Tasmania flourishes

Anna and Matt Pooley (Photo: Pooley Wines)

Having spent a few days in Hobart during the Taste Of Tasmania week, I can report with some excitement that much is happening in the island state. New wineries are being built and more vines are being planted. Tasmania has for some years been the most in-demand region in Australia, meaning there is an under-supply of grapes.

Two Tamar Valley producers, Native Point (tastings) and Moores Hill (tastings), have combined and are building a winery and warehouse. The change was prompted by Native Point owners Tim and Sheena High: Tim has retired from his previous job to devote himself full-time to the wine business.

And Barringwood (tastings) is expanding from its base in northern Tasmania near Devonport. Owners Vanessa and Neville Bagot are planting several hectares of vines at Evandale, in the Relbia sub-region, and another substantial vineyard on the East Coast. They will also build a winery on the Evandale site. Until now their wines have been made at Josef Chromy (tastings).

Andrew Pirie, the founder of Pipers Brook Vineyard who is now doing his own thing at Apogee (tastings), tells me the market for riesling has picked up and the price of chardonnay grapes is rising.

Derwent Estate (tastings) owner Andrew Hanigan and winemaker John Schuts said they were planting more vines, as are the Lyne family at Spring Vale – principally pinot noir. They all seem bullish. After using a contract winemaker since establishing his vineyard, Hanigan built a winery and employed Schuts a few years ago. He hasn’t looked back.

The Pooley family (tastings) likewise built its own winery when winemaker Anna Pooley returned home after working for Treasury. Her brother Matt runs the vineyards. They recently released their first reserve-style chardonnay named Cooinda Vale, an excellent wine from the superb 2015 vintage. I served this at a chardonnay tasting I hosted during Taste of Tasmania, along with the Derwent Estate Calcaire Chardonnay 2014, and the Barringwood Blanc de Blancs 2012.

A highlight of this tasting was a contrast between the wonderful finesse of the Calcaire and the powerful grapefruit-and-tropical pungency of the 2014 Freycinet Chardonnay.

I’ll be back in Tassie in a couple of weeks to chair the 2017 Tasmanian Wine Show judging. I’m particularly looking forward to tasting the pinot noirs from the feature vintage 2015. They should be outstanding.


One thought on “Tasmania flourishes”

  1. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    A small clarification re Derwent Estate: John Schuts is a part-owner of the business, together with Andrew Hanigan’s parents, Pat and Trevor. The partnership employs all four of them. Schuts has been making the wines since 2003 as he previously worked for the contract winemaker, Winemaking Tasmania.

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