The continuing search for cooler Climates In Australia is lending to its southernmost, and sea-girt, state: Tasmania. Its high latitudes (the same as New Zealand’s South Island) have made it the envy of many mainland winemakers. Hardys long relied on Tasmania for fruit for its top House of Arras fizz. Yalumba did the same for Jansz and recently acquired the admired Dalrymple operation. Goelet Wine Fatales, owner of Taltarni in Victoria, now depends on Tasmania for its Clover Hill and LaJIa Gully wines. Shaw + Smith’s 2011 acquisition of the renowned Тolpuddle vineyard was its first foray outside the Adelaide Hills. And Brown Bros of Met of Victoria made the boldest move into Tasmania of all: having acquired interests including Tamar Ridge, Pirie, and Devil’s Corner, it is now the island’s leading producer. Its nearest rival, making Pipers Brook and Ninth Island wines, is Flemish-owned Kreglinger Wine Estates.
Even as recently a 2013 the island’s grand total of 230 vineyards accounted for a mere 3,741 acres (1,514ha), limited in many cases by the availability of irrigation water. For although the island’s west coast is one of Australia’s wettest areas. Hobart vies with Adelaide as the driest state capital. So far, vineyards are confined to the eastern third of the island, in unofficial regions (all wines are labeled simply Tasmania) with very distinct characters. The sheltered Tamar Valley and the wooded, wetter, later-ripening Pipers River regions in the northeast of the island are reckoned to be .some of Australia’s most propitious areas for cool-climate wine production. Tile river helps moderate temperatures, anil valley slopes ward off dangerous frosts. But there are sites on the southeast coast so sheltered by the principal mountains that the fact that there is no land between them and the Antarctic seems hardly relevant. The natural amphitheater around Freycinet seems pre-ordained for viticulture and has yielded some exceptionally pretty Pinot Noir when summers are not too hot.
Even Huon Valley, Australia’s southernmost wine region, has produced some hilly ripe medal-winners. Derwent Valley and Coal River, to the north and northeast of Hobart respectively, are notably dry, being in the rain shallow of Mount Wellington, although Coal River at least now has good access to irrigation water. They are probably best at Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. and Riesling (dry to very sweet), but carefully chosen and managed sites can be warm enough to ripen Cabcmei Sauvignon, as the fanatical owners of Domain: A have proved.
No one now doubts that as well as being prime sourсе of base wine for Australian spa riding wine, the island can also make exceptionally fine still wines. All of the Pinot Noir and a great deal of the Chardonnay that goes Into Hardy’s top Filecn Hardy wines is Tasmanian. Penfolds has been steadily increasing the Tasmanian proportion in its “icon” Chardonnay, Yallarna. The Island’s history as a supplier of base wine for Fizz means that Pinot Noir. then Chardonnay, are the most important varieties by far. but it was the quality of the island’s unusually fresh, well-balanced still Pinots that attracted Brown Bins.
The coastal winds provide a natural limit to yields in the vineyards carved out of Tasmania’s rich and Auriferous bush. Screens are necessary for some places to preserve the vine leaves on the seaward slope. But ripening is as slow and sure as any vintner could hope for, and flavour correspondingly intense.