Tasting Notes: ‘Wines of Tasmania’, presented by David Cooper, 26 September 2018

Tasmania has a cool maritime climate. The western half is too wet for wines (or people apparently!), so the relatively small wine growing areas are in the north and east of the island. Its marginal suitability for wine is similar to England, and like England, Tasmania specialises in sparkling wines. It is little known in the UK, as 40% of its wine doesn’t leave the island, and another 55% goes to Australia!

Jansz, Piper Valley, Brut Rose NV, 12%. Jansz winery is named after Abel Janszoon Tasman, who discovered Tasmania in 1642. Its first commercial wine was produced in 1986 and is now owned by Yalumba. This rose sparkling wine is 68% Pinot Noir, 26% Chardonnay and 6% Pinot Meunier grown on red, free-draining basalt (volcanic soil). The wine is an odd yellow-orange colour, rather than pink. The secondary fermentation is 3 years. A good mousse and clean slight tropical fruit taste. Extremely good value at £15.95 from Wine Direct (or their outlet in Hailsham).

Jansz, Piper Valley, Premier Cuvee NV, 12%.    Another odd colour – a wine with a yellow tint. 53% chardonnay and 47% Pinot Noir. Gentle biscuit on the nose. This has 2 years of secondary fermentation and is distinctly less sophisticated than the rose. £18 Waitrose.

Tamar Ridge, Tamar Valley, Devil’s Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 13%.  Grown on red ironstone, winemaker David Pirie. 20% is fermented in large old oak barrels. Aromatic on the nose rather than the usual SB grass. Taste is also unusual – apples and pears or even lychees, strong minerality, and a good mouthfill. £12.95 Slurp Co & others

Tamar Ridge, Tamar Valley, Devil’s Corner Riesling 2016, 12%.  Young but has the older-Riesling petrol-ly smell, very unusual in such a young Riesling. Citrussy. £13.99 Rannoch Scott & others.

Freycinet, East Coast, Exhibition Tasmanian Chardonnay 2015, 13.5%  20% in new French oak but not particularly noticeable. A very clean chardonnay, minerally, perhaps not  lot of character but a nice drink. £16 Wine Society.

Tamar Ridge, Tamar Valley, Tamar Ridge Chardonnay 2013, 13%. Hand-harvested from a single vineyard, free-run juice,100% malolactic fermentation. 14% new oak, 14% 2nd use oak. A big nose, and fuller, richer style than the previous wine, and a long finish. £17.75 Wine Direct.

Eddystone Point NE Tasmania, Eddystone Point Pinot Noir 2013, 13.5%. A hint of horsey farmyard or smokiness on the nose, but also strawberries and cherries. A nice mouthful, fruity style, soft tannins. Good colour.  £11.99 Waitrose Cellar.  

Tamar Ridge, Tamar Valley, Kayena Pinot Noir 2016, 13.5%. Much more restrained nose than previous. Only a touch of smoke on the palate. Less fruity in style – more burgundy than NZ. Difficult to source in UK. C £18.

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The evening was a great example of what a Wine Club can do – introduce lesser-known areas and wines which would not normally be tried. The wines were very varied and also seemed non-typical for their grape. The prices given on the night have been checked as of 2 October and the notes above show this latter pricing and sources. The last wine does not now seem to be available in the UK.

Notes by Sally Harris