Saturday 21 December 2019

Two Bud Spur 2018 Gamay Nouveau

Gamay is the grape the French use to make the delicious lighter-style red wines of Beaujolais - but there are only a handful of producers using the grape here in Australia. Gamay should, in theory, thrives in cooler-climate regions like southern Victoria and Tasmania and this excellent example is made from fruit grown at Gardners Bay in the Huon Valley. Fresh and vibrantly fruity, with strawberry and savoury notes, this is designed to be drunk young, maybe lightly chilled. It just so happens it would go well with both turkey and ham dishes. Snap some up. $30.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Quiet Mutiny Charlotte's Elusion 2019 Riesling

A different take on riesling from talented second-generation winemaker Greer Carland, who has used quality Derwent Valley fruit to produce this textural wine that is lower in acid than many of its Clare and Eden Valley counterparts. It is very floral and long on the palate; more elegant than in your face with lovely balance. Carland previously worked at Winemaking Tasmania but has struck out on her own with an impressive range of carefully considered wines. $39.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Jansz Tasmania NV Premium Cuvée

The recent Effervescence festival served to underline the huge strides made by Tasmanian sparkling wine producers; and how Tasmania is now second only to Champagne when it comes to world-class bubblies. Jansz, owned by the Hill-Smith family, is a label devoted entirely to sparkling wine and this non-vintage cuvée offers superb value. Jansz was a pioneer of sparkling wines in Tasmania and current winemaker Louisa Rose is one of the best in the land. Think berry and citrus flavours, nougat and vaguely nutty notes, freshness, creamy nuances and a brisk finish. $30. 

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Holm Oak 2018 Chardonnay

Holm Oak is a small family-owned and -operated winery in the Tamar Valley that produces wines of real quality at realistic prices. This is a chardonnay that demands to be enjoyed with food, given the prominence of new and near-new French oak. That oak, 20% new, 80% 1-4 years old, along with natural fermentation and 20% malo makes this a complex beast with complexity, richness and intensity. It finishes with some brisk acid making it perfect for enjoying with roast pork and crackling. $36.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Home Hill 2018 Kelly's Reserve Pinot Noir

The limited production one of Tasmania's finest pinots will have to last twice as long as usual. There will not be another Home Hill Kelly's Reserve vintage until 2020 after smoke taint from bush fires wrecked the 2019 vintage.That means buyers will have to be quicker than ever to snap up a few bottles of this outstanding - and much sought-after wine. Kelly's Reserve is barrel-selected from one of the original Home Hill blocks in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart, planted in 1995. It is all class with dark cherry fruit, intensity, minerality and complexity, aided by quality French oak. An impeccably balanced wine with the grace and strength of a ballerina. $75.

Monday 21 October 2019

Sinapius 2018 Close-Planted Gewurztraminer

I am a huge admirer of the wines produced by Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice at the their Pipers River vineyard and winery. All are full of personality and reflect the couple's adventurous spirit. This is the first varietal gewurz produced by Sinapius and was whole-bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel to retain bright acid and purity. The must spent 11 months maturing on yeast less before bottling. With sweet fruit, muskiness, bright acid and a dryish finish this would be perfect paired with Thai or Vietnamese dishes. $38.  

Saturday 5 October 2019

Apogee 2018 Alto Pinot Noir

Apogee is the boutique label of Tasmanian pioneer Dr Andrew Pirie, who has played such a a key role in the emergence of the island state as a high-quality wine producer. Pirie produces tiny amounts of sparkling wine, pinot gris and pinot noir from his estate at Lebrina to the north of Launceston. Pirie is a perfectionist and this beguilingly elegant pinot is aromatic and medium-bodied with intense red berry flavours, dark cherry and subtle oak notes. Immaculately balanced, as you'd expect, with a nod to the great wines of Burgundy. Pair with sauteed mushrooms or Chinese roast duck. $55.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Riversdale Estate 2016 Cygnus Riesling

You get an each way bet with this excellent dryish riesling from Riversdale Estate in the Coal River Valley, just north of Hobart. While it is still alive with bright fruit notes, it also has the first signs of toasty aged character. The fruit is grown in the shadow of the University of Tasmania's radio telescope and the wine is named after the Latin word for swan. Think musk and mineral characters and an attractive aperitif-style made by Alain Rousseau at Frogmore Creek. $28. Sold through Cellarmasters,     

Monday 2 September 2019

Mania 2018 Pinot Noir

Mania is the "budget" label of Jim and Daisy Chatto, who also produce premium Tasmanian wines under their Isle and Chatto labels. This is a blend of fruit from three different regions; the Huon Valley, Tamar Valley and East Coast, hand-picked and sorted, wild fermented and matured in aged French oak puncheons for 10 months. Distributed by Fourth Wave Wines (which exports some of the stock to Europe), this is well balanced and immediately accessible to but still has the style and complexity for which Chatto is known. Well worth checking out. $35.     

Sunday 18 August 2019

Home Hill 2018 Estate Pinot Noir

There is something very special about the Home Hill vineyard at Ranelagh in the Huon Valley, the southernmost region of Tasmania. As if sprinkled with gold dust, year after year Home Hill has managed to produce pinot noirs of exquisite expression. This is a classic cool-climate wine, full of personality and length and boasting beautiful balance despite its intensity. Lashings of dark cherry fruit flavours combine with quality oak and deli nuances for a wine of poise that offers immediate drinking pleasure but will cellar well. A warning: be quick as after several stunning vintages the 2019 vintage was affected by smoke taint. Sleek and chic with layers of flavours, this is excellent buying for $50.      

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Tolpuddle 2018 Chardonnay

This is the seventh release from Shaw + Smith's outstanding vineyard in the Coal River Valley, which Martin Shaw considers one of the finest grape-growing sites in Australia. This, to my mind, is the most complete Tolpuddle chardonnay to date; a reflection both of the great growing season but also the ongoing work in the vineyard. It is a very clean and precise chardonnay with bright natural acidity, with lemon zest and sherbet fruit flavours to the fore and nine in months in French oak adding texture without instruding. An instant classic. $75.

Saturday 13 July 2019

Moorilla 2017 Praxis Pinot Noir

Moorilla's Canadian winemaker Conor van der Reest is crafting some outstanding wines right now and this pinot is proof that you don't need to spend extravagant sums of money to taste some of the best of the Apple Isle. This is pinot that tastes like pinot (rather than soft dry red) with impressive lighter, velvelty structure while retaining quality fruit flavours. It weighs in at a (relatively) modest 13.7% alcohol and comprises fruit from the St Matthias vineyard in the north of the state. The label is the usual graffiti mishmash, the wine itself far more artistic. $32.

Sunday 7 July 2019

Sinapius 2018 Gruner-Veltliner

Gruner-Veltliner, the delightful aromatic white grape variety from Austria, is extremely rare in Tasmania. That's a pity because, as this example foreshadows, gruner should thrive in cool Tasmanian climes. Rugged non-conformists Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice close plan their GV, hand-pick and de-stem with a few hours of skin contact prior to pressing. The wine is naturally fermented in large, old French oak barrels where it remained on yeast lees for 11 months, adding texture but minimal oak elements. The wine was bottled, unfined, in March 2019 and has classic combinations of white stone fruit and citrus notes, hints of minerality and spice and a fresh, brisk finish. This would be fabulous with Vietnamese dishes. $38.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Marion's Vineyard 2018 Flowerdance

Marion's Vineyard, overlooking the Tamar River at Deviot in northern Tasmania, is planted with some rather unusual grape varieties, several of which are blended here to produce a very refreshing and food-friendly wine that we paired with a selection of tapas plates. The grapes involved are Muller-Thurgau, muscat and gewurztraminer and the end result is a floral, quite dry field blend with some honeyed fruit character and hints of musk and Turkish delight. The flavours are intense (the vineyard dates back to 1979) and this is well worth seeking out for lovers of the unusual. $25.

Monday 3 June 2019

Bream Creek 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir

An exceptional new-release reserve pinot noir from Fred Peacock and his team at Bream Creek, which overlooks Maria Island on the East Coast of Tasmania. The fruit used for this wine is from some of the oldest vines in the state and this intense pinot has picked up a swag of trophies and gold medals both domestically and overseas. It is a perfumed with with delightful balance, supple and graceful - like a ballerina. Serious fruit; excellent structure; layers of flavours. $65.

Monday 6 May 2019

Gala Estate 2017 Pinot Noir

It is a fact that will not have escaped wine lovers that pinots from Tasmania are rarely in the bargain basement price bracket. A lot of wineries charge $50 and upwards for their entry level wines; and find the market happy to pay that price. That makes it a rare pleasure to discover a very good producer on the East Coast of the island state making a fresh, lively pinot for $30. This is very much in the "drink now" category with its bright, juicy fruit and immediate appeal. Think plummy fruit, earthy notes and a lighter body that can be chilled to pair with food. Already sold out at cellar door, but shop around. $30.  

Tuesday 30 April 2019

Stefano Lubiana 2017 Estate Chardonnay

Stefano and Monique Lubiana's 25-hectare estate overlooks the River Derwent at Granton, half an hour north of Hobart. With a focus on chardonnay and pinot noir, it produces some of Tasmania's finest estate wines- and is certified organic and biodynamic. This new release is hugely impressively, using fruit grown from two different terroirs on the one vineyard, one grey gravelly loam over clay and the other red loam over gravel. There is a distinct minerality akin to Chablis to be found here in a wine of delightful balance. Citrus and stone fruit notes, mellow oak and chilled tannins combine to create a wine that is both stylish and food-friendly.$58.

Saturday 20 April 2019

La Villa 2018 Savagnin

La Villa is a tiny family wine producer run by Marcus and Gail Burns at Spreyton in the north-west of Tasmania that used to be called Emilia, until locals from the Emilia-Romagna part of Italy from which they had taken their inspiration ojected and forced a change of branding. The wines, with Fran Austin and Shane Holloway as consultants, are of high quality across the board but this is particularly interesting; a crisp, dry white made from the savagnin grape that originates in the Jura region of France. This is the first vintage of savagnin from La Villa - and to my knowledge the only one in Tasmania - and it has produced a dry white that's both aromatic and minerally. Delicious drinking for $30.  

Saturday 13 April 2019

42 South 2018 Rosé

Frogmore Creek winemaker Alain Rousseau is in the zone right now, producing some very fine wines across the winery's portfolio. 42°S is the central latitude of Tasmania and reflects the cool-climate vineyards in which the grapes are grown. This is one of those rare rosé wines that is actually a blend of red and white grapes; in this case 87% pinot noir, 8% chardonnay and 5% pinot gris. It is bright, fresh and fruity but with a crisp dry finish. Perfect with a Lebanese mezze plate. $30. 

Friday 5 April 2019

Cash & Co. Francis Freeling Vintage Brut Cuvée

Former sommelier Joseph Burton now runs his own wine distribution company and has just released the first wine he has crafted: a Tasmanian sparkling from the 2013 vintage. He sourced some undisgorged wine (50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir) from a Tamar Valley producer and then worked with another estate to create the dosage, blend the finished product and give the wine 67 months on lees before release. The end result is impressive, an edgy, straw-coloured and complex sparkling wine that has an impressive mousse and some tart freshness, along with mushroom/brioche complexity. The back story concerns Tasmanian bushranger Martin Cash and the convict ship the Francis Freeling. This is a project that has come together very impressively. Tasmanian artist Luke Wagner designed the label. $56. 

Thursday 28 March 2019

Stoney Vineyard 2105 Cabernet Sauvignon by Domaine A

The Stoney Vineyard in the Coal River Valley is one of Tasmania's gems - a little hot spot where cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux grape varieties can be ripened on a regular basis. The 2015 vintage was a small one - most of the fruit went into the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon - so it will pay not to dilly dally if you want some of this. Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is an assemblage of Bordeaux varieties including cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. It is crafted in small batches employing traditional techniques including open-vat fermentation, regular racking and hand plunging. It is matured in seasoned French oak barriques for 24 months before being released. This vintage is brilliantly textural with impressive Bordelais earthiness and savoury funk. Founder Peter Althaus has now sold out to Moorilla, so Conor van der Reest will be responsible for future vintages. Great value for $38.

Monday 18 March 2019

Freycinet Vineyard 2016 Chardonnay

I'm a little late to the party with this one, but it is yet another stellar example of the winemaking skills of Claudio Radenti at Freycinet on Tasmania's East Coast. This is definitely Burgundian in style with 100% barrel ferment, mainly older French casks and periodic lees stiring. The end result is a wine of complexity without being overtly woody. There is plenty of fresh citrusy, peachy fruit here, allied to grapefruit crispness and a long, intense finish. Seriously classy and an excellent match for poultry and pork dishes, or perhaps a veal marsala. This is so good - and impeccably balanced - that it is under priced, if anything. A bargain at $38.

Thursday 14 March 2019

Resolution Vineyard 2018 Pinot Noir

Resolution Vineyard is one of the most southerly in Tasmania, and one of the smallest, producing only tiny quantities of pinot noir. Located at Middleton in the d'Entrecasteaux Channel, it is named for Captain James Cook's vessel HMS Resolution, which explored the Southern Ocean that the vineyard overlooks back in 1777. This is a sturdy example of Tasmanian pinot with savoury and sour cherry flavours and savoury overtones with plenty of length. There's a lot palate interest here and this one should cellar well. $30.

Friday 22 February 2019

Home Hill 2018 Unwooded Chardonnay

The Bennett family at Home Hill in the Huon Valley are best known for their stellar pinot noirs, which win swags of serious awards, particularly for the flagship Kelly's Reserve. This is a very different beast to those complex wines, a simple drink-now chardonnay that is fruit-driven and made from some of the oldest vineyards on the family estate, planted in 1993. You'll find delightful floral aromas and then citrus and stone fruit flavours on a super-refreshing palate. I bought a glass of this, then a bottle. Excellent with a mild Indian vegetable curry. $24.

Sunday 17 February 2019

Winter Brook 2018 Riesling

Hard work has helped make Dutch immigrants Frank and Nicole Huisman a success story in the booming Tasmanian wine industry. The couple quit city life in Amsterdam and bought a small vineyard at Loira in the Tamar Valley in 2000. They have expanded from using a consultant to making their own wines from scratch. This is dryish riesling is made from 100% free-run juice and has floral and citrus notes to the fore with hints of candied fruits. Beautifully balanced and very easy to drink. $28.     

Friday 8 February 2019

Holm Oak 2018 The Protege Pinot Noir

Affordable pinot noir is an increasingly elusive beast. Affordable cool-climate pinot noir from Tasmania is even rarer. Cheap pinots often seem to be soft dry reds without a hint of pinosity. Under $20 - forget it. This one is five bucks above the line, but well worth sampling. It's bright and juicy with plenty of bright red fruit flavours, probably not destined for for the long haul, but who cares? This is a terrific summer quaffer that can be enjoyed chilled. Good work from husband and wife team Tim and Bec Duffy. $25.  

Friday 1 February 2019

Hughes & Hughes 2018 Rosé

Brothers Jonny and Matthew Hughes are making some intriguing wines under both the Newstone and Hughes & Hughes labels; wines that make a statement and are little rough around the edges - but all the better for that. Think a vinous equivalent of the Ramones. This blend of 90% merlot and 10% pinot noir from the Coal River Valley was barrel fermented with five different yeasts, matured on lees in tank and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Chill; drink. Repeat. Dangerously drinkable this one. $30.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Tasmanian Organic Wines 2017 Pinot Noir

A serious textural pinot noir with plenty of oomph from an organic producer going it alone in the remote Liffey Valley in the foothills of the Great Western Tiers. The two hectares of vines have been farmed organically by the Cairns family since 1991 and the grapes are hand-tended and hand-picked. There is plenty of fruit intensity here, along with layers of flavours and hints of appealing rusticity. Seriously good and one that pinotphiles will want to check out. $38.50.     

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Goaty Hill 2018 Riesling

A few years ago I used to be on the judging panel for the Taste of Tasmania and Festivale wine awards. As regular as clockwork this would be either a trophy winner, or gold medalist. It is reliably one of Tasmania's finest dry rieslings with lashings of racy acid and zesty lemon and lime juice notes. Made by two families in the Tamar Valley, it comes in at 12.5% alcohol and is a perfect partner for fresh oysters or pan-fried Tassie flathead. $32.  

Saturday 5 January 2019

Sinapius 2018 Esme Rouge

We should all be drinking a lot more wine made in this style; fresh, bright and perfect for an Australian summer. Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice have come up with another winner with this young estate-grown, close-planted gamay from Pipers River that is wild fermented, underwent traditional whole cluster carbonic maceration for three weeks, sees just a smidgen of old oak and undergoes no fining or filtration. The end result is lusciously juicy with red cherry and spice notes, fresh acidity and plenty of length. You could even chill this on a warm day. $38.