Saturday, 9 December 2017

Stargazer 2017 Rada

Sam Connew is a force of nature. A qualified lawyer in her native New Zealand and an accomplished marathon runner, she has been chief winemaker at big guns like Wirra Wirra and Tower Estate, as well as being chief judge at the Royal Sydney Show. She is now crafting an excellent range of boutique wines from her vineyard base in the Coal River Valley. The latest wine to join the Stargazer line-up, bring the collection up to five, is a co-fermented blend of pinot meunier and pinot noir from the 2017 vintage. Fresh and juicy red berry flavours ally with savoury/spice notes from the meunier to produce a red that's perfect for summer sipping - and can even be chilled for a few minutes on warmer days. The fruit is a blend of Pipers River and the Coal River Valley. This is a style I'd like to see a lot more of.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Bellebonne 2015 Vintage Rosé

Natalie Fryar was the driving force behind the Jansz sparkling wines for several years but after leaving in 2014 has finally launched the first wine under her own Bellebonne label - and its a cracker. Known as the Fizzician (well I just made that up, actually), Fryar is a whiz with bubbles and Bellebonne's first release, a stunning vintage rosé made from 100% Tasmanian pinot noir (from Pipers River), will almost certainly sell out (less than 1500 bottles were made)). A Vintage Cuvée and Blanc de Blancs are also in the pipeline. This is a very pretty wine with delicious fruit, but is also powerful and elegant with plenty of potential longevity. It's been aged in 100% old oak and undergone some lees work for complexity. The name Bellebonne makes "beautiful and good" and the wine is labelled "Made by Tasmania" as a nod to the Apple Isle's unique terroir. Outstanding. I give it 96/100. $65.   

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Tasmanian Organic Wines 2016 Bye's Lifffey Valley Pinot Noir

Ian and Caryl Cairns, among only a handful of organic wine producers in Tasmania, make tiny quantities of pinot noir each year from their remote vineyard at 300 metres in the eastern foothills of the Great Western Tiers, a collection of mountain bluffs that form the northern edge of the Central Highlands plateau. With warm sunny days and very cool nights, the vineyard has the diurnal variation that sees pinot noir thrive. The property has been farmed using organic and biodynamic methods since 1991 and the wines are made with minimal sulphur dioxide. The Cairns family has no website, however, and does minimal promotion, so the wines are little known despite a history of excellence. Inky and intense, this has dark fruit notes with wild mushroom and deli nuances and finishes long, fresh and clean. $35. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Mania 2016 Chardonnay

Winemaker Jim Chatto may well be the busiest man in the Australian wine industry. In addition to overseeing the McWilliam's Mount Pleasant operation and associated brands, he's also the chief winemaker for Kreglinger, across the Pipers Brook and Norfolk Rise brands, as well as making pinot noir in southern Tasmania under the Chatto and Isle labels. This is a side project with Fourth Waves Wines; an excellent Tasmanian chardonnay made using fruit from the Iron Pot Bay vineyard in the Tamar Valley in the north of the state. It's very good, too, with whole-bunch, wild fermentation and 100% barrel ferment upping the funk ante. Matured for 12 months in mainly older oak puncheons, this also underwent post-ferment battonage. Think elegance, minerality, citrus and stone fruits with plenty of zippy acid. Luvverly. $35.  

Friday, 10 November 2017

Bream Creek 2016 Riesling

There is a sure-fire way to ascertain whether a wine is a winner. That is when you suddenly see a bottle with much lower levels than any of the wines you are tasting alongside it. This wine has that quality - and was recently named top Tasmanian riesling at the International Riesling Challenge in Canberra. It's a little masterpiece from vigneron Fred Peacock and his team on the Tasman Peninsula, crisp and dry with bright lemon, lime and Granny Smith apple notes along with terrific length and acidity. The vines producing fruit for this wine are up 40 years old - and are reflected in the intensity of the fruit. Riesling is well suited to the Tasmanian climate, and is a good match with the seafood, shellfish and Asian-accented dishes. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Bay of Fires 2016 Chardonnay

With Penny Jones and Ricky Evans having seaminglessly continued the winemaking excellence of the now departed Peter Dredge, the new-release 2016 Bay of Fires is once again among Tasmania's finest chardonnays; cool-climate and beguiling in style. This is a blend of fruit from three different regions of Tasmania; the Coal River Valley, the Derwent Valley and the East Coast and offers classic notes of stone fruit and bright citrus. It has undergone natural ferment and been matured in French oak but the bright fruit is the star on a long, intense palate, with quality oak playing Robin to the fruit's Batman. Beautifully balanced, dry with a crisp acid backbone, and absolutely delicious. $45.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Stefano Lubiana 2016 Estate Pinot Noir

You will rarely go wrong with wines produced by Stefano and Monique Lubiana at Granton, just north of Hobart. The Lubianas are obsessed with quality above all else and farm organically and biodynamically, producing wines with flavour intensity and quality. Compost teas, natural minerals and plant-based preparations are not a guarantee of success - but here everything comes together beautifully to produce a pinot noir that sings with its elegant composure and impressive structure with fruit and savoury characters knitted together. This is 100% estate grown, vinified and bottled and has impressive balance. A simply lovely cool-climate pinot. $50.