Welcome to the North – Part 2
In Part 1, I write up my visit to Josef Chromy wines in Relbia, just south of Launceston, Tasmania. As you go north of Launceston, either to the western or eastern side of the Tamar River, you find sensational wineries producing world class sparklings and table wines. On the western side of the river, Tamar Ridge has a relatively long history (in Tasmanian wine terms) of making top class wines. Brown Brothers’ ownership of the Tasmanian winery has increased the level of investment, particularly from the large Kayena Vineyard in the West Tamar area. Whilst there we also tasted some of the sparkling range of ‘Pirie’ wines produced under Brown Brothers’ supervision. Following our cruise around the West Tamar area, which including a brief stop into Stoney Rise, we took in the Eastern Tamar Valley and the Pipers Brook area, where we visited Bay of Fires winery, producers of the eponymous wines but also the renowned House of Arras sparkling and Eddystone Point wines.
Tamar Ridge Riesling 2015
Glossy, with nice standout fruit but a very slick acid cut. This is a really tasty wine. Riesling is one of the standout grapes in Tasmania no matter where it’s produced, and this doesn’t let the team down.
Tamar Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Again very impressive, seeing some good Sauvignon Blancs emerging from Tasmania in the last couple of vintages particularly. Someone seems to have changed the tune on the radio to a really rolling new vibe. This has a grippy, resinous texture – it wants to impress, and does. Quite tongue-licky – the acidity is smooth but so mouthwatering at this point, again, grippy. Drink with firm white fish.
Tamar Ridge's Vineyards
Tamar Ridge Chardonnay 2013
The standout white of the lineup for me. Soft dry spicyness on the nose and whiffs of subtle, toasty oak. Very gentle, like a Maserati under a velvet blanket. Creamy and mouthfilling but doesn’t finish with too strong an arm – maybe more like a firm handshake. I like this a lot but is perhaps a wine you’d drink within the next 1-2 years.
Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir 2013
Smells of whispy smoke, slightly gamey or warm pelt-like note. The strong, smooth fruit is there on the nose, and when you drink it, this comes through with a base layer of gentle spice. The tannin structure and acidity is charming, and this is more than your average weeknight Pinot. Dare I say a Sunday night dinner Pinot? Could stand up to the classic mushroom risotto combo.
Tamar Ridge Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
Obvious and very welcome step up in quality here, much more refinement and definition in the flavours and the structure (not that I was complaining with the wine above). The spice is more attuned, the smoke and pelt-like nuances replaced by caressing fruit, but it’s not fat or flabby. It’s pointed in a direction that will reward 2-3 years cellar but I think would drink well for another four or so years.
Bay of Fires/Eddystone Point
As I own essentially the whole current release range of House of Arras wines, we weren’t disappointed that they weren’t on tasting. We went through with a head to head of Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point wines, grape for grape. Needless to say, pats on the back all-round.
Eddystone Point Riesling 2015
6 grams per litre of residual sugar here but wears it oh so well. Having tasted a few 6-7 g/l Rieslings lately, I’ve no doubt this is one of the best value Rieslings in Tasmania at the moment. Generous but satisfyingly complex and mouthfilling, this isn’t a lime cordial type Riesling, this has more substance. Good framework to which it’ll grip for another few years at least. Great start.
Vineyards at Bay of Fires Winery
Bay of Fires Riesling 2015
Exotic nose – boom, there it is. Floral bouquet seems to be drifting around my nose and senses – was 2015 a good year for Rieslings here or a good year all-round for the state? Must drink more of these. Long finish, again the framework in the mouth is there but it’s also there on the complex finish. Winner with a rolled loin of pork.
Eddystone Point Pinot Gris 2015
Melon, pears and white stone fruits on the nose. Pinot Gris making a good statement in Tassie right now – taking the lead from Riesling maybe? Why not drink them al. Greenish finish but in a good way – high quality, MCG-like lawn rather than neighbours backyard.
Bay of Fires Pinot Gris 2015
Rockmelons on the nose, a celebratory smell to this wine. I’m a winner! Rich in the mouth, with a mouthfilling palate, finishing long and broad. That is, broad sweeps of complexity and flavour. Zingy, mouthwatering, amazing acid profile on this wine. S*** just got real here in the table wine department.
Eddystone Point Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Seasoned oak characters greet my nose, and this is the entrée to some really giving Sauvignon Blanc – generosity here but in a focused way, the winemakers evidently in control of the flavour profile while letting the wine talk. A good balance, overall, and still impressive. I think I’d like this with a seared tuna salad, or without. Whatever.
Bay of Fires Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Intensity +. But it kind of comes at you so loud and proud that I wonder if it’s me or it. Probably me. There’s a creamy kind of finish to this wine, which leaves you happy after its raucous party in the mouth. One for the extroverts! Happy, sunny day wine.
Eddystone Point Chardonnay 2013
Subtle, soft characters, gentle oak but more integrated than the 2014 Bay of Fires Chardonnay at this point. This wine’s turned up to the wedding dressed to impress, catching the eyes of admirers and flashing its pearly whites. Have to give a large-ish score range because I found it interesting yet didn’t get quite enough time to decipher it.
Eddystone Point Pinot Noir 2014
Gentle yet complex, smooth yet easy finish. I think, for me, the Eddystone Point whites are the standouts. Grab the whites for value while you stock up on your Arras sparklings and your Bay of Fires wines. Or don’t. The Eddystone Point wines are certainly wines to be proud of.
Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2014
Astonishing wine of grace and sensitivity. Outstanding nose of subtle oak, raspberries, but overwhelming varietal cherries. The most pristine cherries you can image, placed delicately in a little basket with a white muslin cloth underneath. Flavour plus here in the mouth too. Long, gripping, pulsating finish, and tannin profile that would startle even Emperor Nero.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my visit to the Northern Tasmanian vineyards, including reviews of Sinapius and Pipers Brook wines.