Pipan Steel wines is owned by Paula Pipan, winemaker and Radley Steel, Vineyard Manager.
After sampling the complexity and delicacy of Barolos from Piedmont, Italy, we were hooked on the mission to make our own.
Once we knew our path Paula completed her Winemaking degree through Charles Sturt Uni, and Radley moved his Sports Medicine practice to NE Vic.
For years we searched the length and breadth of Australia for the right hillside, at the right elevation, with the right soil. And we found it at Mudgegonga, three and a half hours north of Melbourne, nestled in the foothills of the Australian Alps. Nebbiolo is the only grape grown in this tiny vineyard. Like the Nebbiolo vineyards of Barolo, our vineyard sits at 400m above sea level, and is bathed in "nebbia" (fog) every winter.
The Nebbiolo grape is native to the Piedmont (meaning 'foot of mountain') region of northwest Italy. Wines made from Nebbiolo are reputed to be some of the most complex and long lived wines in the world as seen in some of the great Barolos and Barbarescos from Piedmont. Famous for its fine chalky tannins and textural mouthfeel, the pleasure of Nebbiolo is enhanced by decanting and fine food.
Three Nebbiolo clones sourced from Gruppo Matura in Italy (Mat 7, Mat 9 & Mat 10) are planted in east-west oriented vineyard rows down the hillside, which drops from 410m to 390m in elevation on a sun-bathed northeast-facing slope. 2000 vines are spaced 1m apart with 2m row width and are arch cane pruned. Irrigated only in dry years from a spring on the property, the vines have prospered in a decomposed granite soil with activated compost mulching under vine.
Budburst is early with Nebbiolo, usually in the first few weeks of September. Shoot thinning happens in Oct-Nov and careful bunch thinning achieves a crop load of just 1 – 1.5 kg fruit per vine, optimizing fruit quality and flavour.
Harvest is mid to late March. Each of the Nebbiolo clones is vinified separately some with an inoculum of BRL 90 yeast (Barolo strain) and malolactic bacteria, some wild fermented. Gentle ferment is maintained at around 19 – 29oC in open vats and is hand plunged several times a day for 7-10 days after which it is left on skins for a month to 6 weeks to allow the tannins to become softer, rounder and integrated. The wine is then pressed off skins and racked into large older French oak for 2 years. After another year in bottle Pipan Steel Nebbiolo is released, ready for drinking but its true splendour is enhanced by further cellaring for at least another 5 years.