I have a confession to make – I really really really love visiting Tasmania. It’s just like New Zealand – but without the funny accents! Jokes aside, for me, Tasmania is Australia’s premier cool climate wine growing region, and it’s food industry and restaurant scene has to be seen, and eaten, to be believed.
I recently had three days to kill in Sydney, so rather than waste it lying around the house, I decided to visit the land down under, Down Under. In the middle of summer, Tasmania is paradise. For example – did you know Tasmania’s beaches are magnificent, and many are deserted! For this trip I flew into Launceston and made a beeline for the wineries on the East Coast – a mere 90 minute drive will see you wine tasting like a boss at Devils Corner, Freycinet Vineyards, Milton, and Spring Vale. And while you’re there, have a splurge and stay overnight at the eco-resort, Freycinet Lodge. It’s the perfect base for you to explore Wineglass Bay the next morning. My tip – have an early breakfast and go for the 60 minute hike before the crowds arrive – you’ll have this world famous beach all to yourself.
My visit also coincided with the running of the Tasmanian Wine Show, where the best cool climate wines from Australia’s island state are judged against each other. Tasting my way through 300 wines at the exhibitor tasting was tough (guaranteed to strip your pearly whites of their enamel). I soon discovered the Tasmanian Wine Show is just like the Hunger Games, but for your teeth! My tasting goal: to see if my palate was in tune with the judges. Could I pick the trophy winners that would be revealed that night, from the wines that had already been awarded gold and silver? I was pleased that I was able to choose about 40% of the Trophies.
Up and coming winery, Gala Estate, won big – taking out three trophies for its Gala Estate Constable Amos Silver Estate Pinot Noir 2013. For me, the best wine of the show was the heavenly Margaret Pooley Tribute Riesling 2015 from the Coal River near Hobart, which won trophies for best Riesling and best 2015 vintage. The official trophy for best wine of show was actually controversial – not because it didn’t deserve it, but because it had never happened before. Non vintage sparkling wines are never expected to be as good as their vintage stablemates, but no one told this to the Pirie Non Vintage. Not only did it take out the trophy for Best Non-Vintage, but it also went on to win the Best Wine Of Show – displacing its stablemate, Pirie Vintage 2009, which won the trophy for Best Vintage Sparkling Wine. For a full wrap up, read Chief Judge, Huon Hooke’s, comments.
For everyone that is unfamiliar with Tasmanian wine, think fine natural acid structure and pristine fruit qualities. Down here, viticulture is so important, it’s the reason the region has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. The fruit ripens perfectly and can handle the leaner years when the weather isn’t as kind. The wines to look out for – Sparkling, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Chardonnay and of course Pinot Noir.
(for the full results – download the show results here)
Best LD MV Sparkling Wine: Kreglinger Brut Rose 2005
Best Vintage Sparkling Wine: Pirie Vintage 2009
Best NV Sparkling Wine: Pirie Non Vintage
Best Riesling Trophy: Margaret Pooley Tribute Riesling 2015
Best Chardonnay: Derwent Estate Calcaire Chardonnay 2014
Best Pinot Noir: Gala Estate Constable Amos Silver Estate Pinot Noir 2013
Best Other Wine: Ghost Rock Pinot Gris 2015
Best Sweet Wine: Josef Chromy Botrytis Riesling 2015
Best Museum: Puddleduck Bubbleduck 2006
Chairman’s Selection: Freycinet Chardonnay 2014
People’s Choice: Winstead Lot 16 Pinot Noir 2012
Best 2015 Vintage Wine: Margaret Pooley Tribute Riesling 2015
Best 3 Year Old Pinot Noir: Gala Estate Constable Amos Silver Estate Pinot Noir 2013
2015 Pinot Noir Producer of the year: Brown Brothers
Most Successful Exhibitor: Brown Brothers and Derwent Estate Wines
BEST WINE OF THE SHOW: Pirie Non Vintage
BEST RED OF THE SHOW: Gala Estate Constable Amos Silver Estate Pinot Noir 2013
BEST WHITE WINE OF THE SHOW: Derwent Estate Calcaire Chardonnay 2014
Top Ten Exhibitors
1 Derwent Estate Wines
1 Brown Brothers
3 Bream Creek
4 Josef Chromy Wines
5 Frogmore Creek
7 Freycinet vineyard
9 Pooley Wines
9 Gala Estate
9 Home Hill
We spent10 days down there recently and the stand out for me was the floral, almost Germanic quality of the nose on most of the Rieslings.
Palate was Aussie through and through but the nose was not mainland. Delightful.
That and EJ Carr of course. What a wine!
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So much wine, so little time. 🙂
So many wines, I am wondering when I will have the time and of course if I can find them in Texas. I can’t wait to try.
Thanks for this excellent piece, Drew. Can’t wait to try all of them out but I think that has to wait a bit for me. I’m currently planning a wine-tasting tour in Chile and Argentina. And I’m trying to learn as much as I can about wines in these regions. I’ve found some useful resources https://tango.tours/guide-wine-tasting-tour/ but I was wondering if you could give me some more recommendations for wines in those regions.