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Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

29 June 2015

Australia: Tasmania

Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil
downloaded from You Tube.
Australia's island state of Tasmania lies due south of Victoria (there's 450 km of ocean between Melbourne and Devonport on the north coast), and its wine-producing areas are roughly on the same longitude as the northern part of New Zealand's South Island. Vineyards are a relatively recent thing in this wildly beautiful place - present-day production essentially dates from the 1950s at the earliest, although some plots were planted before the mid 19th century. To name just two highly regarded pioneers as examples, Graham Wiltshire established Heemskerk in the 1960s and Dr. Andrew Pirie Piper's Brook Vineyard in 1974. Wine-growers/makers like them and the next generation have shown in a fairly short space of time that Tassie has fast become the cool climate region of Aus (even if on a limited scale and thus wines on the dear side), especially for aromatic white varieties, top Pinot Noir (which now accounts for almost half of varieties planted) and fine fizz too. See winetasmania.com.au and tamarvalleywineroute.com.au for more info.
So here are four well-known Tas wineries and notes on some of their wines, tasted in London and Dublin on different occasions. The AU$ prices are cellar door and £ prices as per stockists mentioned.

Tamar Ridge - Tamar Valley
Owned by Brown Brothers, their vineyards are located near Launceston in northern Tasmania and the Devil's Corner cellar is on the east coast. UK importer is ABS Wine Agencies, available from Fine Wines Direct UK and Bin Ends at the Bear among others.
2013 Tamar Sauvignon blanc – hints of gooseberry and green pepper vs a fatter riper edge, crisp and juicy with lingering green berry fruit. Au$28, £14.99
2013 Devil's Corner Riesling (from two specific vineyards) – yeasty vs oily nose with light lime fruit, quite intense and 'mineral' with tight vs oily texture; nice style. Au$20, £14.49
2010 Kayena Vineyard Riesling – complex maturing oily notes vs intense 'mineral' palate with long zesty finish, drinking nicely now but will last longer. Yum. £14.99
2011 Tamar Gewurztraminer – quite elegant lychee and rose water style, rounded and mature, drink up now. £11.49
2013 Devil's Corner Pinot Noir ("small amount of barrel ageing") – light and fruity with cherry and herby berry, soft and elegant mouth-feel with a touch of grip and tasty juicy fruit. Au$22, £15.99
2011 Pinot Noir Kayena Vineyard – showing more depth and savoury development, firmer palate yet still silky with fresh structured feel vs attractive sweet/savoury fruit, still quite closed up actually. £15.99

Jansz is a consistently very good bubbly brand made by the traditional or Champagne method, or 'Méthode Tasmanoise' as they call it on their site in typically Aussie two fingers to the French style. The proof is in the pudding as we say...
Jansz Premium Cuvée NV (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay; 2+ years lees ageing in bottle) – Nice toasty touches on the nose, elegant vs yeasty profile with crisp steely bite vs lingering oat biscuit flavours, mouthwatering and tasty finish; good stuff. Au$22.95, £13-£15 Wine Direct, ND John, Hennings.
Jansz Premium Rosé NV (up to 3 years lees ageing) – Similar in some ways, more delicate even with subtle red berry and chocolate cake notes, yeasty vs refreshing crisp finish. Yum. Au$24.95, £14.95 Wine Direct, ND John.
Jansz Vintage Cuvée 2007 (Chardy, Pinot; 4.5 years ageing)  complex nose with toasted oat biscuit, lots of rich yeasty flavours vs again very crisp and well balanced; lovely classy fizz. Au$38.95, £21-£22 Frazier's, Field & Fawcett, Slurp.

Dalrymple Vineyards
This "premium" 12 ha estate is found in the Pipers River region northeast of Launceston, was planted in the early 1990s and is now run by viticulturist / winemaker Peter Caldwell.
2011 Piper's River Estate Chardonnay – complex lees-y oaty and buttery nose, savoury and nutty palate, soft and delicate with nice maturing vs still structured profile, long tasty finish; delicious wine. Au$35, £21-£25 Free Run Juice, Australian Wine Store.

2011 Pinot Noir – perfumed sweet/savoury nose, pure and elegant, lush s/s fruit vs crunchier fresher side, light bite of tannin vs silky maturing Pinot finish. Aus$36, £25 Australian Wine Store, Free Run Juice.

Mega brand Hardy's does also do a selection of high quality limited edition wines - after all they do own some historic vineyards - and their Eileen Hardy label is among them. They're sourcing fruit for the Chardy and Pinot from Tassie...
2012 Hardy's Eileen Hardy Pinot Noir (13.5% abv) - Perfumed and floral with sweet/savoury cherry fruit, quite delicate vs concentrated too, lovely lingering floral Pinot fruit on a silky backdrop. Yum although expensive: €45 in Ireland, UK: £35 Majestic Wine.

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