year with about 10 girlfriends, we have a range of champagnes and sparklings we taste. We always have an expensive bottle and then a few well known french plus some cheaper unknown sparklings. The expensive bottle this time was XXXX.
It's a blind tasting so no one knows what sparkling they are tasting, my partner determines the order, so I don't know what I am tasting as well. We haven't tried Stefano Lubiana Sparkling in the tasting before, so it was the first time.... and it came first.
Although I live in Melbourne, I am a Tassie girl, so happy that your sparkling did so well. My friends have all now stocked up on Stefano Lubiana Brut for Christmas.
Last time we did it with XXXX, it did quite well, so interesting it didn't do well this time.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this, I know you already know your wines are amazing, but thought you might be interested in our results.
note: list of 10 wines supplied and xxxx is a champage with a price tag of $330.
The spring of 2021 has been a ‘la Nina’ or wetter than average season so far.
Healthy growth has appeared everywhere. Whilst it has been cool so far this spring, the forecast for later this week, is for warmer weather. This will produce an even greater explosion of growth setting up an effective canopy to ripen fruit over a long growing season.
The cover crops are still in situ. Their top 30% have been mowed once. The benefit of mowing encourages and stimulates the cover crop roots to push down further into the soil, allowing more air and nutrients to follow. This then produces excellent conditions for the microbes that provide nitrogen to the vine. Vines that are afforded excellent nutrition produces the greatest wines.
As can be seen in the photo there are plenty of flowers on the vines, universal across, all varieties and clones in our biodynamic vineyard. 2022 is looking like another quantity year for Stefano Lubiana. Flowering is the next stage in the vine’s cycle and once the flowers are fertilised and set we will then be able to gauge the crop level and then take action to balance the yield.
We notice other berry crops in our garden are laden with flowers. This year’s moisture has certainly added to fertility across all our berry crops.
Stefano Lubiana 2020 Sauvignon Blanc biodynamic Fumé. In recent years our Sauvignon Blanc winemaking style has been shifting towards a morerestrained, earthy mineral, lightly oaked style.
Our first Sauvignon Blanc was made in 1998. That's 23 years ago! Originally the vineyard was planted to both Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the blend favoured in Bordeaux, France. We soon discarded the few rows of Semillon and replaced it with Sauvignon Blanc, making the block, 1.3 ha in total. In our opinion the wine tasted better without the Semillon.
The new world style, or approach, back in the 1990’s was to produce Sauvignon blanc with some herbaceousness, passion fruit, green apples topped off with tropical fruits flavours. This was consumer driven, partly by the ABC crowd (anything but chardonnay) and partly by a younger or new to wine consumers who favoured fruitier wines.
The advent of cool climate viticulture and winemaking in Australia supplied sauvignon blanc grapes that were not widely available pre 1990. We participated to some extent in the fruity Sauvignon Blanc craze, albeit at the higher quality end, with New Zealand taking full advantage of the trend and planting thousands of ha to satisfy the insatiable demand.
Many wine drinkers overdosed on these fruit bombs and soon grew tired of the style. Again much like the oaked chardonnay craze that saw consumers desert the variety in droves, they eventually returned some years later appreciating and not tiring of the more sophisticated complex cool climate chardonnays that are today’s top sellers.
In the last few years, we have taken our Sauvignon Blanc back to the drawing board and have tailored it to appeal to the more mature wine palate. Many consumers are now ready to let go of, or willing to trade, the tropical gooseberry, and passionfruit overtones for a more flinty, lightly oaked, chalky, earthy Sauvignon blanc featuring more elegant and balanced fruit structure. Marrying such fruit elegance with subtle tannic grip further develops the style into a versatile wine suitable for a range of culinary pairings. The Stefano Lubiana 2020 Fume Features poached pear, quince, persimmon, honeysuckle & floral musk. When the occasion presents itself this wine takes pride of place at the dinner table in the Lubiana household.
We are not reinventing the wheel with our 2020 Biodynamic Stefano Lubiana fume Sauvignon Blanc instead we have readjusted the style to suit our customer base our aging vines and our exceptional Sauvignon Blanc vineyard site.
The Loire Valley in France is world renowned for its exceptional quality Sauvignon Blancs, some selling for A$60-100. It is a more complex wine style, they have been making for centuries. France grows 35,000 ha of Sauvignon blanc compared to 23,000 ha grown in New Zealand, with 14,000 ha grown in Chile and only 6,000 ha grown Australia wide. Tasmania statistics, I could not find but, I estimate it would be less than 200 ha.
Tasmania offers the coolest climate Australia wide to grow sauvignon blanc to its full potential, thanks to our latitude. Sauvignon Blanc is a late ripener, therefore the longer it hangs on the vine, the more flavour it gathers. It is then up to the winemaker to use their skill to gently process the grapes, match the wine to quality oak (large format lightly toasted, in our case) that will not dominate but support the structure, and ensure the overall silhouette and winemaker’s contributions are true to the grape’s terroir.
Bio-Dynamics Tasmania a Resource Handbook www.biodynamicstas.com
Bio-Dynamics Tasmania kicked off with a seminar held in Ulverstone in 1988, presented by Colin Cook. The subject of today’s blog is the Bio-dynamics Tasmania resource handbook. It has largely been written by Graeme Roberts and Brian Grayling both long time members of Bio-Dynamics Tasmania.
We signed a contract to purchase our Granton property in 1989. I remember Alex Podolinsky (guru and Australian pioneer of bio-dynamics) visited our property in 1992 around April. He surveyed the property with Steve to assess its capacity to convert to bio-dynamics. We were so eager to get started, but with a young family and plenty of debt, bio-dynamics sat on the back burner until 2008. It was around this time we knew that the business would not fail and that we were on the road to reaching our business and personal goals. We had made the decision to start to use compost and softer fungicides (non-systemic) knowing that bio-dynamics were our ultimate farming systems. With this in mind it was less scary to take the risk of completely moving away from synthetic farming and to trial bio-dynamics. The trial was successful and in 2010 we became certified in conversion. In 2013 we became fully certified.
When I think of bio-dynamics I think of ‘the garden of Eden’; imagine a beautiful landscape where there is random organisation and everywhere you look is breathtakingly lush, healthy with a bounty of flavour filled produce. Of course this is a once a upon a time existence, perhaps a fantasy and possibly unachievable in this day and age. Nonetheless it did not stop us from striving towards this goal where one day, through the use of bio-dynamic systems, our vineyard would enter into a natural balance where it would almost care take for itself.
Graeme Roberts stopped by on Friday to go through the Bio-Dynamics Tasmania resource handbook with me. The difference with this resource is that it relates directly to Tasmanian’s climatic conditions and farming experiences, rather than those in Europe or even on the mainland. Graeme discussed with me his biodynamic knowledge and how he applied it to his own little 5-acre vineyard at Bagdad which he planted in 1992. He said there were great benefits to be had when making 500 by adding 8ml of valerian to the mix. This is a great tonic for all plants. I believe this to be true as Brian Keats (Astro Calendar author) has also told me that 501, when combined with trace elements, helps the plant to take them up more readily and to assimilate them.
The Bio-Dynamics Tasmania Resource Handbook is for everyone. It is not necessary to be certified to practice biodynmaics. On any level there is something that each of us can do to improve the soil and the planet. The bio-dynamic preparations are readily available from Bio-Dynamics Tasmania (or your local supplier). You can purchase their Resource Handbook on their website www.biodynamicstas.com and action the very easy steps to create your own bio-dynamic paradise. Bio-dynamics is a little bit like parenting; the more of it you do the more confident and better you get at it. If you’re not a parent think of it as learning to ride a bike. You start out slowly learn from the stacks and near misses and then take it to the ultimate level. Any bike rider, if skilled enough and determined, can ride in the Tour de France!
Stefano Lubiana Back Vintage Biodynamic Riesling biodynamic
Our first plot of Riesling was planted in 1995. Located on the right hand side of the entrance to our vineyard just past our ‘Monet’ pond. Here we have .2 of a hectare, with a second planting opposite the winery of .6 of a hectare, which was planted in 2006.
Of the 60 different Riesling clones available to plant our vineyards are a mixture of about 10 different clones developed by the Geisenheim Institute, based in Germany.
Steve’s father, Mario, was a very keen connoisseur of Riesling. Under his Lubiana Wines brand, he made ‘Rhine’ Riesling for decades in South Australia’s Riverland. Of course ‘Rhine’ is a Geographical Indicator so only winemakers in the Rhine Valley, Germany are now only allowed to use the word ‘Rhine’ on their labels.
Stefano Lubiana Wines is set on a hillside, 100-150m above sea level, with rows planted to a North/South orientation. Our site can be very windy, more so around the equinoxes. Given the exposed site and its elevation, the decision to plant Riesling rested with its reputation for handling the wind and for setting fruit even in difficult, drizzly years. We now know how to reduce climatic impact in our vineyard. Since we implement organics/biodynamic systems. Our use of manures, composts to the exclusion of the use of synthetic (artificial) fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides on our soils. The vines have strengthened their immunity and built resilience. This fortifies the vines in difficult climatic conditions.
Two standout Rieslings at that time, pre 1995, were Moorilla & Meadowbank both grown in the Derwent Valley. Based on those wines Steve took an educated risk believing Riesling would make a very good fit for our site and the rest, as they say, is history.
There are many famous Riesling growing regions around the world. Tasmania produces Rieslings of equal, if not higher quality. We produce Rieslings that are highly perfumed with unmatched balanced natural acid. Our style shows tons of middleweight texture and they finish with an ultra soft, refreshing mouth-feel.
Riesling made at Stefano Lubiana is always hand picked, sometimes whole-bunch pressed, sometimes crushed first, depending on the season. Chilled overnight and then racked before inoculation, with a cold long ferment ensuing. These days a portion is matured in seasoned foudres on extended lees before bottling 9 months after harvest.
Here is the vertical tasting notes by Steve & Christopher 26/8/21
2017 Riesling Biodynamic - Field flowers on the nose. Think chamomile, daisies, Iris. The pallet has a mix of lemon and oranges topped with a little syrup/icing sugar and long dry refreshing finish.
2015 Riesling Biodynamic - Lemon rind bounces from the glass, sherbet melon with a creamy texture lime citrus finish.
2013 Riesling Biodynamic - Honey, ice tea and lanolin on the nose. The texture is glossy and the palate features honey straw and musk finishing with racy acid and great palate length.
Oysters is an excellent food pairing for these perfectly aged Rieslings.
How picturesque is the Huon Valley?? Exquisite to say the least! Reminiscent of a fairy tale landscape, the reason why so many people fall in love with the Huon region. The hills roll on forever, the grass is a deeper shade of green, thicker and longer. The trees are that much taller and more majestic. There are ponds and dams everywhere you look and in the late afternoon, the water glistens in the sun. The air is full of moisture and particles dance through the air in the haze of summer. In winter the Huon River flows at around 9000ml/day producing a strong current almost bursting its banks. In summer, the gorgeous, clean, fresh water still flows at an astonishing rate. Anything and everything is happily growing in the Huon Valley.
Nestled in the little village of Cradoc is the Lucille vineyard. Here is where 9 hectares of pinot noir and one hectare of chardonnay fruit are grown. Originally planted on sloping ground with a north south orientation in 1973 by Steve Ferenze. The land at the edge of the vineyard continues for about another 500 metres until it hits ‘California bay’ an inlet of the Huon River.
The composition of the soil is grey clay; containing oblong riverbed stones mostly the size of quail’s eggs and slightly larger, covered by sandy loam topsoil. This site’s soil is much poorer than the surrounding plots that are mainly planted to apples.
The soil’s hard crust forces the vines to struggle, developing slow growth and tough foliage. The vineyard is mostly dry grown with 1-2 irrigations per year. The skins of the berries are tough and the berries are small. Small berries produce juice that is highly concentrated due to the skin to juice ratio.
The winery and vineyard have recently been renovated and the vineyard is now producing extremely high quality fruit at very low yields. In 2018 Steve decided to make a Huon Valley Estate Pinot Noir from this fruit as it too has the depth and quality that is produced at our Granton vineyard in the Derwent Valley.
The 2018 Estate Pinot Noir Huon Valley is a wine that is starting to emerge from its cocoon. The colour is deep crimson, very much like black cherry juice, and the nose is very elegant, floral and sweet. The palate offers more of the same with vanilla, bright cherry and spice. The tannins are plentiful but balanced. They are long and lean but dry, balancing the abundance of sweet cherries.
This wine will cellar well for many years to come. It is only now, after 2 years in the bottle, that it’s shy but impressive personality has appeared. Enjoy this wine for years to come. Hopefully it will be one of the wines that will cement Tasmania’s reputation as Australia’s most highly prized and celebrated Pinot Noir Capital.
Malvasia (Istriana), as far as it is known, originates from Greece. Cuttings were traded in the 14th century by the Venetian merchants, more than likely through the port at Trieste, less than an hour’s drive from the border of Croatia, and near the breathtakingly beautiful Istrian coast.
This variety is grown throughout Europe and the Americas, with small plantings in Australia. Traditionally the variety was blended with Trebbiano, a variety that was once widely grown in the warmer regions of Australia. In Italy, it is grown more around the Milano region. Malvasia was primarily grown to make a sweeter style of white wine, similar to white Tokay or white port, also known as Madeira.
Nick Butler, Steve’s very good University friend living in the UK, often vacationed in Istria from where Steve’s family originates. Nick raved about what a fantastical wine Malvasia made.
Nick motivated Steve to visit Istria and he too fell in love with the country and Malvasia. Soon after, a plan was hatched and 6 rows were added to our Yellow chardonnay block. 2018 was the first wine made and it quickly sold out. There was not enough fruit from the 2019 vintage to make a worthwhile amount so the faithful have been patiently waiting, until now! Steve has carefully crafted the next 100% Malvasia biodynamic Amphora from the 2020 vintage now available to those lovers of skin fermented whites and or those who enjoy thrill of trying alternative varieties.
Unfamiliar with term Amphora? This is the name of an egg shaped vessel used to ferment the white Malvasia grapes on their skins. Our Amphora is a ceramic vessel made by the ‘Living Forms’ folks based in the Byron Bay region. The benefits of the ceramic amphora are the ability of the shell to perspire, allowing self-cooling during fermentation. This is not possible in a concrete, timber or glazed clay amphora.
Let’s get back to how we make this wine and what it taste and smells like. Simple, natural and traditional winemaking is employed. The biodynamic grapes are hand harvested weighed then processed through the destemmer, removing the stalks but the berries remain whole this is now called must. The must is then conveyed into the Amphora where it sits until the natural yeasts spontaneously start to ferment. Once fermented it is basket pressed straight to barrel. It is then left on full solids until it’s ready to bottle.
The nose of the 2020 Stefano Lubiana Malvasia Amphora Biodynamic is one that is lifted with hints of musk, marmalade, and crème brûlée. The palate is rich and voluptuous with honeycomb, iced tea, sour plums and spice. This wine finishes lean and clean with a dusty minerality and some skin grip that lingers on the palate.
There is no rush to drink this wine once opened. It will keep for well over a few days, and is resistant to oxidation.
Historically Malbec grapes were widely grown in Bordeaux France. However this variety amongst others, was decimated by Phylloxera. Phylloxera is a louse that eats the roots of the vine, and was introduced to France from America in the 1860’s. Phylloxera was overcome in France and across Europe by grafting healthy canes onto rootstocks of grape varieties that are largely resistant to phylloxera. Today in Bordeaux Malbec is only grown on rootstocks and is mostly produced as one of the 5 key Bordeaux red varieties namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Cheval des Andes is a famous Malbec producer located in Mendoza, Argentina. Here you will find their high altitude vineyard close to Lujan de Cuyo Valley in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, between 900 & 1500 metres elevation. It was the dream of the Founder of Cheval des Andes, Pierre Lurton to plant the original Malbec vines from Bordeaux to Argentina. A vineyard originally planted to Malbec, on their own roots, in 1929. A joint venture between Terrazas de Los Andes and Cheval des Andes established in 1999 produces the expensive and very famous Malbec, Bordeaux-style blend that has become the signature wine of the Cheval des Andes.
Malbec on their own roots provide the purest expression of the variety. We are lucky here at Stefano Lubiana Wines like at Cheval des Andes to be able to grow our Malbec on own roots.
There you have it, a little history lesson on the Malbec variety. A relatively new variety to Tasmania and not yet widely grown throughout the many and varied viticultural regions of Tasmania. Here at Stefano Lubiana Wines we have been growing Malbec for some 10 years. Up until recently the grapes have found a home in our Bordeaux blend predominantly made up of Merlot. In 2018 we decided to make the blend 100% Malbec and the wine has not disappointed our many Buon Gusto club members, visitors to our eatery and those visiting for a tasting at our Tuscan inspired cellar door.
We are growing our grapes in soil similar to those found in Bordeaux, grey silty loam over small rocks and stones that have washed up over many millions of years, a product of river-bank drift. Our climate is cool like that of the Andes but not a result of altitude but a product of Tasmania’s southern latitude. Here the cool sea breezes ebb and flow along the tidal banks of the Derwent River creating perfect ripening conditions for Malbec.
Our 2018 harvest of the Stefano Lubiana biodynamic Malbec produced a wine that exhibits a highly expressive perfumed style with rich supple body. Forest floor, spice and Autumn fruits dominate the nose whilst the palate is a balance of rich plums intermingled with spice and ripe soft tannins.