Up in the north of Tasmania, just south of Devonport, you can find Lower Barrington, an area not typically associated with growing grapes and making wines. But the north west of Tasmania deserves greater credit than it gets. Sure, the Tamar Valley and the Coal River Valley get most of the plaudits, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Consider, though, the efforts of others around the state, to make great wines in a great location.
Barringwood Vineyard is not alone in the north west, sharing the region with Ghost Rock Vineyard and Lake Barrington Vineyard. However, Barringwood is surely the highest achiever in the region. Begun as a hobby vineyard for home wines, the vineyard and property inevitably grew to become the passion of Judy and Ian Robinson, who sold to current owners Neville and Vanessa Bagot. There is now a cellar door, cellar and more extensive vineyards on site. My first encounter with the wines of Barringwood came in the form of their sparkling wines made, I am informed, by Jeremy Dineen of Josef Chromy.
The 2011 Barringwood Classic Cuvée has got a stonking label and bottle design, impressive before you even open it. The cork is enclosed in a cage but with no foil wrapper, merely an understated thin, black tape. The label is equally arresting. Whoever is designing these bottles has earned their money! The cage holds down a DIAM cork which I find very good – I hope to see more of these rolled out. The DIAM is a man-made compressed cork which is not susceptible to the cork taint (and wine spoilage) of traditional cork. The back label gives the wine as 11.6% alcohol, the grapes as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
The colour of the wine is a translucent gold, with a gold rim. The wine is made in the traditional method, and from a single vineyard. There are slow-rising bubbles with a fine sparkling mousse, all very enticing. The nose shows aromas of cream, biscuit base, lemon curd, lemon zest, autolysis and soft, buttered toast. There are hints of mineral and wet rock, the dense warmth of friand, and as it warms, nectarine, nectarine skin – very ripe. On the taste, the wine shows a clean acid balance containing cream, smooth biscuit crumble, minerals, soft subtle rhubarb, rose water (fragrant, floral, sweet). There is something a little drying, like a crumbly cheesecake base. It’s got dabs of lemon meringue pie in there – the silkiness of really good quality meringue.
I tasted the wine with a tasting plate of smoked salmon, and chorizo, topped with a crème fraiche and horseradish sauce. I strongly recommend you do the same.
Enjoy this wine, and if I see one again, I hope I beat you to it!