Pooley Wines – Tassie star’s latest releases
Things move fast in the world of wine. Oddly enough, while some things go ahead in leaps and bounds, others keep their roots deep in tradition. Pooley wines is a place that adheres to both tradition and modernity. One of the oldest vineyards in the Coal River Valley, twenty five minutes out of Hobart and near to the convict-built town of Richmond. Situated in the Georgian heritage-listed house ‘Belmont’, the cellar door is the front of an operation that extends up the Butcher’s Hill behind the house, and to Cooinda Vale (the site of the original vineyards planted by Margaret and Denis Pooley in Campania) and Clarence House, a mansion built in 1830 and home to various plantings including the Pinot Noir, which is put into the capable hands of Pooley.
Today, Matthew and Anna, grandchildren of Margaret and Denis, run a superior-quality operation. Having come to make the family’s wines from various routes, the two now oversee the production of wines which are consistently award-winning. I have previously written up some of Pooley’s wines, and was very grateful to have the chance to stop by to happily consume some of the latest releases. I tasted these latest wines at the cellar door and my notes and scores a guide to what to expect from the wines, and so I have given a score range for these wines which in many cases will improve under more optimal tasting conditions. Not that I didn’t enjoy the cellar door – try it for yourself, it’s brilliant. A note on these releases -
Pooley Estate Riesling 2015, RRP $35
A nose redolent of passionfruit, orange blossom, and lime. Pooley make Riesling one of their key specialties (the other being Pinot Noir), and this doesn’t disappoint. The wine is limey and slatey, with a soft spiciness. It is dry, but doesn’t dry the mouth out. It also has a feel of small and clean rocks in the mouth, ‘minerality’. A long finish guides you safely home. This will keep for quite some years but is already drinking beautifully.
Pooley ‘Margaret Pooley Tribute’ Riesling 2015, RRP $50
Comes from older vines than the estate Riesling, and is a delicate and triumphant wine. Picked early to retain slightly higher acidity too. Aromas of flowers and almond blossom waft up, and then the palate really takes the wine up another notch. Clarity, purity, and lime precision are the key elements. Medium-plus acidity to the wine, the legacy of Tasmania’s cooler climate and the earlier picking. I was told that in a recent vertical tasting the older versions of this Riesling showed beautifully, and I don’t doubt it. A long finish again – seems built in to these Pooley Rieslings.
Pooley Chardonnay 2014, RRP $50
Rare production of this wine, fruit hails from 23 year old vines in the original vineyard in Cooinda Vale. I’m told it’s the first Pooley Chardonnay in eight years, as the fruit has been regularly sold to Penfold’s for use in their flagship Yattarna Chardonnay. 100 dozen of this wine produced, spends 10 months in oak and undergoes partial malolactic fermentation to smooth the acidity into a rounder body. The nose is quintessential Chardonnay – grapefruit underscored by excellent use of oak in imparting some subtle creamy and toasty notes. The palate is smooth, medium-full bodied. Gorgeously tasty notes of caramel, flowers and blooming mouth fragrance. A crystalline mid-palate, completely pure of blemishes that might detract from this rare bottling. The finish is, to use a wine-tasting phrase, a peacock’s tail of beautiful and lingering flavours.
Pooley Pinot Grigio 2015, RRP $29
Say hello to a nose of lifted white flowers and pistachios. The world seems to be divided into Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio drinkers, but this will please everybody. The palate is smooth and on the fuller side of Grigio, more Gris-like but more rugged than smooth and supple. It’s not a bone dry palate, it’s very satisfying. There are elements of guava, and mouth-watering acidity to pierce it. Great wine for the price – value plus!
Pooley Pinot Noir 2014, RRP $40
A very peppery nose but the wine is also a little colder than what is optimal. Some struck match, vanilla, and soft spice coming through from the oak. Over it all is the smell of pure cherries. It tastes of cherries, blueberries and a little raspberries. If you've ever eaten pancakes with blueberries and a bit of cream, this is it. Zingy acid and slightly savoury on the back palate and finish to keep things interesting. They do make great Pinot here.
Pooley Cooinda Vale Pinot Noir 2013, RRP $50
2013 a warmer year, and the Cooinda Vale site can be a warmer site, at least in the day, due to a diurnal microclimate. Aromas of creamy oak, vanilla, cherry, and vanilla ice cream. The taste envelopes the palate brilliantly. Cherries, raspberry, a little mild chocolate milk taste, and choc chips. Definitely has that darker and smoother edge to it. There is substantial mid-palate breadth and just a hint of warmth on the finish. A tidy, more broad-shouldered Pinot Noir that is suitable to drink in a year or so and for 5-7 years thereafter. I tasted this wine in July 2015, and noted that it was a little young then. It has since softened, so drink now or hold for a couple of years.
Pooley Butcher’s Hill Pinot Noir 2014, RRP $50
From the Butcher’s Hill vineyard, behind the Belmont mansion, the site north-facing and free-draining. The plantings here now thirteen years old, but still considered young in relation to Cooinda Vale. A nose of cherry, briar, bramble – some signs of a cooler year. A lick of vanillin oak to make the nose all the more enticing. In the mouth, it’s smooth, quintessential cool-climate Pinot Noir. Liquid chocolate bits added to the cherry and bramble, and subtle, smooth spice in the mix too. For me, the most impressive of the Pinot Noir tasted today.
Pooley Clarence House Pinot Noir 2012, RRP $40
I rated this wine 93 points in July 2015, and you can read that tasting note here. I see some different things in the wine now. Some green capsicum and green pepper on the nose, with vanillin oak and soft flowers underpinning it all. Medium-plus body in the mouth, and fabulous acidity. Wide palate with some notes of chocolate.
You owe it to yourself to visit Pooley when you can, or if interstate, give their wines a try via your local stockist.