It was 1977 and the ferocious snarl of the Sex Pistols was barely receding when a precociously talented musician from the north of England turned modern music on its head with a series of raw and breathtaking concerts staged through England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Briefly Warsaw, the young Ian Curtis morphed his band into Joy Division.
Signed to the Manchester based Factory Records, home also to the formidable Vini Reilly and Durutti Column, for a brief while the north of England was ground zero as modern music emerged from its stalemate with punk.
In the spring of 1980, while a student at Birmingham University, I went to Ian Curtis’s last concert. Ian Curtis sadly passed away in that year.
With fellow music tragic and winemaker Steve Flamsteed, we crafted this beautiful biodynamic vineyard and its wine in personal tribute to music important to us, and in particular, Ian Curtis and Joy Division.
Known Pleasures is a wine 15 years in the making.
This is a beautiful and brooding wine and we hope that you find it a worthy companion for good music.
We have been producing wine from the Gateway Vineyard in McLaren Vale for some time. It is a special site. There is one particular patch of the vineyard we have always seen as just a little more special than the rest and this became the source for the single ferment of our Known Pleasures.
The site overlooks the ocean, at the northern entry to the McLaren Vale - it is planted on tertiary red soil and stone, perched on a thick layer of limestone. The aspect is north-easterly, but the moderating ocean breezes mean the site is slightly cooler than the rest of the Vale. The ocean wind also beats the vines around enough at flowering to set a very small concentrated crop.
The Shiraz patch at Gateway was planted and raised on Biodynamics - never known anything else. 2014 marked our 10th vintage and over the last few years we have seen this block settle into a beautiful balance. The fruit from these vines has a peculiar intensity and flavour and the tannins from the crunchy brown seeds are also quite unique.
From the 2018 vintage we have produced a Known Pleasures Field White, with the predominant variety being Viognier, there are however pockets of rogue vines planted throughout block 4, also certified Biodynamic, whose variety is a little unclear… The wine is an elegant, fresh dry white wine with a delicious savoury palate.
A science graduate of the University of Western Australia with a Master of Science Degree in Fermentation and Brewing Science from the University of Birmingham (England).
Phil’s career in brewing includes Brewmaster at the Swan Brewing Company in Perth, co-founder of the Matilda Bay Brewing Company, and co-founder of Little Creatures Brewing Company. Phil has also brewed in Belgium, Germany, and the USA.
Phil’s wine career includes studying Wine Science at Charles Sturt University (incomplete), founding Devil’s Lair winery in Margaret River and, more recently, Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley.
2016 Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year.
Steve’s first qualification was in food, completing a four-year chef’s apprenticeship in Brisbane in the mid 1980s.
A keen skier, Steve travelled extensively in Europe, France in particular, paying his way chefing in small cafes, ski lodges and doing a 12-month stint at the St James Club in London.
Whilst travelling in France, Steve developed a number of culinary passions including cheese making, which would see him later return to France to study this trade. However, it was after working at Chateau du Bluizard in the Beaujolais region that Steve was inspired to become a qualified winemaker.
On returning to Australia, Steve enrolled in the winemaking course at Roseworthy Agricultural College, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Wine Science) in 1993, whilst at the same time supporting his studies working as a Chef at Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm Restaurant in the Barossa Valley.
In 1994, having maintained his interest in and passion for cheese, Steve won a Queen’s Trust Scholarship to study farmhouse cheese making in France. On his return from France Steve spent a year working as a cheese maker at Milawa in North Eastern Victoria.
As a winemaker, Steve has worked for Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, WA (1999 – 2002) and the Hardy Wine Company at their Yarra Burn Winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley (2002 – 2003).
Overseas, he has worked as a Flying Winemaker for Bottle Green Wines in the South of France, two vintages with Domaine Paul Blanck in Alsace and five vintages in Brouilly at Chateau de Bluizard.
2016 Sydney Royal Wine Show
2015 Royal Adelaide Wine Show
Wow. This is an extraordinary wine, handled with kid gloves from day 1. Biodynamically grown, hand picked, refrigerated van to Giant Steps' Healesville winery, destemmed or whole bunched, large format French oak, no fining or filtration. It's faintly turbid, the bouquet pretty red/purple fruits. Then comes the extraordinary power, pulse and drive of the palate, building intensity second-by-second, but equally building dazzling freshness. It tastes like 12.5% alc, not 14.5%. The tannins are imbedded within the fruit flavours, you sense them, but can't isolate them. The finish is endless, ditto aftertaste.
Something new from the guys at Giant Steps. The fruit is sourced from a biodynamically managed vineyard in McLaren Vale. The fermentation is interesting in that, as it approached 11 per cent alcohol, it was seeded with some Rhone yeasts to finish its journey. Wonderful gravelly fruit texture, with a dense concentration. Gets a little new French oak but the older oak has given it the fruit finesse.
Made by Giant Steps though you have to be eagle-eyed to spot their mention. It’s from the Gateway Vineyard; a biodynamically-farmed vineyard in McLaren Vale.
It’s been beautifully grown and made. It’s rich but not over the top; it’s smooth-skinned but not simple or syrupy. Blackberry, wood smoke, cloves, campfire and dark earth. Firm-ish tannin, smothered in fruit. If you’re looking for a Big Red, this is a beauty.
- Campbell Mattinson
From the Giant Steps crew, from a biodynamic vineyard. This is an exciting release. It feels pure but powerful in style, offering spice, brooding earthiness, a sniff of smoky oak, coursing with dark fruit flavour. Fine wine.
- Mike Bennie
A wine of early softness and approachability. It's obviously been whole-bunch fermented and is very complex in the spice/vegetal spectrum, and highly appealing to the nose and palate. Violets, cherries, blackberries. It's medium-bodied at best, the tannins are soft and the texture is lovely. Great drinkability. (and not just because I'm a Joy Division fan).
- Huon Hooke