Some of Tasmania's finest sparkling wines are as expensive as premium Champagnes, but this non-vintage release from Frogmore Creek is both delicious and affordable. Made in an aperitif style, fresh and crisp, this has citrus and red berry flavours, along with toast and bright acid. It is a blend of 90% chardonnay and 10% pinot noir grown in the Coal River Valley, just outside Hobart. An elegant choice that would pair brilliantly with oysters or scalllops - or with savoury snacks at a Christmas party. $29. www.frogmorecreek.com.au.
Friday 16 September 2016
Stargazer is the striking label of former Wirra Wirra and Tower Estate winemaker Sam Connew and the release of her 2016 whites, along with an impressive 2015 Chardonnay, comes as a welcome relief as she ran out of stock from the previous vintage several months ago. This is an outstanding textural off-dry riesling and is the first made from fruit grown on the Palisander vineyard in the Coal River Valley, which Connew purchased in February. Along with hedgerow aromatics and bright citrus and Granny Smith apple notes, you'll find river pebble and quartz minerality and some fruit sweetness. The wine is a result of whole-bunch and wild ferments and was matured in a mix of stainless steel, ceramic eggs and older oak. Downright delicious, but it might pay to be quick as only 4533 bottles were produced. $35. www.stargazerwine.com.au.
Tuesday 13 September 2016
Home Hill, tucked away in the Huon Valley in the deep south of Tasmania, gained global recognition when the 2014 edition of its reserve pinot noir was awarded perhaps Australia's most famous wine accolade: the Jimmy Watson trophy. That win was thanks to the combined passion of owners Terry and Rosemary Bennett and expertise of viticultural/winemaker duo Paul and Gilli Lipscombe. This is the follow-up vintage and it is, once again, of exceptional quality. It is on the muscular side of the pinot spectrum, inky and intense, and should be given some time after the bottle is opened. I actually enjoyed it more on the second day than the first. The wine is made from the top barrels of the vintage with one small section of the vineyard at its core. It is earthy, complex, and has impressive tannin structure. A cellaring prospect? Certainly. $75. www.homehillwines.com.au.
Tuesday 6 September 2016
This is seriously good gear at a very reasonable (read bargain) price. Spring Vale is a small family-run winery on Tasmania's remote East Coast that regularly punches above its weight in both quality and value. Tasted against several more expensive interstate siblings it shone over two nights and I ended up with an empty bottle. This is youthful and modern with delightful natural acidity, citrus and stone fruit flavours and almost imperceptible oak influence, even though 50% of the fruit is fermented in new and old French oak. I liked the minerality, the freshness, balance and texture and this would marry very well with roast pork and crackling. The Q code links to video and tasting notes is also a nice modern touch.