Tasmania's latest white wine showcase
Tasmania’s white wine showcase happens once a year. The calendar of wine events down in Tassie is fast becoming clogged – the major events including a red wine weekend, and ‘Effervescence’, a sparkling wine weekend run for the last two Springs at Josef Chromy vineyard in Relbia, just south of Launceston. The wellspring of microbreweries, whisky distilleries, and gin ventures is really showing the potential for entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and good old fashioned hard work in Tasmania. Add to that a touch of class and elegance (combined with the down-to-earth nature of the people) among the many vignerons in this state, and you see the quality of the wines on offer here.
In terms of the wines, we are lucky enough to have access to many wines in Tasmania that do not make it to the mainland. Additionally, recent reports have shown that Tasmanian grape production is 100% profitable, a rarity when many wine regions on the mainland are making a loss, some (the Hunter Valley) up to 94% loss. While it is true that a renaissance in Pinot Noir, a major aspect of Tasmanian production, is experiencing a boom in popularity, there are other elements in this too. One is most definitely the ‘Tasmanian’ aspect – marketed as fresh, clean, untouched, ancient, and isolated. This it certainly is – but pointing it out to consumers doesn’t help either!
So down to business – here is a list of the wines I found stood out at the latest white wine show, held at Princes Wharf on Hobart’s waterfront. Something around 70 wines were presented, and here is something of a highlight of the wines I found impressive (though all were interesting and of good quality!). As ever with wine tastings at a show, scores are a guide only, and all wines were tasted non-blind.
Pirie NV Sparkling – around $32 per bottle.
Many facets to this interesting and courageous sparkling. It has a tenacity that you don’t expect in standard NV. There’s nothing standard about it. Creamy with a toasty element, it also has a vibrant citrus side and an acidity to smooth over the edges. It is very long in terms of its finish, and a clear line of flavour from start to finish. I kept scribbling out my score and re-assessing it. It will challenge you, as it challenged me.
93 points (though could have been more).
Spring Vale Saluté 2013 – around $32.
The classic champagne grape triumvirate here, the balance 72% Pinot Noir, 23% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier. A fine lees softness to this wine, which is balanced by a sorbet-like tenderness. A real breadth to this wine – mouthfilling but also sensitive to the nuances of complexity. There’s an apple cut to the mid-palate but a smooth and satisfying finish. Highly enjoyable and good to see more East Coast Tasmanian sparkling stepping up to the plate!
Milton Vineyard Sparkling 2009 – around $36.
A limited release apparently – don’t count on being able to find it for long. Around five years on lees has given this wine a fantastic edgy-ness. There’s a fantastic line to this wine – what I mean is, if you drink a mouthful, you can visibly picture a line piercing the middle of your tongue from front to back. It’s linear, but powerful. Satisfying if you like a wine of significant power, as I do.
Kreglinger Brut Rosé 2005 – around $45.
Again, the key word here is power. Not so much that it is discomforting, rather the opposite. Smells like a quality wine, despite the non-blind aspect of the tasting. A broad and sophisticated palate is balanced with strawberry elements. It’s highly developed yet drinks like its only a fraction through its life. Grab one.
This varietal has become a real staple of the Tasmanian wine scene. Grown in various locations around the state, these wines are diverse in their offerings.
Frogmore Creek Riesling 2015 – around $26.
Frogmore Creek’s Rieslings are of genuine quality. Having tasted the last few vintages of the FGR Riesling (on the sweeter side of life), I was curious to see what elements of the Frogmore Creek site are conveyed in this wine as in the FGR. There is the highly vivacious aspect of this wine that can be in found in other Rieslings of the estate. A very exotic aroma and palate also. An acid zing meets a line and fruit power that flow throughout the wine.
Frogmore Creek Wines, Tasmania
Bay of Fires Riesling 2014 – around $31.
Stellar from the word go. Vibrant in the glass, smells of white flowers and lime, with some pithy texture. Crisp but generous in the mouth, and clings on through the finish with a seamless quality. Without sitting down to take a long look at this wine, I couldn’t score it higher. But I am sure it deserves it.
Tamar Ridge Pinot Gris 2014 – around $28.
Exceeding good (that’s actually what I wrote at the time). This wine divided our group of firm Pinot Gris lovers. This is a wine of power and breadth, very unlike the more subtle Gris on offer at the show. Very ripe in smell and flavour, and expansive in the mouth. A big Pinot Gris.
Spring Vale Pinot Gris 2015 – around $28.
A barrel fermented Pinot Gris, light-bodied but flowery and with a firm stance on its own two feet. A different style of Gris to the wine above. Dangerously easy to drink, but with a serious side to impress those wanting to put this under additional scrutiny. Pears, white stonefruits, but something, dare I say, ethereal about it.
Circa 93 points
Grey Sands Vineyard, Tasmania
Grey Sands Pinot Gris 2012, around $45.
Bottle age has seen this wine grow into a statuesque form. Strong and dauntless gold in the glass, smells of something exotic but rather like fine dining than home cooking. Dense and long, touched with aspects of delicate dessert, overlaid by rippling fruit. Got to say this is the wine of the show for me, the 2013 of this wine also outstanding.
Along with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay is the grape carving out a most significant name for itself in the Tasmanian wine world. The best two examples from the show – in my opinion – are below.
Bay of Fires Chardonnay 2014 – around $38.
Nice colouration to the wine, and smells of brooding intensity. A touch of the funkiness that can be found in some newer Chardonnays (are all winemakers reading the same books?). An irresistible power to the wine but seems distinctly un-Tasmanian in its body, expansiveness, and penetrating finish. If it had a little more oak, I would say that it tasted rather Morgeot-like. But the oak treatment is very well matched to the wine, and it retains its own sense of cool climate grape growing with a power beyond its frame.
Bay of Fires Vineyard, Tasmania
Heemskerk Coal River Chardonnay 2014 – around $50.
Both fruit driven and definitively on the savoury-side at the same time. Structurally, this wine is right up there – scaffolded with fine acidity and superb body. There’s not a lot more to say about this wine, except that it’s in a superbly packaged bottle too. On the day of the show, the wine was so popular that they had to buy more from the local bottle shop. Says it all really.