Thursday 31 December 2020

Chatto 2019 Marion's Pinot Noir


Jim Chatto is the man with the Midas touch. Even when things go horribly wrong, he is still able to produce outstanding wines. The Marion's Pinot Noir is a one-off release after smoke from bushfires wiped out the 2019 vintage in his Huon Valley vineyard. Chatto was still able to produce three excellent pinots including this one from Marion's Vineyard, in the Tamar Valley, just north of Launceston. This is in the Central Otago spectrum, powerful but with its own savoury structural subtleties. It should cellar brilliantly - but with only 230 cases made it might pay to move quickly. $65.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Gala Estate 2020 Sauvignon Blanc


Gala Estate is the second-oldest family business in Tasmania, having transitioned from farming to wine production. The wines are on a very fast upward rise. This is a delicious aromatic wine for summer enjoyment with gooseberry and passionfruit flavours to the fore and minimal herbal notes. Fresh and clean with a brisk acid finish this would pair well with fresh crayfish, scallops or salads. $32.

Monday 21 December 2020

Wolfe At The Door 2020 RGG


The Wolfe at the Door range from Wellington & Wolfe duo Hugh McCullough and Natalie Fryar comprises fun, affordable blends. Billed as "natural and no fuss" the blends will change each year, depending on the fruit, the season, and the batches. This is a bright, crunchy wine with colourful packaging that's perfect for summer quaffing. This blend comprises iesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer that is unfined, unfiltered and made with minimal so2. Dry, textural and dangerously drinkable. $25.

Sunday 6 December 2020

Hughes & Hughes 2020 Dunkel Spritz


Here's a delicious pet nat for chilled summer enjoyment. The Mewstone vineyards are in the south of the state but the fruit for this Hughes & Hughes offering comes from dornfelder grapes grown at White Rock vineyard in the state's north-west, picked at 11 baume and then whole-bunch pressed. Bottled during primary ferment to capture the bubbles; unfined and unfiltered. Low in alcohol at 11.9% and a deliciously refreshing choice for enjoying on the back verandah on a summer evening. It is vibrantly aromatic with berry fruit flavours, gentle fizz and subtle hits of sourness. $35. 

Friday 27 November 2020

Kate Hill 2012 Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir


Talented Kate Hill sourced the fruit for this very agreeable sparkling wine from vineyards in the Coal and Huon valleys in the far south of Tasmania. The 2012 vintage delivered low yields and generous natural acidity and while this wine has spent close to eight years on lees for added complexity it retains youthful perkiness and fresh citrus fruit flavours along with some yeasty creaminess on the finish. Complex and rewarding. $47.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Moores Hill 2020 Pinot Rosé


As the weather gets warmer the more we need savoury but refreshing rosés like this new release from Moores Hill in the Tamar Valley. Family-owned Moores Hill is Tasmania's first 100% solar powered winery and this is made from pinot noir, a grape that thrives on the Apple Isle. Think freshly cut watermelon and strawberries and cream flavours on a dry palate with driving, crisp acidity. This needs to be chilled to be seen at its best and was a very good partner for spicy chicken wings. $30. 

Sunday 15 November 2020

Bay of Fires 2019 Pinot Noir


Bay of Fires is one of Tasmania's most reliable premium producers, sourcing fruit from some of the state's finest vineyards. This 20th-vintage release may be a little young for aficionados, but it already stands out as a high-quality cool-climate pinot noir. The fruit for this vintage was sourced from the warmer East Coast, which makes it more approachable with red strawberry berry fruit flavours to the fore along with some soft spice. There is plenty of length and weight here, along with immediate drinkability. Good work from Penny Jones and team. $62.  

Monday 9 November 2020

Craigie Knowe 2019 Cabernet Merlot


The East Coast of Tasmania is among the warmer regions of the island state and vineyards here are able to get ripe red varieties that might struggle elsewhere on the island. Craigie Knowe is a proven performer with vines that were planted over 40 years ago. This is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot that offers extremely good drinking and surprising intensity. It has plenty of flavour and structure but is laid-back and easy to enjoy. Hand plunged twice daily for nine days, the wine was then transferred to French oak barriques and matured in barrel for 12 months prior to blending and finishing for bottling. Dark fruits, vanilla and herbs and spices come together beautifully. $35.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Boomer Creek 2019 Rosé

Boomer Creek, a relatively new producer on Tasmania's east coast at Little Swanport, has impressed with recent releases - and has just opened a spectacular cellar door. First settled in the early 1800s, the family property derives its name from the local wildlife, with a ‘boomer’ being a large male kangaroo. In addition to the vineyard there are also fine wool Merino sheep, Hampshire sheep for the lamb market and stud classic and miniature Herefords, along with an olive grove. The vineyard was planted in 2012 and 2013 and this dry rosé, made from pinot noir grapes, is a standout with pale cherry and strawberry fruit notes and bright acidity on the finish. The perfect picnic wine, pair with tuna dishes, or delicious enjoyed on its own. $28.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Domaine A 2017 Lady A Sauvignon Blanc

Here's a wine for aficionados. While most sauvignon blancs are released young, this hits the market at three years of age. And while most savvy blancs are all about the fruit and acid, this wine sells itself with its crunch and beguiling textural characters on the palate. Think a classic Bordeaux blanc: this estate-grown wine makes a virtue of its neutral flavours, defining it as a delightful dinner party choice. Think purity and elegance, with quality French oak adding those textural elements. It is fermented in 100% new French oak barriques, matured on lees for 12 months and then rested in the cellar until deemed ready for release. Something special. $66.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Hurly Burly 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon


This is one of only a handful of cabernet sauvignons made in Tasmania, where the cool weather can make the grape hard to ripen. The fruit comes a small microclimate on the state's East Coast and the end result is a very pleasant surprise; a cabernet with plenty of intensity and length in the style of left bank Bordeaux. You won't miss the label, which showcases the bug-eating guinea fowls found in many Tasmanian vineyards. Hurly Burly can often be found at Hobart Twilight Market. $35. 

Saturday 3 October 2020

Stoney Rise 2020 Gruner Veltliner


The Austrian grape variety gruner veltliner works well in cooler climates but Joe Holyman at Stoney Rise in the Tamar Valley was the first Tasmanian producer to make it commercially. As this new release illustrates - gruner is a terrific aromatic alternative to riesling or sauvignon blanc. This is delightfully fresh and enticing with floral notes, ripe pear and tropical notes along with some wisps of sea salt and crisp minerality. Lees stirring has added a cashew nutty element and the wine is unfined and unfiltered. Made entirely from estate grown fruit, this is well worth a look when you feel like trying something different. A super summer day picnic wine. $32. 

Monday 28 September 2020

Hughes & Hughes 2020 Pinot Gris


Brothers Jonny and Matt Hughes love to push the envelope when making wine, both with their Mewstone range of estate wines and the Hughes & Hughes range using grower fruit. They make "small batch wines that challenge the status quo". This is as different to most regular pinot gris as The Spice Girls are to Little Richard. Both are music but....This is at the Richard Penniman end of the scale; a blend of fruit from north-west Tasmania, the Derwent and Tamar valleys that is pinker in colour than most rosés. Natural ferments and lees aging with no fining have produced a funky, earthy, spicy wine that is thoroughly modern with a nod to wild 50s rock 'n' roll. $30.

Sunday 20 September 2020

Apogee 2016 Deluxe Vintage Brut

Serious bubbles here; worthy of a special celebration. Andrew Pirie, the man behind the Apogee label, is a Tasmanian wine pioneer who created brands including Tamar Ridge, Pipers Brook and Pirie. He now concentrates all his attention on his tiny vineyard at Lebrina in the north of the Apple Isle. This is a classic pinot noir/chardonnay/pinot meunier blend that has spent 45 months on lees. Complex and living up to Pirie's belief that northern Tasmania can produce sparkling wines that "stand tall alongside traditional Champagne cuvees". $65. 

Saturday 12 September 2020

Bay of Fires 2019 Chardonnay


The 2018 vintage of this benchmark Tasmanian chardonnay has been sold out for a while; and the 2019 is much-awaited. The news is all good, the '19 is another cracker from Penny Jones and her team; an extremely classy cool-climate chardonnay that has classic stone fruit and citrus characters and excellent length and balance. The fruit has been sourced from the East Coast and Tamar Valley. All class. $55. 

Friday 4 September 2020

House of Arras NV Blanc de Blancs

The first new release in the House of Arras range for six years is an impressively vibrant chardonnay-dominant bubbly with plenty of crowd appeal. Fruit has been sourced from Pipers River, the Derwent Valley, Coal River Valley, East Coast and Tamar Valley and this is steely and focused with grapefruit and lemon notes; nicely balanced after 30 months on lees. Very stylish and terrific value. $35.    

Saturday 29 August 2020

Haddow & Dineen 2018 Private Universe Pinot Noir

Haddow & Dineen is a small-batch wine collaboration between Bruny Island cheesemaker Nick Haddow and Josef Chromy chief winemaker Jeremy Dineen, using fruit from a small vineyard at Yorktown at the mouth of the Tamar River in northern Tasmania, where the vines grow in white quartz gravel. This is a very serious pinot with complexity and cool-climate intensity.  It is hand-picked, 50% whole-bunch fermented using indigeneous yeasts and unfined and unfiltered. This is easily among the 10 best pinots from Tasmania with savoury notes (think mushrooms and rainforest undergrowth) and structure alongside quality red fruit flavours. Very impressive. $48.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Kate Hill 2019 Shiraz

Not a lot of shiraz gets made in Tasmania. Many of the regions are simply too cold to ensure fruit ripeness and there aren't enough shiraz grapes grown to meet demand. Widely experienced Kate Hill is based in the cold Huon Valley but sourced the fruit for this rather spiffing cool-climate shiraz from the slightly warmer Coal River Valley. It well worth-seeking out with a real vivacity; red berry fruits meet savoury and spice characters with a soft. plummy finish. A delightful choice for end of winter pleasure; ours was enjoyed - and emptied - with a steak and kidney pie in front of a wood fire. $48.   

Saturday 15 August 2020

Josef Chromy 2019 Pepik Pinot Noir

Not all Tasmanian pinot noirs demand you take out an overdraft. This is a delightfully fruity entry level offering from Jeremy Dineen and the team at Josef Chromy that delivers freshness and easy drinking, along with plenty of varietal character. This is at the lighter end of the spectrum and could easily be enjoy chilled on a warm day, but it also has enough substance to pair stylishly with both vegetarian and casual dishes. Pair with a veggie burger for a real treat. For those worrying about "Pepik", it is a diminutive of Josef in his native Czech Republic. $25.   

Sunday 9 August 2020

Eddystone Point 2018 Chardonnay


The Eddystone Point label was launched in 2013 as an affordable, easy drinking counterpoint to the Bay of Fires range from the same stable. These are wines designed to offer immediate pleasure - and this one delivers in spades with clean, cool-climate fruit from the Derwent and Coal River valleys augmented by barrel ferment and partial malo that have added palate interest without detracting from the juicy white stone fruit flavours, brisk acidity and fresh length. The winery tasting notes describe this as "perky" - which sums it up rather nicely. $30.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Iron Pot Bay 2019 Pinot Grigio

There is a lot more to Tasmanian wine than bubbles, pinot noir and chardonnay. The tasters that I showed this wine were wowed both by the flavour profile and and the price. It is a lovely choice for one of those warmer evenings that are just around the corner; pleasantly herbaceous with refreshing tropical fruit salad notes on the palate. Iron Pot Bay is one of the rising stars on the Apple Isle, tucked away in the hamlet of Rowella on the left bank of the Tamar River it was planted in 1988 and purchased by the Mani family in 2013. $28. 

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Domaine A 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

A new release that is a decade old is something worth celebrating. An impressive blend of Bordeaux varieties that is very much old school in style; this is still  relatively fresh, however, with a smidgen of green herbal notes. A savoury nose with beetroot and blue cheese leads to a palate that veers between cassis and red cherry and truffles and mint. At 14% the alcohol is higher than most Bordeaux reds and this spends 36 months in French barriques (mostly new). Neither Bordeaux or Australian cabernet, this is unique and earnestly intriguing thanks to its terroir - a unique micro-climate in the Coal River Valley north of Hobart. $120.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Bream Creek 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir

I wouldn't drink this right now, if I were you. I'd tuck it away somewhere consistently cool and take a look in three or four years. Very few Tasmanian wines are designed for serious cellaring, Domaine A, maybe, and some Freycinet Estate reds, but this one has definite potential. It comes from a stable known for excellence, and at three years old is still taut and tight-wound. It's drinking fine now, but so much more lies ahead. It is complex and powerful with plenty of length and classic pinosity. It is picking up regular show trophies. $68.

Sunday 14 June 2020

Pipers Brook 2019 Gewurztraminer

There is a lot more to Tasmania than pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling wines. Many aromatic whites do well on the Apple Isle, as evidenced by this impressive gewurztraminer from the northern Pipers River region. Intensely aromatic and spicy with rose petal and lychee notes along with citrus and Turkish Delight flavours on the palate, this is made as a dry wine and would pair impressively with spicy Asian dishes. $35.     

Thursday 4 June 2020

Brown Brothers 2018 Patricia Chardonnay

The Patricia range pays tribute to Brown Brothers matriarch Patricia Brown and represents the best of the family's wine releases. These use to be purely Victorian wines, but Brown Brothers has been a major investor n Tasmania, owning both Tamar Ridge and Devil's Corner, and this tribute wine is a blend of 50% fruit from Kayena in the Tamar Valley and 50% from the Hazards on the East Coast. There is plenty of cool-climate acidity but also some impressive creamy texture among the layers of stone fruit flavours and relaxed French oak characters. A seriously stylish chardonnay - just like the lady after whom it was named. $45.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Bream Creek 2018 Pinot Noir

Tasmania is not the easiest place to make consistently great wine; with cold winters, bushfires and hail among the enemies of fine viticulture. Yet somehow, Fred Peacock at Bream Creek Vinyeard, established 46 years ago, makes consistency look absurdly easy. You never see a poor wine from Bream Creek, and yet the wines are among the more affordable from the Apple Isle. This recent release has a gorgeously aromatic nose with a bright cherry fruit allied to a long finish and impressive tannin structure. This has already swept up several show trophies and can be summed up as long, intense and beautifully balanced. One for sipping and savouring, perhaps in front of a roaring winter fire with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the stereo. $42. 

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Stargazer 2018 Chardonnay

Sam Connew has been in Tasmania for five years; via New Zealand, McLaren Vale and the Hunter Valley. This complete chardonnay from fruit grown on 20+ year-old vines at Ouse, in the upper Derwent Valley, is enough on its own to mark her as one of the stars of the Apple Isle. I recently tasted her range and this particularly won me over with fresh lemon rind characters on the nose, flinty minerality and mixed nut characters. This is the epitome of modern cool-climate chardonnay; tightly focused with citrus and white stone fruit elements in harmony with quality oak. $55.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Quiet Mutiny 2019 Venus Rising Syrah

Many Tasmanian vineyards are too cool for shiraz to ripen consistently but care and attention in the vineyard and some smart winemaking from Greer Carland have produced a very attractive young Derwent Valley syrah that's full of the joys of youth and chock-a-block with spicy, peppery characters alongside some vibrant - and very varietal - fruit notes. This is a deliciously poised cool-climate red using a fair swag of older vine fruit. The juice spent 16 days on skins and was maturation in French oak (20% new) for just under 10 months. Medium-bodied with 13% abv, judiciously put together with soft red fruit flavours and supple tannins this is well worth seeking out for anyone who enjoys Tasmanian wines. $48.

Saturday 4 April 2020

Holm Oak 2019 Arneis

Arneis is a fairly rare grape variety that originates from cool and hilly Piedmont in Italy, where is used in the wines of Roero and Langhe. Unlike many other Italian varieties it is is not widely planted elsewhere in the wine world - in fact this is the only example in Tasmania and one of only a handful in Australia. Husband and wife Tim and Bec Duffy produce an impressive example from the Tamar Valley with varietal pear and peach flavours and interesting layers of flavours. It is floral and dry and quite lean - and extremely food friendly. Pair with scallops. $28.

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Small Island 2019 Chardonnay

Former Domaine A cellarhand and Margan Wines alumni James Broinowski started in the wine business by crowdfunding support for his initial releases. He's subsequently built a reputation both as a quality winemaker and a distiller and is one of the finalists for the 2020 Young Guns of Wine Awards. This is an outstanding cool-climate chardonnay made from fruit grown at Saltwater River on the Tasman Peninsula. With just 12.8% alcohol and no oak this just oozes freshness and would be marvelous paired with fresh Tasmanian seafood. Extended lees contact has added textural elements to the crisp, citrusy fruit. $34. You'll also find this at Drink Co. in Salamanca. 

Thursday 19 March 2020

Ghost Rock 2019 P3 Rosé

A most unusual blend from one of the rising star producers in Tasmania; a delightful dryish rosé that is a field blend of pinot meunier, pinot gris and pinot noir from the Cradle Coast - outside Devonport. Those three grape varieties are rarely blended together but this works brilliantly with a vivacious nose of fresh-picked flowers and wild strawberries and a juicy palate that screams “drink me”. Pair with lightly spiced vegetarian Indian dishes like bhajis and pakoras. $30.  

Sunday 15 March 2020

Stargazer 2019 rada

Another stellar effort from Sam Connew, the former Wirra Wirra and Tower Estate winemaker who is making herself very much at home in Tasmania's Coal River Valley. This is a wild-fermented blend of pinot meunier and pinot noir from Pipers River and Coal River Valley that is is made very much in the style of Burgundy's passetoutgrains. It is a style that is very much in vogue; light-to-medium bodied with textural interest and a lightness of touch. You can enjoy this crisp and crunchy number slightly chilled on a warm day, or at cellar temperature with pasta dishes, or perhaps a late-season picnic. $38.  

Monday 24 February 2020

Gala Estate 2019 White Label Sauvignon Blanc

Tasmania is best known for bubbles and pinot noir, but sauvignon blanc can also shine in the right site and this is a stellar estate-grown example from Gala Estate on the East Coast. This is really interesting drinking (quite reminiscent of Sancerre) served chilled - but not too chilled. It is impressively aromatic with tropical fruit salad aromas, while the palate is bright, crisp and fresh with dry mineral notes and impressive acid on the finish. You could match this with anything from a Thai salad to pan-fried flathead. Very good value for $32.

Monday 3 February 2020

Tasmanian Organic Wines 2018 Bye's Pinot Noir

Organic, minimal-intervention, hand-picked and small-batch are all current buzz phrases in the wine industry, but the team at Tasmanian Organic Wines has been right across the current fashion for close to two decades, crafting tiny quantities of high-quality pinot noir in the Liffey Valley, down the road from Deloraine. The vineyard was planted by Ian Cairns in 1999 and has been farmed organically ever since. Now a gamay has been added to the range (review to follow). The new-release 2018 pinot noir is right in the zone, with crisp nights and a long ripening period resulting in a wine of style and elegance with red berry flavours augmented by deli aromas, mushroom notes and a clean, bright acid finish. The classic match for this delightfully structured pinot would be roast duck, but this would also pair brilliantly with stuffed mushrooms. $41.50.