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The Taste Of Tasmania

By Alex Russell on May 18, 2012 in Food

I recently spent a week in Tasmania for a bit of R&R but still managed to drag the girlfriend around some wine regions for work. She’s a good sport and put up with me stopping at just about every single winery we passed.

We all know some Tasmanian labels: Jansz and Ninth Island will spring to mind for most wine lovers. Some of you will also know places like Clover Hill, Freycinet and Bay of Fires too. But there are a lot of labels that you don’t see much of up here on the mainland that blew me away.

The Regions

Up north, around Launceston, you’ll find the Tamar Valley region. Most of the wineries here fall on a loop that you can drive in one or two days. On the east coast, Freycinet is awesomely scenic, while down around Hobart, you’ll find the Huon Valley. Unfortunately we missed out on some of the Hobart wineries as they only seem to open on weekdays, which was a bit weird (it is Tassie though!).

The Grapes

In the whites, you’ll find some delicious, zingy Rieslings, very subtle Pinot Gris, Sauv Blancs that aren’t overly grassy (unlike Adelaide Hills, for example) and Chardonnays that vary from unwooded Chablis-like styles right up to the 100% malolactic, barrel-fermented monsters. And how can I forget the Gewurztraminers, with their sensational odours of Turkish delight?

In the reds, it’s mostly Pinot Noir. Being a very cool climate region, they’re subtle and elegant, but there are some amazingly complex Pinots there too. Some producers toy with Cabernet and Merlot, with the very rare Shiraz in there too.
Of course, the sparklings are also phenomenal.

The Wines To Try

In the sparklings, the standouts were the Arras Grand Vintage 2003 ($75ish and absolutely worth it – better than most of the French stuff at that price), the Clover Hill (Princess Mary’s wedding wine!) and the Freycinet Radenti. The Jansz drops are sensational value for money too.

Springvale has some of the best Chardonnays you’ll try, from the fruit-driven regular drop to the complex and extremely well made Reserve Chardonnay. The Freycinet Chardonnay was also off the charts.

Milton has a sensational Gewurz (you just want to keep smelling it), as well as an awesome Riesling, and Goaty Hill wines are also worth trying.

The two producers that really stood out for me though were Stoney Rise (and the reserve label, Holyman) and Moore’s Hill, both owner-operated. The whole Stoney Rise range is right up there in terms of quality (some of the best Pinots and Chardys I’ve tried in a while) and value for money. The Moore’s Hill wines are all great, but the 2009 Pinot Noir ($30ish) was the pick of the trip for me – funky, feral, animalistic – everything a Pinot should be. Don’t hesitate to get a dozen of them because won’t be around for long.

The final heads up for me are the Glaetzer-Dixon wines – a Riesling (called Uberblanc), two Pinots (Avancé and Reveur) and a Shiraz (Mon Pere). There are some cheeky stories behind some of the names and the quality is brilliant. In fact, the Shiraz just picked up a coveted award, the Jimmy Watson trophy, so it’ll be in short supply.

Unfortunately, not a lot of it makes it to the mainland, as there is so little of it around. If you’re interested in these, you may have to order them direct from the wineries, but they are most definitely worth it.

Oh, and if you’re into technology as well as wine, you can find me on Twitter under @OzWineGuy.