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WineChatty does the Yarra Valley: Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander

WineChatty does the Yarra Valley

Part One: Innocent Bystander


Evernote Camera Roll 20150409 165558I have never been to the Yarra Valley and due to my historical bias towards heavy-hitting Barossa-style reds, I have to claim a general ignorance of the wines and wineries in the area. However having been recently exposed to and developing a taste for pinot noir and other cool-climate reds, I have to say I was excited to educate myself on the short trip here.

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After a short respite in the late afternoon, we headed out for a dinner at the Innocent Bystander winery. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this winery made the Giant Steps Applejack 2013 which we had tasted at our last Pinot Noir event (review here) just a few weeks ago. An interesting fact: Proprieter Phil Sexton is a master brewer and pioneer of Australian microbrewery movement, having co-founded Little Creatures and Matilda Bay Brewery. The White Rabbit Brewery (a subsidiary of Little Creatures) is in fact located directly opposite the Innocent Bystander. Little Creatures and White Rabbit are both personal favourites of mine and the Little Creatures Pale Ale in particular has been my go-to premium choice for years.
If you’ve ever been to the Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle you’ll know exactly what it looks like. Industrial-chic, open kitchen, dim lighting, dark wooden benches and leather couches. It feels comfortable and casual but also has a sure sense of style and flair. The logo/design for the Innocent Bystander is a great illustration for this. I was trying to think of a way to describe it but it just comes down to this. It is really cool. I aspire to be the fuzzy guy in the logo.
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Food is tapas style and designed for sharing. All the food was particularly excellent, and a medium rare porterhouse with a salsa verde was a standout (“Best. Salsa Verde. Ever”).  A pork sausage pizza was also really good with more spicy heat than usual.
I was not expecting too much wine tasting tonight, my assumption that it is a little awkward to line up glasses while having dinner. However the staff were incredibly accommodating and tester tasting glasses were whipped out on request for a recommendation. After a quibble amongst ourselves we decided commit to glasses of Applejack, the Giant Steps ‘Sexton Vineyard’ Pinot Noir (2013) for comparison and the Mea Culpa Shiraz (2012) for variety. When they figured out we were sharing the glasses, our waitress wrote each wine on the base of the glass which I thought was a nice touch.
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The Applejack is a light bodied pinot noir fruity with smooth tannins and also the prime recommendation from our waitress. The Sexton in comparison has more mineral and savoury elements with a little grippiness on the end. The Mea Culpa Shiraz was also smooth with well-integrated tannins however the Pinot’s were definitely the standout. Although the Applejack was definitely the crowd favourite of the night, I thought the Sexton was a good contrast and had very interesting flavours especially when tasted side by side with the Applejack.
It is rare to see a person produce products of such consistently high quality and it is clear that care, thoughtfulness and steady skillful hand is applied to all aspects of Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander. Great atmosphere, excellent service if you are in the Yarra Valley this place should definitely be at the top of your hit list. You can be sure that I’ll be back to do a proper tasting as well as to try out the cheeses and breads they have available as well.
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And of course if any other beers are involved I’ll be down with that too.


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About The Author
Peter Tan avatar
Peter Tan
Dilettante. I had to look that up.

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