As the taxi comes up over the hill to cross the illuminated Tasman Bridge into Hobart, the clouds above the most southern major city in Australia are lit up like Gotham City… Dark MOFO is in town (courtesy of the inimitable David Walsh at MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art) and the place is alive. Fresh food, local wine and spirits, music, art and live performances abound in this little city with a population of roughly just 215,000. Hobart is a beautiful city – the second oldest in Australia after Sydney – and sits at the base of Mt Wellington (1,271m). This small part of Tasmania is just the start of the rest of the isle.
In town for just four days for the express purpose of exploring in depth the wine and spirits industry in Tasmania, the first morning begins at 10am at Frogmoore Creek winery with 1994 Clover Hill sparkling (18.8 points) and… Click To Tweet
For a region that produces just 1% of Australia’s annual wine production (smaller even than WA which contributes a tiny 3.5% of annual crush) the winemakers in Tasmania are responsible for some of the most delicious, juicy, complex yet user-friendly Pinots, and for the most pristine, layered and elegant sparkling wines than maybe any other region in Australia. Quite a feat.
Some comparisons between Tasmania and the ‘main land’ wine production to help illustrate just how tiny and quality driven the Taswegians are: the average annual production in Tasmania is 7,800 tonnes, VS 1,530,000 tonnes for the main land. Whilst main land Australia has 93% of wines produced costing under $15, Tasmania produces none at below $15 – ie 100% of their wines are $15 or more. Only 7% of main land Australian wines produced are over $15.
Twice our fortunate group of eight Sommeliers, writers and buyers from around Australia was treated to at least 18 (although many more were open and available to taste) wines, looking through Pinot Noir and sparkling respectively. Quite frankly, the standard coming out of Tasmania is nothing short of thrilling. With not a score below 17.8 points, the majority of wines came in at an average score of 18 points – staggering when you consider the average price point sits around $20-$25.
The topic of terroir was broached many times – it seems that all of the winemakers were united in this – Tasmania is very much about “site site site.” “…the best vineyards may not have even been planted yet” stated Nat Fryer from Jansz wines.
Perhaps the most obvious thing to come from the pinot noir lineups, was the expression of pristine pinot fruit. All of the wines (bar none) showed a wonderful plushness about the fruit. The mouthfeel across the board was lush and plump. The pick of the wines was a hard choice between the Domaine A 2009 Pinot Noir (18.6 points), and the Dalrymple CV90 Pinot Noir 2012 (18.5 points).
Many Tasmanian wines don’t make it off the island, so it was no surprise to be stumped when perusing the wine list at a local bar. A random choice yielded great results, so I tried it again. And again. Never was there a disappointing wine – and they were coming in at around $8-$11 per glass. Ah Tassie…