Tasmanian Wines: A Tasting Review

The following is a review of the wines we sampled in Tasmania. Some of the notes were written right after we stepped out of the winery; some after listening to our various (mildly tipsy) voice notes. We were not as diligent as we could have been, so in most cases, the notes center on wines we were most taken with, and do not cover each and every single wine that we tasted – around 100.

Moorilla (Hobart)
Jeff: I remember we liked the wines including the Pinots, but came away with the impression that the wines were a little pricey. They definitely are targeting the more upscale market with their erotic art labels. They also have a brewery.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Kelvedon Estate (Freycinet Vineyards)
Jeff: We went with the recommendation of our hostess at The Banc, a cosy (read, less then 10 tables) restaurant in Swansea, when she recommended the Kelvedon without hesitation. It had a beautiful nose. Very good, so much so that we bought another bottle to bring back to share.

Milton (Freycinet)
Didn’t think too much of the wines there. The pinots were a little disappointing ESP after the amazing kelvedon Pinot we had with dinner at the banc. The one wine I liked from Milton was the gerwurtz.

Jeff: This was definitely the biggest letdown of the trip, luckily it came at the start of our wine tasting tour so we forgot we even came here pretty quickly. I think their pinots were pretty forgettable, and whites were ok, but nothing that was too standout, except maybe the Gewurtz had a good nose ( If I forget which wine I liked from the winery the next day, then it probably wasn’t that good ). The lady behind the counter wasn’t too engaging and she was too busy putting scotch tape around the mouths of the stoppers.

Springvale (Freycinet)
Liked the two styles of Pinot from springvale. Bought both. The gerwurtz was not bad as well.

Springvale is reached after a long drive down a dirt track off the highway. You pull up in front of a ‘farm shack’ that houses their tasting room. (edit: Actually according to the website, the cellar door used to be a stable built by convicts in 1842!) There is something about the rustic style of the tasting room that I really like. Springvale is small and family owned, but they seem like they are open to expanding. They had someone who tried to export in the US but without success. One problem with export for them is their small production and their ability to consistently produce the quantity of wines because of the fickle nature of Tasmania’s climate.

I liked their two styles from Pinot. The cheaper, more fruit forward “Melrose” Pinot is the one that they are targeting to sell in Hong Kong. That one is made with second tier grapes blended with Pinot Meunier. Their main estate Pinot is made with the top grapes.

Later on in the trip, we opened a bottle of the Springvale Freycinet Coast Tasmania Pinot Noir 2007 we bought to go with our home cooked dinner of Italian sausage pasta. The wine was amazing, simply amazing. Very very good. Very approachable; soft. Can’t really feel the tannins; doesn’t really coat your tongue. Just goes down really well, very friendly, pairs very well with pasta and spicy sausage. Wine rounds out the pasta. Delicious wine.

Jeff: Very good, very soft, well balanced, good body, soft tannins, strawberries. Very smoooth.

Freycinet Vineyard (Freycinet)
Jeff loved the cab merlot from freycinet but since we already bought two other bottles we didn’t get that. Very few cab Sauvignon around here; they are mostly blended with cab franc or merlot. Suppose that is a cool climate thing. We had a super briny and bright Riesling. Little too tart on it’s own but so beautiful with oysters. Just rounds off perfectly. They also had another riesling that was blended with a german grape: that was just a touch sweeter; good to drink on its own. We also bought the fruit forward Pinot just cos it doesn’t have to be aged as long.

I really liked their two styles of pinot. Both styles were still less fruit forward than the other pinots we’ve tasted. The Louis Pinot is $24 and is a very good pinot at a very good price point. I thought the riesling was ok, but we bought it because it was a little extra tart but we thought that would go well with oysters (edit: it did!).

I also liked their cab merlot. It was really well balanced, full bodied and spicy, with a good strong finish.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Pipers Brook (Tamar Valley)
Giant vineyard compared to the others. More than 20 ha. Tried a whole range of wines. Loved the Riesling – bright with stone fruit and more floral than the Freycinet one. Me like. The pinots were lovely as well. The Ninth Island Pinot Noir was not aged in oak; you can smell the strawberries and some spice. The Pipers Brook was more complex – same nose of strawberries but the oak gave it a more earthy kick. Very nice! Almost tempted to get that but then we tried their blended wines, the 2005 Ninth Island Tamar and the 2004 Pipers Brook. Amazing noses!!!!!!! The latter especially. Ketchup!!!!!! Would go great with fries. Mmm.

Jeff: I really liked their Riesling, made me change my mind on Rieslings in Tasmania. Good nose and good finish. The SB was nice and light. Ninth Island was unoaked, fruit forward, light color but still good body. Pipers Brook Pinot was more complex, oaked, spicy and would pair well with meat. We also loved the blends. The 9th Island Tamar had nice big berry flavors, a light body, and good to taste alone or with appetizers. The Pipers Brook Tamar had softer tannins and a big ketchup nose. We really liked the Pinots and the Tamars, but were more taken with the Tamars so bought the two Tamars.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Jansz (Tamar Valley)
Jansz makes only sparkling. We tasted four of their wines, and even though we were quite impressed, didn’t go away with any. Perhaps sparkling just doesn’t speak to us as strongly?

Non-vintage Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – fresh apple juice.

Rose: faint blush, not as unique on the nose. No oak on the non vintages.

2004 Jansz vintage – can smell the oak on this one. Nose like like orange peel pound cakes. Actually like the chocolate orange truffle we had.

Jeff: The non vintage was very light and nice, I liked it. Vineyard was big, grand and glitzy. I remembered we liked the Vintage the best.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Daryample (Tamar Valley)
Small vineyard. Used to be family owned, but in 2007, the Sundstrup family sold to the Yalumba Group, which also owns Jansz. 2007 wines and beyond use glass corks. 🙂 tried five wines – the SB 2008 was nice and bright with stone fruit. Wasn’t too big a fan of the Chardonnay. It wa ok but not exciting. Well they are reducing their crops of chardonnays and concentrating on the SB which we think are better anyway. Tried the 2005, 2006, and 2008 pinots. The first was very fruit forward and super light finish. The 2006 was a little more subdued on the nose with more spice than fruit but fuller bodied with longer finish. The 2008 had a completely different nose!!! I liked it. We left with the latter two.

Jeff: The SB was well balanced, very good nose ( stone fruit? ), and very good finished. 2005 Pinot had a very fruity nose. 2006 had a much fuller body and a better finish. The nose was more subdued but you get more of the spice. 2008 definitely tasted younger, could age a little more but drinkable now.

They are planning to cut down on Chardonnay production, and concentrate on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noirs. They’re also the only winery in Tasmania that uses glass cork stoppers.

The cellar door was also a pretty stark shack, pretty bare in the interior except for the wine, which is all that matters. We were greeted by this hearty fella sitting on a wooden stool behind the counter; we could have mistaken him for some shopkeeper in a small town except he was selling some very good wine. He was a cool chill guy, cheery, nice guy. It was practically a private tasting because we were the only ones there and he gave us tips on things to do and see along the route.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Delamere (Tamar Valley)
Currently 6.5 ha. The owner just bought a whole ton of cuttings. Planning to expand to 20 ha. Owns 150 ha of land. He has worked in the industry for 9 years including Oregon. Thought their blanc de Blancs was better than the one at Jansz. The Pinot was good but not the best we have had so far. The rose was interesting – floral with a slightly bitter edge. Dined on the property, in the sun with the resident dog and chickens. 🙂

Jeff: Shane Holloway is the the owner/winemaker here. He struck us as a little rough on the edges, hippy, laid back west coast dude. He’s been the winemaker for 9-10 years, and has worked in Oregon as well. He wants to concentrate on just chardonnay and pinot noir. Bought property 2 years ago. They have a lot of land to expand, only planted a small part of the property. Have new cuttings that they are going to plant. They market a lot through sommeliers and have them come to taste their wines and add to their wine lists. Send some to the UK and Harvard group of students. We had a good experience here because he let us lunch on the lawn with his dog and chickens.

The blanc de blanc was pretty good. Rose was not bad. The chard was ok.The Pinot was ok, not the strongest. But he said the newer plantings should be higher quality vines, the wines from those vines should be better.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Bay of Fires (Tamar Valley)
Five wineries in and my palate is getting tired. About hundred thousand cases max. Liked their Riesling. – well balanced with a good nose. Like their Chardonnay too. Lightly toasted fun nose! Light body. The 2008 Pinot noir was pretty good. Long finish nice spicy and fruity nose but the body was a little on the light side. Tannins were very soft.

Jeff: Mostly white wines. Only red is Pinot Noir. Pretty big winery with 100K max production. They source their wines from all over Tasmania (unlike the smaller wineries) and some of the other vineyards labels use the winery facilities at Bay of Fires. They had a couple of sparkling but liked their sparkling pinot noir / chardonnay. Riesling was very good. Good nose, crisp, well balanced, not too light and watery. The SB had good nose but weak body, very light color almost like water. The Pinot Noir – very light body and color. Good noise, good long drawn out finish but the body was weak and soft. Might be better with age, or not. Lacking in complexity. TPS liked it. Chardonnay was a bit oaky, more oaky than previous chards I’ve tasted in Tassie.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Grey Sands (Tamar Valley)
This winery owned by couple who also have day jobs. Tasting by appointment. We had a private tasting on a patio overlooking the slopes of the vineyard. Amazing view. They don’t make their wines but send it over to the Bay of Fires to make. Everything is pretty much done by hand.

Greysands Romanesque Glengarry Tasmania 2005 – Jeff: Blend of 3 grapes – Touriga, cab franc, cab sauv. Very interesting nose is due to the Touriga grape. sweet bbq smell.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Stefano Lubiana (Hobart)
Jeff: Tasting room is also in their winery building, a big wooden barnyard building. Monique, wife of the winemaker, poured the wines for us. She was really nice and helpful and we had her ship the wines for us to Singapore. Their Alfresco Riesling was very refreshing and light, had a good floral nose. Their other whites – chards, sauv blanc were ok. Given the two styles of chardonnay, I couldn’t really taste too much of a difference. Their oaked version was really oaked very much and wasn’t that complex. Their Pinots were also a bit weak, because I don’t remember them being spectacular, and we were a bit disappointed because the winery had gotten good reviews for their Pinot. But I remember the Merlot being very well rounded and rich and full bodied and being surprised by the quality of it.

Meadowbank Estate (Hobart)
Jeff: Stefano Lubiana recommended we go visit Meadowbank. The vineyard is pretty big (40 hectares) and they have a big fancy tasting room cum restaurant with great views but pricey food. For such a big vineyard we were surprised that they didn’t make their own wines but sent their fruit over to Frogmore Creek next door. They had some pretty good wines. We liked their chardonnay, and preferred their unoaked ‘Meadowbank’ version. Their Pinot, especially their ‘Henry James’ Pinot was very good, very rich and full bodied wine. It was our most expensive bottle too at 49.50. I also liked their regular Riesling. The FGR Riesling was too sweet. They also sell a lot of their grapes to Bay of Fires for sparkling production.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania

Frogmore Creek (Hobart)
Jeff: They are also very big, and they have several labels under their control. In addition to Frogmore Creek, they also have the 42 Degrees South Label, the Wellington Label and the Rosalyn Estate Label. They have around 40 hectares (don’t remember if this includes their recent Rosalyn Estate acquisition). They also do a lot of winemaking for other vineyards as a contract winemaker including Meadowbank and Puddleduck. They had a lot of really good wine. I liked their Riesling better than Meadowbank’s. They also had a very good Gewurtz with a really big lychee nose. We liked it a lot. I also liked all three styles of their Pinot. They are all different but good in their own way, smooth, some with more tannins than the other but we decided to buy the Frogmore Creek 2007 Pinot. That Pinot had a little more tannins and a long finish. Their ruby pinot noir port was also very good, less sweet than your normal port. Their cab merlot blend was also excellent.

From 2009 Sep-Oct Tasmania
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2 thoughts on “Tasmanian Wines: A Tasting Review

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Tasmanian Wines: A Tasting Review « grapeful [grapeful.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com

  2. Dear Jeff,
    Great blog and its very informative. I’m planning a holiday to Tassy and you sure have called out some for the vineyards we should visit. You did mention somewhere in your blog they do ship wine back to Singapore. Do all the vineyards do it or selected ones? What are the charges like? How long before it arrives in Singapore?
    It would be great if you could drop me a line or two with any details you may have as to shipping wine back from Tasmania to Singapore.
    Cheers,
    Julian Savaridas

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