Mark down Altaness as a name to watch out for. Duncan Ferguson and Susana Fernandez were the couple behind the Cascabel range of alternative varieties in McLaren Vale before packing up and basing themselves in the far south of the Huon Valley in Tasmania; just outside the hamlet of Cygnet. They've planted a vineyard on 21 hectares of land and are currently sourcing fruit from the excellent Heriots Point Vineyard across the river at Castle Forbes Bay as well as another vineyard at nearby Franklin. This delicious wine underwent wild ferment, is unfiltered and spent 14 month in French oak before release. Just 2,000 bottles were made, so it is short supply but is distributed in Tasmania by Red & White. Ferguson and Fernandez say: "We consider the area to have exceptional possibilities to produce elegant wines and pretty styles." They are off to a terrific start. $45. https://altaness.com
Sunday, 6 May 2018
The past few vintages from Fred Peacock and his team at Bream Creek Vineyard have been excellent - the 7.5 hectare vineyard at Marion Bay was originally planted in 1974, making it one of the oldest commercial vineyards on the island. Peacock purchased it is 1990. The 2016 vintage was a stunner in Tasmania and this very-limited-release reflects that with high-quality fruit showing citrus and stone fruit flavours allied to spicy French Oak, some buttery/savoury notes and excellent length, all at just 12.9% alcohol. Pair with white meat dishes like stuffed pork loin, or a traditional roast chicken. Already stylish and sophisticated, this will benefit from short- to medium-term cellaring. 94/100. $42. www.breamcreekvineyard.com.au
Tuesday, 1 May 2018
The talented Kate Hill, once of Orlando, has planted her own vines at Ranelagh in the Huon Valley, deep in the south of Tasmania, but while she waits for them to mature she sources some excellent fruit from growers. This is a prime example; a brisk, palate-pleasing sauvignon blanc made from grapes grown in the Coal River Valley. It is a million miles away from Marlborough savvy in style, with grapefruit/lime juice and stone fruit flavours to the fore alongside vibrant acid. Made in a fresh, lively style, this is an excellent choice for one of the last days of summer sunshine. $30. www.katehillwines.com.au.
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
I have been working my way slowly through the Hughes & Hughes range, and also sharing some of the wines with members of my tasting groups. The responses have been universally positive with a couple of pinot noirs being major hits, along with this floral, citrusy and downright delicious riesling. The back story is a terrific one with brothers Jonny and Matthew Hughes, based at Flowerpot in the extreme south of Tasmania, making wines that are full of verve, texture and interest.This is a blend of fruit sourced from the Coal River and Derwent valleys. Only 2500 bottles were made, but this is well worth seeking out. $27. www.mewstonewines.com.au.
Sunday, 8 April 2018
In just a couple of years, Paul and Gilli Lipscombe have developed cult status for their glorious Huon Valley pinots - and with some young vines coming online there is more of it than ever before (although production is still tiny). This is a very structural pinot with great acid and intensity that sits midway between the fruit-driven style favoured by many Tasmanian pinot producers and more subtle savoury nuances. It is a wine of power and palate interest, with an immediate drinkability factor. Long and supple; serious but fun. $50. https://sailorseekshorse.com.au
Thursday, 29 March 2018
There is something stirring down at Bream Creek. The wines from Fred Peacock's vineyard have always been reliably good but nowadays they are reaching another level. This wine, inspired by the dry rosés of Provence, is a case in point. I've tried it several times over the past few months and it has never failed to deliver crispness and freshness with a tangy cranberry/raspberry bite on the palate. Made from 100% pinot noir it has terrific acidity and would probably be best enjoyed well chilled, as a youngster, perhaps matched with some Middle Eastern dips. $29. www.breamcreekvineyard.com.au.
Saturday, 17 March 2018
This lovely wine, light and well balanced, was judged the best white at the Bream Creek Show yesterday - and it is one of better Australian gewurzs I've tried; varietal but restrained. The nose alone reveals it as gewurz with its musky, Turkish Delight notes, and those characters follow through to the palate with fresh lychee notes joining in the palate party. www.iqwines.com, called IQ for convenience, is a 10-year-old,1.2 hectare vineyard, located just out of Richmond in the . The vineyard is predominantly planted with pinot noir with a few rows of gewürztraminer. The wines are made by Alain Rousseau at Frogmore Creek. You'll need to be quick for this one, as its made in tiny quantities. $30.