Tasmania… “the Apple Isle”, once known for producing more Apples than anyone could possibly eat, now has a bustling wine industry and I’ve really enjoyed some wines in recent times that hail from the island down under “Down Under”. Sadly, it’s probably internationally famous for the extinct marsupial… the Tasmanian Tiger, and for the “heading towards extinction” Tasmanian Devil made famous as a Looney Toons character. Interestingly, the term “map of Tassie” has made it into the local lingo as a way to describe things that vaguely look like, well, a map of Tasmania.
Tasmania is a great place to go on a driving tour. I first travelled around the Island in the mid 90s, taking several weeks, but sadly was not into wine as much as I am now. Although dropping into a few wineries I really did miss out on dedicating time to the numerous sub-regions that produce an array of grape varieties.
Many of these varieties are producing good wine but my personal favourite style is the sparkling made with the same varieties, and in the same manner, as Champagne. On top of the fizz I’ve had some great Riesling and Pinot too. Tasmania is a cool climate region so it does these types of wine very well.
Although Tassie wineries produce some stunner vintage sparklings my favourite every day bubbly is the non-vintage Jansz Premium Cuvée which comes from the Tamar Valley. This really is done in a style of non-vintage Champagne and is just as good in my opinion but costs half as much! One bottle I had recently would be described as having obvious honeysuckle and citrus flavours with a little strawberry and buttery finish. It’s delicious with the cheese and pâté. You can pick this up for around $25 and it’s quite widely available in the US and the UK.
There’s quite a few good Rieslings coming out of Tasmania nowadays and one of my favourite producers is Frogmore Creek which is located in southern Tasmania… an area known for producing Riesling with delicate fruit concentration. I had a great 2008 vintage Frogmore Creek Riesling recently and it typified how good this style from Tassie can be, especially with a few years on it. On opening this wine I instantly got the lime and floral aromas. It was the sort of wine that attracted you from the outset. On sipping it I discovered just how dry (not sweet) a good Riesling can be yet still contain loads of apple and stone fruit flavours in a well balance and enjoyable way. It’s a good wine and was the exact match I was after for Indian. Yummo!
And then there is Tasmanian red wine. Although mostly known for producing good Pinot a Tasmanian Shiraz, the 2010 Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz, won the Jimmy Watson award in 2011.
Recently I really enjoyed the 2010 42 Degrees South Pinot Noir, another wine produced by Frogmore Creek and designed to be very food friendly. As can be seen in the opening image it is a very light coloured red wine. On opening this wine I could smell the cherries popping out of it. On sipping it the wine confirmed itself as being quite light yet it still packed an array of berry-driven fruit flavours along with a spice and an enjoyable tang. Although not overly complex this was actually quite a fun and interesting wine that was nice and soft yet lasted in the mouth. And as designed, it went very well with light snacks and a home-made burger. Yum!
One of our followers, Anthony Woollams, is living the dream and setting up his own vineyard in the Tamar Valley. You can read his blog, Domaine Anthony Woollams, here.
So let’s just hope the vibrant Tassie wine industry never goes the way of the Tassie Tiger or heads down the path of the Tassie Devil… the world would be even poorer for this extra loss!