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Ho Ho HOBART- it’s always Christmas

My wife is a travel agent. So I don’t get much say in where we go for holidays.

16 Feb 2017

My wife is a travel agent. So I don’t get much say in where we go for holidays. Sure we sometimes get good deals and upgrades but not all places we go to have vineyards. So you can imagine my reply when the wife said we are going to Hobart over Christmas and New Year. With over 20 wineries in the area I played hard to get for about five minutes.

They have been planting vines in Tasmania since 1840. The pioneer was Bartholomew Boughton making an award winning fortified table wine. Some 110 years later Claudio Alcorso planted vines at Moorilla estate and became a trail blazer.  Moorilla estate is still a winery but is home to the amazing MONA-art gallery.

The wine regions around Hobart include Coal River, Derwent Valley and the Southern region. It is generally a maritime temperate climate, with some of the vintages varying greatly. For the technically minded there is 918-100 heat degree days, 5.9 hours of sunshine per day, 570mm of annual rainfall with a mean January temperature of 16.8C. It doesn’t sound quite right for Australian viticulture.

Due to micro-climate variation the area can produce aromatic whites and savoury reds. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay dominate the whites. Pinot Noir is king of the reds but there is amazing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz in selected pockets of terroir.

The Coal River region has the township of Richmond with the oldest functioning stone bridge in Australia. The Richmond bakery is the Nirvana of all baked goods including the best Curry Scallop pie I have ever eaten- so I had a second one. The tummy was now lined and some tastings were about to start.

First stop was Pooley Wines founded in 1985 at the Cooinda Vineyard site. In 2004 they purchased the Butchers Hill vineyard site.  Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gurwurtztramnier Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are produced. 

The 2015 Butchers Hill Pinot Noir is a show stopper. Bright garnet in colour with a nose rich in red fruits balanced by savoury earthy overtones. The palate is driven by restrained fruit but with an elegant flowing structure of tannin and acid. Two to three years in a bottle will enhance this wine that will cellar for 10-15 years. Tasmanian Venison pie would match it well.

Domaine A, just five minutes north of Richmond, is an iconic producer of Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been at the top of Langton’s wine classification since its inception. Peter Althaus, a former Swiss engineer, searched tirelessly for a site to satisfy his vinous quest. The north facing Stoney vineyard site stands as an anachronism with a very sunny frost free terroir. Whilst his Domaine A Cabernet is the revered wine, the more affordable 2014 Stoney Vineyard Cabernet is bang for your buck. Deep purple color, nose of bright cassis, savoury herbs and vanillin oak and a juicy fruit palate with moderate tannins.  It will cellar for four to five years. Have with a braised lamb shoulder.

In the Southern region is Home Hill Vineyard, established in 1992 with plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sylvaner. The 2014 Home Hill Estate Pinot Noir is a great example of how the terroir can change in a very short distance. The area is slightly colder and wetter than, say, Coal Valley.The Estate Pinot Noir is light red in colour and has the strawberry, red fruit spectrum. Some whole bunch ferment gives it its spicy brambly characteristics. The fruit on the palate is seductive with well layered tannins. Drinking now and for a decade. Have with porcini risotto.

If you can’t produce a cracking Tasmanian Riesling, give up as a wine maker. One of my favorite stops was the Bangor Winery and Oyster Shed. My daughter and I consumed at least three dozen oysters every day. The 2015 Bangor Riesling was a very pale lemon in color. The nose of citrus and melon was delightful with amazing crisp fruit and acidity. Have with a dozen oysters and another. 


Published: 16 Feb 2017