Tasmanian Island

Greetings from Down Under. I don’t watch TV in Sweden but a friend told me to tune into the Australia Post television advertisements here for its services that show a case of wine being collected from a winery and delivered to the eager customer’s home. Banks, insurance companies, newspapers, credit cards all offer an amazing selection of wine and beer direct to their customers. Wine consumers are so well informed and spoilt for choice, not only which wine to buy but also from where and how will they order it. If Aussies are spoilt, are we deprived back in Sweden?

My email to Posten’s CEO last month has resulted in an eerie silence. Perhaps he is visiting Australia researching Australia Post’s sophisticated age-checking system.

I digressed from my main purpose of this posting. As I have been whizzing around Australia visiting wineries there are many things to write about.

I flew down to Tasmania (that not too litle island south of Australia that is a State of Australia) to visit Tamar Ridge, one of the largest producers on the Apple Isle. Will Adkins met me at Launceston Airport and drove to an amazing vineyard overlooking the valley that Launceston sits in and at which the other end Tamar Ridge and their winery lies.

This new 80ha winery of sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot noir was meticulously planted and maintained. While the rest of Australia is in severe draught, lushious Tasmania is not suffering as badly and the vines will need only limited irrigation this year. While the warmer parts of the mainland start harvesting the grapes late December and January, Tamar Ridge starts in late March through to end April and the long growing season with cool nights is creating some elegant crisp wines that are finally finding their place on the world wine map.

I was pleased to hear of the great success they are having domestically (I saw their wines in many stores and winelists) but also in the highly competitive UK market where they have an impressive list of restaurants now serving their wines as well as some retail customers to be proud of.

The Tamar Ridge winery and vineyards are a good 45 minutes drive down the valley and lie adjacent to the river near Devil’s Corner, the name of their second label that is a best selling wine at Australian Wine Club. Dr. Richard Smart, one of the world’s leading viticulturalists, has a PHD team at the winery making small run ferments of specially planted and grown grapes including various Pinot Noir, Riesling and Albharino strains. Their commitment to creating high quality wines that really reflect the varied terroir in this region is quite outstanding. This is the first winery I have visited with its own resident team of scientists tinkering away to find the perfect combination of grapes, soil, yeasts and winemaking techniques. CEO and renowned winemaker Andrew Pirie leads the winemaking effort and his 30 years experience making wine in Tassie has had a marked influence on the consistent high quality and clear style of the wines.

I tasted throug the new range of wines with Will and wine maker Tom Raveach and the 2008 vintage is superb. Their commitment to their cool climate style of wine with a distinct Tasmanian influence is creating some excellent products that are of similar restrained style to the NZ wines which share a similar climate but without the over-powering fruti that Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir can exhibit. The Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir is a big improvement on last year’s sold out vintage. The wine has more typical Pinot Noir characteristics but with balance acidity, fruit and savouriness. The new Pinot Gris was crisp, nutty and dry which will be well received in wine orders we ship next summer as will the Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

It was hard to find fault in any of their wines and while not all of them will find their way into our selection (some are not in the style of wine we know our members enjoy) a good number will be.

Nex stop is Victoria, to visit Sandro a Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate down on the Mornington Peninsula, 75 minutes south of Melbourne…..until then….

Cheers mate! Mark

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