Tassie gems on show

Derwent Estate sign (Photo: Cellar Door Score website)

I spent my usual and much-anticipated mid-January week chairing the 2018 Tasmanian Wine Show, at which over 400 wines from all over the island state are exhibited each year. I have posted the first day’s tasting notes on the website, which include the 2017 rieslings and 2016 pinot noirs – both ‘current’ vintages for those varieties. Also in this batch are the 25 pinot gris/grigios.

The 67 vintage 2016 pinot noirs were a mixed bag and on the whole not up to the usual standard of this show. The seasonal conditions of a hot, early vintage resulted in stewy or overripe flavours in some of the wines, while a number showed bushfire smoke taint. This resulted from a smoke blanket, which covered Launceston and the outlying wine regions for more than a week during the summer of 2016. Smoke-taint is not always a problem, but at high levels it can spoil a wine. There were plenty of highlights for sure, and my top marks went to Home Hill’s Estate bottling and Kelly’s Reserve (the Estate won trophies for best pinot noir and best red wine of show), Eddystone Point, Pembroke, Darlington and Lisdillon, with Derwent Estate’s Lime Kiln and Calcaire bottlings hot on their heels.

Eddystone Point is surely the bargain pinot of the entire show: it sells for a measly AUD $27-$32. It’s a gorgeous wine, drinking in its prime right now, and also won the trophy for best pinot noir in the Royal Adelaide Wine Show last year and golds at both Brisbane and Sydney. That’s an amazing effort for a modestly priced wine. It went close to being best pinot noir in the Tasmanian Wine Show, too.

The 2017 rieslings were good; indeed, if you look at the medal-winning rate (21 out of 35 entries) the standard was high, but there were also quite a few disappointing wines and not a lot of highlights. The lone gold medal went to Heemskerk, silvers to Leo Buring Leopold, Bangor Lagoon Bay, Stargazer and The BendStargazer was awarded silver, but on two occasions I have scored it gold, which explains the disparity. However, as usual with the young riesling class in Tassie, I predict that some of these wines will be more impressive in a year or two. Tasmanian riesling can be steely when very young and often needs time to show its true worth.

The pinot gris that impressed most on the day were Barringwood (the trophy winner), Josef Chromy (also gold), Bay Of Fires, Riversdale Estate and Derwent Estate (silvers) – all 2017 vintage.

More Tassie show next week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *