Our wine expert shares his tips on which cellar doors have the top drops. Plus find out how to join him on an exclusive Tassie wine tour.
For a State still producing only a tiny amount of wine compared with the rest of the country, Tasmanian winemakers are making a mighty big noise.
It seems that in the blink of an eye, the cool viticultural climes of the Apple Isle have become the hottest thing in Australian wine.
Blessed with natural beauty, a climate that is perfect for varieties and styles such as chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wines requiring cooler conditions, and plenty of untapped land for vines, Tasmania has burst onto the wine scene in small bars, restaurants and, increasingly, in shops.
Going hand-in-hand with wine has been world-class restaurants based on abundant ingredients farmed from some of the cleanest soils and oceans in the world.
In Hobart, there is Franklin and Frank, or for something with an Asian twist then The Glass House at the end of Brooke Street Pier is a must.
In Launceston, the class act is Geronimo, which offers a degustation menu for $65 that in a mainland State capital would be twice the price and not even half as good.
If wine is not your sole focus, there are famous long- established breweries and new boutique operations, plus a growing number of outstanding whisky distilleries, producing internationally recognised and awarded whisky that would surprise the odd Scot.
In the past few years, Tasmanian wines have started to be recognised globally by wine critics and at shows, twice winning the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards with a pinot noir and, of all things, a shiraz.
In the main, the varieties that excel in this environment are chardonnay and pinot, both for table wines and sparkling wines. There is no doubt that Australia’s best sparkling wines are consistently coming from Tasmania, with most of the big producers such as Jansz, Domaine Chandon and Bay of Fires having a significant stake.
Riesling and pinot gris are also very good while in site-specific locations that capture the warmth. There are also some very good shiraz and cabernet blends being made.
For the wine tourist, the logistics of taking in the cellar doors of Tassie are simple. Most of the action is on the eastern side of the island, with the east coast up around Coles Bay a nice diversion about halfway between the two major cities.
Around Hobart there are some wonderful small cellar doors such as Pooley Wines, Stefano Lubiana Wines, Frogmore Creek Wines and Moorilla Winery, which is also home to the famous MONA art gallery overlooking the Derwent.
Heading up the east coast towards Coles Bay is a simple drive of a couple of hours taking you to Devil’s Corner, owned by Brown Brothers and offering great views over the vines towards the distant bay and a selection of locally produced food at the cellar door.
Just up the road is Freycinet Vineyards, where super- talented winemaker Claudio Radenti makes some of Tasmania’s best wines.
On into Launceston and there are some excellent cellar doors around the Tamar River, in particular Tamar Ridge, which is also owned by Brown Brothers and offers light lunches and wonderful views across the river.
Just north of Launceston is Pipers Brook, where some of the best sparkling wines are made and where the cellar doors of Jansz and Bay of Fires provide first-class facilities to taste the range of wines.
Another small producer is Delamere where husband-and-wife team of Shane Holloway and Fran Austin are producing some of the most creative and distinctive wine in the State.
On the edge of Launceston city is Josef Chromy Wines, with its excellent tasting facility and restaurant overlooking a beautiful lake.
And the good thing is that driving around Tassie is simple. The roads — while a little more winding — are very good. It just means taking your time and enjoying the view.
Picture at top: Josef Chromy Tasmania. Picture: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett
- Ray Jordan is leading a Travel Club Tour to visit some of Tasmania’s best wineries. The six-night tour is from May 7 to 13.
- The tour is from $3680 per person twin share, including flights from Perth, accommodation and coach touring.
- The visits include Stefano Lubiana Wines, Moorilla Winery, Pooley Wines, Sullivans Cove Whisky Distillery, Frogmore Creek Winery, Spring Vale Vineyard, Devil’s Corner Cellar Door, Freycinet Vineyard, Holm Oak Vineyards, Goaty Hill Wines and many more wineries. The group will also visit MONA.
- Ray Jordan, one of Australia’s most experienced wine journalists, will accompany the group throughout. Ray has been West Australian Newspapers’ Wine Editor for many years and is the author of the annual The West Australian Wine Guide, based on more than 500 reviews. He has personally shaped this exclusive Travel Club Tour.
- For more information and bookings, visit sevenwesttravel club.com.au/tours or call 1800 998 121.
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