Wednesday 29 December 2021

Yes Miss 2021 Pinot Noir


This new release marks the winemaking debut of 16-year-old Oscar Holyman, son of Joe and Lou Holyman from Stoney Rise in the Tamar Valley. Oscar was being home schooled by his mother during a Covid lockdown and called her Miss Holyman. He convinced his Dad to buy in a tonne of grapes to start his business and he's off to a great start with a vibrant, fresh and coherent young pinot that was made from destemmed fruit and spent four months in older oak before being released a couple of weeks back. Oscar has made winemaking look easy. Medium-bodied, wild berries and spice notes; food friendly and very drinkable. For sale at cellar door. $40.     

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Craigie Knowe 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon


The warmer east coast of Tasmania is one of a handful regions on the island state where cabernet sauvignon and its fellow Bordeaux varieties will reliable ripen. This brand new release uses fruit sourced from the 40+-year-old Craigie Knowe vineyard on the Freycinet Coast and would be a very amiable companion for a Christmas turkey. Cabernet has been blended with small amounts of cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot to produce a very stylish medium-bodied red wine with dark berry fruits aided and abetted by maturation in French oak. Nice tannin structure as well $53. 

Thursday 9 December 2021

Devil's Corner 2019 Resolution Pinot Noir

So you like your pinot noir with a combination of macho swagger and suave style? You've come to the right place. The Resolution range is the middle range of wines from Devil's Corner, owned by Brown Brothers and a perennial provider of good-value wines from Tasmania. Made from fruit grown on the Hazards vineyard - next to the cellar door, this has plenty of power, allied to dark cherry and spice notes and length on the palate. On the gruntier end of the scale when it comes to Tassie pinot, but still very classy. $35.


Monday 29 November 2021

Moores Hill 2020 Riesling


Moores Hill is a boutique, family-operated winery in the Tamar Valley that has a formidable reputation for producing delightful cool-climate rieslings. Established in 1997, Moores Hill is 120 metres above sea level and is one of the coolest sites on the West Tamar. This is a delicious summer wine, alive with grapefruit and lemon notes, with plenty of length and lashings of vibrant acidity, although it has settled comfortably into its skin in recent months. Pair with oysters, a seafood platter or just enjoy on the veranda after work. $35.

Sunday 21 November 2021

Bream Creek 2015 Cuvee Traditionelle


Tasmania's reputation for stellar sparkling wine releases is growing all the time; and this was one of the stars of the recent Effervesence festival; an impressive blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes that have spent five years on lees building complexity and palate interest. From a very good vintage in Tasmania, this has taken the show circuit by storm with a collection of trophies and medals. Floral and aromatic, crisp and dry with citrus, white stone fruit and yeasty elements in impressive harmony, this would be a very good choice as an aperitif for a family Christmas celebration, or enjoyed on the beach with freshly shucked oysters. $48.

Sunday 14 November 2021

MacLean Bay 2021 Pinot Rosé


Summer is just around the corner (even though it is snowing in parts of Tasmania today). This is the perfect wine choice for enjoying well chilled on a warmer day; a delightfully frisky pinot noir rosé from a vineyard at Bicheno on the east coast. Made from 100% estate-grown pinot noir that was handpicked, this has some lovely raspberry/strawberry and cream fruit characters but finishes with crisp dry acid on the palate. Perfect for a picnic, or enjoying with a Lebanese mezze platter. $28.

Monday 8 November 2021

Apogee 2018 Deluxe Vintage Rosé


This was one of the many shining lights of last week's Effervescence 2021 Tasmania sparkling wine festival. Apogee means "peak achievement" or "highest point" and is the boutique label of one of the island state's winemaking pioneers, Andrew Pirie. A blend of pinot noir (89%), chardonnay (16%) and pinot meunier (5%) it has a delightful freshness and vibrancy with red berry fruit characters allied to hints of salty sea spray. Oxidatively whole-bunch pressed with a small portion aged in older French oak, it spent just under two years on lees to add complexity. Flavours range from raspberry to blood orange with appealing grip on the palate. Food friendly, too. $75.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Marco Lubiana 2020 Chardonnay


The new generation is making a big impact. Marco Lubiana is the son of Stefano Lubiana, one of Tasmana's star wine producers, and is farming the organic and biodynamic Lucille vineyard at Cradoc in the Huon Valley (formerly known as Panorama). This is Marco's second Lucille chardonnay and it is hugely impressive; quintessentially cool climate and very cohesive. This is hand-picked, whole-bunch pressed, then aged in French oak with no fining. Made in tiny quantities so be quick, or miss out. $50

Saturday 23 October 2021

Tolpuddle Vineyard 2020 Pinot Noir


Tolpuddle Vineyard was established in 1988 and has gone from strength to strength over the past decade since being sold to the team behind Shaw + Smith in the Adelaide Hills. The vineyard is just outside Richmond in the Coal River Valley has light silica soil over sandstone that produce wines of style and elegance. This is undoubtedly one of Tasmania's finest pinots - and sells out soon after release. It is aromatic, medium bodied with savoury and spice notes and impeccable length. Vigorous vineyard work results in a wine of vigour. $95.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Ponting 2020 Mowbray Boy Pinot Noir


To be brutally honest, I did not have high hopes for this wine. Ricky Ponting is well-known for his cricketing feats, less so for his knowledge of viticulture, while winemaker Ben Riggs usually concentrates his efforts on warm-climate grapes like shiraz. I'm very happy to have been proved wrong. This is a very nifty young Tamar Valley pinot noir made from fruit grown a few sixes away from where Ponting grew up in the Launceston suburb of Mowbray. The duo have come up trumps. very good drinking: vibrant, crunchy and varietal. $36.   

Friday 8 October 2021

Derwent Estate 2021 Sauvignon Blanc


Tasmania is not best known for its sauvignon blancs but the grape variety can shine when planted in the right spots. Derwent Estate is a spectacular site overlooking the River Derwent north of Hobart. It produces top-quality fruit, much of which has been sold in the past the big producers. This is the perfect choice for spring wine enjoyment - fresh, aromatic and vibrant with ripe tropical fruit flavours like kiwifruit and pineapple to the fore. Crisp, dry and zingy and a good match with shellfish, pan-fried flathead or simply on the back deck after a tough day. Enjoy in its youth; lightly chilled $35. 

Thursday 30 September 2021

One Monkey 2019 Here Comes A Freight Train Pinot Noir


Bushfires in 2019 meant Paul and Gilli Lipscombe from Sailor Seeks Horse in the Huon Valley were unable to produce their usual stellar pinots and chardonnays because of smoke taint. So they cast their net for fruit a little wider, called on the help of friends within the industry and launched two wines using bought-in fruit from the north of the state under the One Monkey label. The fruit for this savoury number comes from Bird vineyard (48%) in Pipers River, owned by Pipers Brook, with the balance coming from Joe Holyman’s new block (21%), Goaty Hill (18%), Ghost Rock (11%) and Clover Hill (2%). Partial whole bunch adds texture and palate interest. $50.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Pooley 2021 Pinot Grigio


With summer fast approaching lovers of fresh, crisp grigios will want to get their hands on a bottle or two of this new release from one of the best family wine producers in Tasmania. This lively young Coal River Valley wine is impressively floral on the nose with nashi pear and granny smith apple flavours on the palate, along with fresh acidity and hints of pebbly minerality and an attractive candle wax texture. This is long, lean and lovely and would pair with a mushroom quiche or a roasted chicken dish. $36.

Monday 20 September 2021

Tolpuddle 2020 Pinot Noir


The Tolpuddle vineyard in the Coal River Valley has long been regarded as one of the finest vineyards in Tasmania, producing chardonnay and pinot noir fruit of exceptional quality. For the past few years the vines have been under the care of the team from Adelaide Hills standout Shaw+Smith, and the wines have never looked better. This is a brand-new release, but already in short supply. It has a beguiling bouquet and is medium-bodied with some hints of spice and lovely pure fruit, along with youthful vibrancy. One for a special occasion. $95.

Saturday 11 September 2021

Charles Rueben Estate 2019 Cabernet Rosé

Charles Reuben Estate is a family-owned vineyard and micro distillery, tucked away at Tea Tree in the Coal River Valley, just a short drive from Hobart. There is also an on-site bed and breakfast option - The Pinot Cottage. The 2019 vintage was a difficult one in Tasmania, but this has come up well; without too much intrusive acid. It is fragrant and has brisk but balanced acidity along with some savoury notes on the palate, which has a tangy sweet and sour/cranberry and apple peel vibe going on. Drink soon, well chilled. $29.  

Saturday 4 September 2021

Frogmore Creek 2020 Chardonnay


Given Frogmore Creek winemaker Alain Rousseau's French history, it should come as no surprise that this delicious Coal River Valley chardonnay could be mistaken for a Macon of Cote Chalonnaise when tasted blind. Purity and vibrancy are the hallmarks here in a genuine cool-climate wine with white stone fruit flavours to the fore with just a smidgen of hazelnutty oak characters in a key support role.  Minimal intervention, lees contact but no malolactic fermentation. Textural and well balanced; serious but fun. $38.

Monday 30 August 2021

Domaine A 2018 Lady A Sauvignon Blanc


And now for something completely different. This Coal River Valley sauvignon blanc does not taste like any other savvv b that you've sampled. For a start, it is released at three years of age, and it is more savoury than fruity. Originally made as a tribute to the white wines of Bordeaux, this is a serious white wine, so serious that it probably deserves a philosophy degree. In the olden days it would have been labelled fumé blanc because it sees a fair whack of new French oak. It's made from fruit grown on a single hectare black at the Stoney Vineyard with 30-year-old vines. It is tight, taut, textural and just a little funky. It deserves to be enjoyed with food; particularly poultry dishes. $66.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Josef Chromy 2019 Block 103 Pinot Noir


Tasmanians are spoilt for choice when it comes to high-quality pinot noirs but this limited-edition release is a serious head turner. Impeccably balanced, it is among the finest pinots the state has produced, and is worth every cent of the apparently hefty price tag. Unfined, unfiltered and bursting with quality fruit - sourced from one of the best blocks on Chromy's Relbia estate - and subdued oak, this is still very youthful with dark berry and cherry notes and poised spice characters. Long, textural and hugely impressive in its completeness. 96 points from me. $120. 

Sunday 15 August 2021

Kate Hill 2018 Shiraz


To discover a Tasmanian shiraz is unusual; to discover an outstanding one is even rarer. Thanks to a warm ripening season in the Coal River Valley, from where the fruit was sourced, here we have a medium-bodied shiraz with plenty of flavour. There[s a melange of red berry fruits to the fore, subtle French oak and a lovely, long structure. It finishes soft and smooth with enough weight to match with wintery red meat dishes. I sometimes work at Kate's cellar door and may be biased,  but I know a good wine when I see one - and this hits the spot. Grab a bottle before it sells out. $50.    

Saturday 7 August 2021

Henskens Rankin 2014 Blanc de Blanc


Frieda Henskens and David Rankin hand-craft tiny parcels of Tasmanian fruit into outstanding sparkling wines that are full of personality. You'll pay handsomely for the privilege, but the wines really are something special. This Kiwi-Australian team started out in Tasmania just a decade ago and this 100% chardonnay has spent several years on lees building intensity and complexity. The key for me, though, is is freshness and vibrancy. The fruit is sourced from a sustainably-minded grower at Stringybark in the north of the state. Think stone fruit, brioche, bright acid and immense and immediate palate appeal. $110. 95 points from me.

Thursday 29 July 2021

Sinapius 2019 Close-Planted Chardonnay

Sinapius is one of the boutique gems of the wine industry in Tasmania, producing high-quality, innovative wines in tiny quantities. This is a very impressive cool-climate chardonnay - 100% estate grown at Pipers River and using nine different clones. Whole-bunch pressed and wild yeast fermented, this underwent full malo, spent 12 months in French oak and was unfined and unfiltered. This is a serious wine, demanding contemplation (or a Jason Isbell song). Rich but elegant on the palate with white pear and grapefruit notes and pebbly minerality, Really lovely. Only 7291 bottles were produced so move quickly. $57.

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Bream Creek 2021 Pinot Rosé


You know those warm days when you need something cool, lively and refreshing to sip on. Here's the answer: a new-release rosé made by Bream Creek from grapes grown by label owner Fred Peacock on the south-east coast of Tasmania. Made from 100% pinot noir, this is like drinking liquid strawberries and cream but finishes crisp and dry: a wine that offers both summer drinkability and food-friendliness. Pair this with a Lebanese mezze plate and also check out the equally refreshing 2021 Pinot Grigio. $31.

Sunday 11 July 2021

Handpicked 2020 Trial Batch Riesling


There is increasing interest in rieslings from Tasmania with uber negociant Handpicked Wines the latest on the bandwagon with a impressive debut release using fruit from Native Point at Swan Bay in the Tamar Valley. Winemaker Pete Dillon has captured the essence of Tassie riesling with a limited release available at Handpicked’s cellar doors in Sydney and Melbourne and online. This is very flavoursome, with excellent acidity and citrus peel flavours. The fruit was whole-bunch pressed into a large concrete egg and then naturally fermented over three weeks. Bright, dry and slatey, with just a hint of fruit sweetness, this is a beauty if you can lay your hands on some. Pair with Thai chicken and cashew stir-fry. $29.

Sunday 4 July 2021

Roslyn 1823 2020 Pinot Noir


f you enjoy your pinot noir juicy and fruity with plenty of youthful vibrancy then you've come to the right place. Roslyn 1823 is a new producer in a very old homestead at Campania in the Coal River Valley, part of a permaculture farm operation, that has its wines made at nearby Drew Wines. Best known for its Iced Riesling, but this is another standout from the Palmer family operation. I loved the bright red fruits and food friendliness here, while French oak plays a small but important support role. Order by the dozen from the website, or look out for them at Salamanca Market. $40.    

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Kate Hill 2018 Riesling


I'll declare my conflict of interest straight away: I've done a couple of cellar door tastings at Kate Hill Wines in the Huon Valley and very much enjoy her wines. Every time this has been a shining light; a truly delicious cool-climate riesling minus aggressive youthful acid but still full of bright citrus and stone fruit characters. Crafted from fruit selected from the Derwent and Coal River valleys, it is extremely food friendly and drinking very well at three years of age. This pairs well with just about anything from a cheese platter to Thai takeaway. $32.

Sunday 20 June 2021

Chartley Estate 2020 Pinot Gris


Chartley Estate is one of those Tasmanian wineries that has a strong local following but has tended to fly a little under the radar nationally. Owned by the Kossmann family, who have a vineyard at Rowella in the west of the Tamar Valley, the current release whites - including a chardonnay and riesling - are outstanding with this one my personal favourite. Aromatic, with classic nashi pear and stone fruit characters, it sits midway between gris complexity and grigio freshness in style, finishing crisp and dry. Very food friendly, too. $29.

Sunday 6 June 2021

Clover Hill 2016 Vintage Release


Tasmania is the "go to" state for quality sparkling wines and Clover Hill has long been one of the leading producers: it is one of Australia's very few premium sparkling houses solely producing sparkling wines in the traditional method. My first thought when I tried this brand new release was that it was a grower Champagne, Yes, its that good. Chardonnay dominant, this has purity, elegance, complexity and drinkability in a definite aperitif style with citrus and brioche notes to the fore. $54.   

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Nocton Estate 2019 Merlot


I don't find that many Australian merlots that I have the desire to recommend; they can be quite bland. Even fewer from Tasmania, where the cool climate can make getting the grape variety ripe. This wine from the Coal River Valley breaks the rules, however, by delivering plenty of soft, smooth palate pleasure. It also has the advantage of being cheaper than many Tasmanian pinot noirs. Fruity and dry, this is a good match for most red meat dishes, or those containing mushrooms. Distributed by Red & White. $

Wednesday 28 April 2021

Frogmore Creek 2020 Single Block Series Chenin Block


How delicious is this? Like biting into a chilled Granny Smith apple - all crunchy and juicy and refreshing. This is one of a new series of Coal River Valley wines from Frogmore Creek winemaker Alain Rousseau, who has doubtless called on his time at Chateau de Cleray to produce a wine that has much in common with some of the better dry chenins of the Loire Valley (think Sancerre and Pouilly Fuissé). Dry and textural with apple and white peach notes, this gets 94 points from me, but is, unfortunately, in short supply. Worth begging, stealing or borrowing a bottle to pair with Tasmanian seafood. $45.

Monday 5 April 2021

Henskens Rankin 2011 Vintage Brut


The Henskens Rankin brand was founded by Frieda Henskens and David Rankin in 2010 to create distinctively Tasmanian styles of sparkling wine - and only sparkling wine. The wines tend to be complex and serious, but this chardonnay-dominated blend was also a hit with my fun-loving tasting group. A multi-regional blend using fruit from the Coal River Valley, Tasman Peninsula, north-east Tasmania and Pipers River), this has spent six years on lees and three in bottle but remains remarkably fresh, pale and minerally, with cashew nut hints. Floral and zingy, this is a serious contender in the quality stakes. $90.

Friday 26 March 2021

Craigie Knowe 2020 Riesling


Tasmania is probably best known for its stellar sparkling wines, along with its pinot noirs and chardonnays. That said, many of the island's wine producers are dab hands with aromatic white varieties, as shown here by Craigie Knowe, an east coast producer at Cranbrook with a vineyard that was planted over 40 years ago. Traditional citrus flavours are to the fore, with a hint more complexity and creaminess than is found in Clare rieslings. There is plenty of length and depth of flavour here. A new release - but in short supply and will sell out rapidly. $32.  

Friday 19 March 2021

Moores Hill 2020 Pinot Gris


The 2019 Moores Hill Pinot Gris was a phenomenon - and sold out rapidly. Its 2020 successor is a little different stylistically - a very different vintage - but you'll still have to move quickly if you want to snap some up. From Tasmania's first solar-powered wine producer in the Tamar Valley, this is partially fermented in old oak to add intrigue to the palate. Pear and white peach flavours are to the fore and there is some appealing acid on the finish. It is a lovely drink on its own, but you could also pair it with a basket of fritto misto. $35

Friday 12 March 2021

Pooley 2019 Cooinda Vale Chardonnay


The Pooley family has such a strong team of operatives across all levels of the business that it seldom puts a foot wrong and is a byword for reliability among Tasmanian wine lovers. This assertive Coal River Valley chardonnay was hand-picked, whole-bunch pressed and wild fermented before being matured in a mixture of barriques and puncheons for nine months. The end result is a classic cool-climate chardonnay with lime and Granny Smith flavours to the fore; flintiness, slightly intrusive oak and grapefuity acidity. Powerful with aging potential. Pair with roast pork and crackling. $65.

Friday 26 February 2021

Resolution Vineyard 2020 Pinot Noir

You'll have to move smartly if you want to snap up one of the best-value pinot noirs in Tasmania. Fewer than 100 cases were made in 2020 with quality high, but yields low. There was no vintage in 2019 owing to smoke taint. Crafted by Alain Rousseau at Frogmore Creek, this is made from fruit grown on a boutique vineyard at Middleton in the far south of the d'Entrecasteaux Channel in the deepest south of the state. Newly-released, this is aromatic and youthful, on the lighter side of the pinot spectrum but indisputably varietal. I likened it to a ballerina; coquettish but with an inner core strength. Pair this with pizza, or even chill it a little in the dying days of summer. $28.      

Sunday 21 February 2021

Bream Creek 2019 Riesling


Fred Peacock and his team at Bream Creek on Tasmania's south-east coast rarely put a foot wrong, and often hold back new releases until they are perfectly poised. This rich, dryish riesling is a case in point. Inspired by the classic rieslings of Germany, this hits the sweet spot between residual sugar and smart acid. Citrus and apple flavours dance a palate tango and this would pair brilliantly with Asian dishes with a hint of spice, or simple grilled Tasmanian seafood. $31.

Saturday 13 February 2021

Dalrymple 2018 Pinot Noir


If you like your pinot noir with a bit of oomph you have come to the right place. Winemaker Pete Caldwell has sourced fruit from a range of different regions in Tasmania (Pipers River, the Coal River Valley, Swansea and Ouse) to produce this assertive wine, which demands to be enjoyed with food to be seen at its best. This is a complex wine with varietal character, weight, texture and flavours of dark plums, cherries and fruit cake. This would pair well with lamb chops and spicy aubergine. $38.

Saturday 30 January 2021

Sonnen 2020 Jannis Riesling


Luke Andree is a young Tasmanian viticulturist who also makes small batch wines aside from his main gig at Mewstone Wines. This is delicious riesling named after his son, Jannis, and Jannis Melsheimer, whose family he worked with at Weingut Melsheimer in the Mosel in 2019. The Upper Tamar fruit was whole-bunch pressed and fermented sur lie in puncheons. Think light citrus, grapefuit and blood orange notes, with some phenolics and a whole lot of palate interest. $32.

Saturday 23 January 2021

Apogee Alto 2020 Pinot Gris


Andrew Pirie is the eminence gris of the wine industry in Tasmania; the man behind many labels and standout wines. It is appropriate, then, that one of the stellar wines in Pirie's tiny Apogee catalogue is a a benchmark cool-climate pinot gris that sits firmly on the Alsace side of the gris/grigio spectrum without any oily excesses. This new release is both floral and substantial with pear flavours, minerality and a fleshy softness on the finish. There is plenty of palate texture, thanks to brief skin contact and partial malo. Lovely drinking in its youth - with plenty of potential. $44.  

Friday 15 January 2021

Stefano Lubiana 2015 Brut Rosé


For over 30 years now, Steve Lubiana has been at the forefront of viticultural and wine-making innovation in Tasmania; leading the way with organic and biodynamic methods. Lubiana produces a wide range of offerings from his vineyard at Granton, just north of Hobart, including several outstanding sparkling wines.This one hits the bullseye with its style and sophistication. Made from 100% pinot noir grapes, it strikes just the right balance between red berry fruit sweetness and fresh, zingy acid and dryness on the finish. Aromatic, enticing and very classy. $58.