Toolangi

The Yarra Valley’s Best Kept Secret?

This long-established, yet relatively undiscovered Dixon’s Creek gem has entered a new and exciting chapter and are well on their way to receiving the accolades and recognition a site and team of this calibre deserve. The fruit and wines from this respected vineyard have always been highly respected and sought after, and in the past, the winemaking was outsourced to a gamut of respected and talented Australian winemakers, including Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda.

Back in 2017 Helmut Konecsny, the owner of Rochford Wines, purchased Toolangi Vineyards and immediately started ringing in the changes. Under this new, hands-on ownership and with talented young winemaker Kaspar Hermann at the helm, Toolangi have the wind in their sails. In Hermann, the Toolangi vineyard has found its winemaking Prince Charming. In addition to Mount Mary, where he worked as assistant winemaker for eight years before joining Toolangi. Hermann’s CV includes stints at Seville Estate, Coldstream Hills and Punch. Working alongside Hermann is viticulturist Brian Heslop. A Kiwi by birth, Brian cut his teeth in some of Aotearoa's most venerated and visionary Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards: Pyramid Valley and Bell Hill. He also brings to the table a commitment to sustainability and biodiversity, embracing organic, biodynamic and regenerative practices in the vineyard.

Although Toolangi is a vineyard and label steeped in of history the region, in recent years new ownership and confident viticultural and winemaking changes have breathed new life into this Yarra Valley gem.

Together, the pair’s chief goal is to bring the vineyard back to the heart of the Toolangi story, with the focus on rejuvenating and upgrading the work in the vines. This was, after all, one of only two Yarra producers to engage the services of renowned soil scientist Claude Bourguignon, when Bibendum Wine Co. brought him out to Australia in 2018. Bourguignon’s recommendations have already begun to be implemented, including the transition to under vine cultivation and the reduction of inputs in the vineyard… And the work continues.

Hermann is steering the winemaking towards a less worked style, ensuring further purity, finesse, structure and elegance. It didn’t take this talented craftsman long to develop a distinctive and cohesive identity as compared to those of Toolangi 1.0, which, as mentioned, was the product of a roster of external (if very talented) winemakers. In the vines, Ammerlaan presides over some prime Yarra Valley real estate. First planted in 1995, the Toolangi now boasts 13 hectares under vine. An ideally situated vineyard, located right next to the Toolangi State Forest—its well-drained, gentle slopes and a coveted north-east orientation only begin to tell the story of this appealing, unique and characterful vineyard.

When Helmut Konecsny arrived in 2017, the original plan was to condense the range into just two tiers of wine—the Toolangi and Toolangi Paul’s Lane labels. But the vineyard had other ideas—in searching to revive the unique DNA of this site, the team quickly realised the individual personalities and quality coming from the vineyards’ exiting Block parcels was simply too great to pass up. These ‘Block’ wines are produced from the most privileged, low-yielding parcels of Dixon’s Creek vineyard. In particular, the F-Block Chardonnay is cropped from the vineyard’s highest and coolest area, abutting the Toolangi State Forest. The soils here are relatively shallow and rockier, resulting in low yields of intensely flavoured, bright and finely structured fruit. We’ve tasted many a Puligny of lessor quality. And so it goes with the E Block Pinot Noir sourced from two rows of 18-year-old MV6 vines.

What a difference just a few years can make. Taking nothing away from Toolangi’s fine history, the triple whammy of new ownership, full control of winemaking and the introduction of a talented new winemaker has breathed new life into this already fabulous grower. If you do not know the wines, we strongly suggest you take a look.

The Range

Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021
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Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021

Established in 1995, Toolangi Vineyard is in the Dixons Creek subregion of the Yarra Valley, adjoining the Toolangi State Forest. This low-cropping vineyard is planted to the Gingin, Mendoza and I10V3 clones and sits on fine clay loam. Year after year, it produces wines with a distinctive personality and strong sense of place. The Paul’s Lane Chardonnay is the product of just 20 rows of the original 1995 plantings on the property: I1OV3 and Gingin clones in D block. The fruit was handpicked on 27th February and pressed as whole bunches to barriques and puncheons (20% new) for fermentation. There was no malolactic conversion, and the wine matured without lees for 10 months. 2021 was a long, classic season, allowing for brilliant flavour definition. It’s a fairly dense yet racy Chardonnay with layers of ripe pear, yellow jube and nectarine fruit, nutty complexity and a clean, powdery close.

“From a single block of 26-year-old vines. Whole-bunch pressed to barriques and puncheons (20% new) with no mlf. A bright, deep-ish green gold. Enticing aromas of lightly spiced apples and stone fruits with hints of mint and pink grapefruit. Generous and giving on the front palate, I like how this fine-boned wine finishes taut and long. A stylish wine that should age gracefully.”
95 points, Philip Rich, Halliday Wine Companion 2024
“Well, yes please. Flint, struck match, white peach and nectarine flavours with fennel, green pineapple, cedar and cream characters purring persuasively throughout. It’s complex, ripe, mouthwatering and lengthy. It’s delicious.”
94 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021
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Toolangi Pinot Noir 2023
Toolangi Pinot Noir 2023
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Toolangi Pinot Noir 2023

Kaspar Hermann has now been at the Toolangi helm for six years. Under Hermann’s site-first approach—allowing the place and vintage to dictate the result rather than forcing a particular style—the true character and quality of Toolangi’s vineyard are starting to reveal themselves. At Toolangi, 2023 was another in a string of low-yielding vintages. Thankfully, the lack in quantity was more than recouped in quality, and the wines are marked by vibrancy, pure flavours and textural finesse. Drawn from 20+-year-old vines, the estate Pinot Noir was handpicked over two days in the third week of March. The fruit was partially destemmed and fermented as whole berries, with a small portion of whole bunches included (10%). After 14 days, the wine was pressed to oak (10% new) for nine months’ maturation. We don’t need to tell you about Kaspar Hermann’s serious winemaking chops. And we really don’t need to tell you how much bang for your buck you get from this diligently farmed single-vineyard bottling. This release says it all. 

Toolangi Pinot Noir 2023
Toolangi Pinot Noir 2023
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Toolangi Chardonnay 2022
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Toolangi Chardonnay 2022

Established in 1995, Toolangi Vineyard is in the Dixons Creek subregion of the Yarra Valley, adjoining the Toolangi State Forest. This low-cropping vineyard is planted to the Gingin, Mendoza and I10V3 clones and sits on fine clay loam. Year after year, it produces wines with a distinctive personality and strong sense of place. At Toolangi, 2022 will be remembered for two things: the tiniest yields in a decade (resulting from poor flowering) and outstanding wines. The Chardonnay was picked by hand on 4th March and whole bunch-pressed directly to French oak barriques and puncheons (10% new). The wine rested for 10 months before being bottled. The result is a layered wine of concentration and finesse, punching well above its weight when considering the price. 

Toolangi Chardonnay 2022
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Toolangi Shiraz 2021
Toolangi Shiraz 2021
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Toolangi Shiraz 2021

The Toolangi Vineyard in Dixon's Creek, established in 1995, is one of the Yarra Valley's hidden secrets. The soils are fine clay loam and the low yielding site produces wines with distinct character and a strong sense of place. Fruit for the estate Shiraz is sourced from clone PT23 vines in Blocks D and A. The grapes were hand harvested on the 26th of March and was naturally fermented with 10% whole bunches and 90% whole berries. It was then matured in French oak and spent 10 months on lees. The 2021 vintage was a welcome return to ideal growing conditions in the Yarra Valley. The season was prolonged, with cool nights and warm days providing long and even ripening and excellent definition of flavour. 

“This is often something of a steal and it is again here. Peppery spice notes, sweet-sour red cherry characters, slips of darker berries and smoky oak. It’s a frisky red but it has just enough depth to give it a satisfying feel, and the spice notes have a bit of come-hither about them. Personally I’d buy/drink this in a heartbeat.”
92 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Toolangi Shiraz 2021
Toolangi Shiraz 2021
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Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2021
Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2021
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Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2021

Toolangi’s ‘Block’ wines are produced from the most privileged, low-yielding parcels of the Dixon’s Creek vineyard. In particular, the F Block Chardonnay is cropped from the vineyard’s highest and coolest area, abutting the Toolangi State Forest. The soils here are relatively shallow and rockier, resulting in low yields of intensely flavoured fruit complemented by lovely natural energy. Simply, this block—home to 19-year-old vines of the Gin Gin clone—has been identified as growing the best of the best Chardonnay that this Toolangi produces. The 2021 was hand-picked on the 27th of February and whole-bunch-pressed with full solids straight to oak (25% new). Both primary fermentation and (partial) malolactic were powered by wild yeasts. The wine then spent 10 months on lees without stirring before bottling.It’s a layered and complex Chardonnay with a powerful depth of flavour and impressive structure. Intense, with notes of nectarine and flinty salinity, the density, flavour and fleshy texture are underscored by chalky phenolics and a whiplash of acidity. It is tensile and coiled, finishing with a vivid comet’s tail of pristine fruit flavour. Superb.

It’s a layered and complex Chardonnay with a powerful depth of flavour and impressive structure. Intense, with notes of nectarine and flinty salinity, the density, flavour and fleshy texture are underscored by chalky phenolics and a whiplash of acidity. It is tensile and coiled, finishing with a vivid comet’s tail of pristine fruit flavour. Superb.

“Sourced entirely from the 2001-planted, .4ha F Block. The fruit was whole-bunch pressed to French barriques (25% new) and fermented using natural yeasts; 40% mlf with no lees stirring. A bright green-gold hue. There's a lot going on here. Aromas of ripe white peach, acacia, wet stone and a little discreet toast from the perfectly handled and already integrated oak. Mineral, textured and slippery, the palate is both structured and very well balanced. Finishes super long and, as good as this is now, those that have the patience to lay some down for two to five years will be well rewarded.”
97 points, Philip Rich, winecompanion.com.au
"A bright lemon yellow in the glass. Lemon-balm, struck flint, oyster brine and smoky bacon-fat aromatics. Serious power and intensity from the entry: it fills the palate with peachy fruits, stony minerality and smoky nuttiness. A melange of flavours that are all enmeshed in a fine, yet taut web of acidity that carries it long, long and longer to the finish"
96 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review
“Nectarine, ginger and spiced oak, a whisper of fennel, maybe some grapefruit and lemon zest. It’s spicy, a little saline, some toasted nuts, a light chalky feel to texture, bright acidity, and a zesty gently sappy finish of good length. Nice wine. Tight, savoury, tangy, and good to drink.”
94 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2021
Toolangi F Block Chardonnay 2021
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Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021 (1500ml)
Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021 (1500ml)
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Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021 (1500ml)

Hand-harvested from Toolangi’s original 1995 plantings (I1OV3 and Gin Gin clone grapes on D Block). From just rows 35-55, these rows naturally yield fruit that has both intensity and superb freshness.Crushed and pressed with full solids straight to French oak (20% new). Fermentations were wild and the wine spent 10 months on lees in barrel before bottling. 2021 was a prolonged, classical season allowing for brilliant definition of flavour. It’s quite a dense yet racy Chardonnay with layers of ripe pear, yellow jube and nectarine fruit, nutty complexity and a clean, powdery close.

2021 was a prolonged, classical season allowing for brilliant definition of flavour. It’s quite a dense yet racy Chardonnay with layers of ripe pear, yellow jube and nectarine fruit, nutty complexity and a clean, powdery close.

“Well, yes please. Flint, struck match, white peach and nectarine flavours with fennel, green pineapple, cedar and cream characters purring persuasively throughout. It’s complex, ripe, mouthwatering and lengthy. It’s delicious.”
94 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
“From a single block of 26-year-old vines. Whole-bunch pressed to barriques and puncheons (20% new) with no mlf. A bright, deep-ish green gold. Enticing aromas of lightly spiced apples and stone fruits with hints of mint and pink grapefruit. Generous and giving on the front palate, I like how this fine-boned wine finishes taut and long. A stylish wine that should age gracefully.”
95 points, Philip Rich, Halliday Wine Companion 2024
Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021 (1500ml)
Toolangi Pauls Lane Chardonnay 2021 (1500ml)
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“A producer that demonstrates a deep commitment to terroir in producing Australia’s finest and most distinctive wines.” Nick Stock, Good Wine Guide

Halliday Red 5 Star Winery - Outstanding winery regularly producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity.

Country

Australia

Primary Region

Yarra Valley, Victoria

People

Winemaker: Kaspar Hermann

Availability

National

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