Southern Tasmania Wine Region

Not too far out of Hobart Tasmania is the southern Tasmania Wine region. Nature in this area has its salubrious effects. Take, for example, the impact that the winter rains, the cool climate, the bright sun and the ocean breezes have on grapes: The slow ripening of grapes over many months results in clusters of small berries that have a high ratio of skin to juice. This creates wines that are more extracted and with deeper colors and flavors that you would normally expect in cool weather wine climates. We got chances to experience the effects at a number of southern Tasmanian wineries.

Bangor Winery

Bangor Winery, the southernmost of Tasmanian wineries is just beginning to produce its first wines. We especially enjoyed its 2016 Jimmy’s Hill Pinot Gris, with its crisp tastes of apple and pear, with a touch of grapefruit. But while Bangor is just now ramping up, it also offers taste of wines from some of its neighbors. These included a refreshing, dry 2012 Cape Bernier Maria Sparking Cuvee consisting of 70 percent chardonnay and 30 percent pinot noir; and a pinot noir that we especially enjoyed: a 2012 Bream Creek Pinot Noir (whose wines, as discussed below, we sought out through the rest of our time on the island);

And to add a little protein to its offerings, it has borrowed some of the wares of a neighboring oyster farm to offer its Pacific oysters either natural or grilled. We had a half dozen natural (with nice minerality and a briny taste, in contract to many of the larger, creamier, but less tasty oysters we have had in Australia to date. These oysters also worked well grilled Kilpatrick style, with bacon and Worcester sauce,

Domaine A/Stoney Wines

We sampled a number of wines from both Domaine A/Stoney Winery’s Stoney collection (generally light, fruit-driven, ready-to-drink wines) and Domaine A (more complex, aged by the winery, and still ageable for a number more years). While the Stoney wines that we tasted were generally pleasant, we especially enjoyed a number of the Domaine A wines. These included:

  • 2013 Lady A sauvignon blanc (which has spent 18 months in new oak, but remains surprisingly crisp and fresh;
  • 2010 pinot noir (which still has considerable acid and tannin, but in which the dark fruit still shines) and
  • A powerful 2010 merlot and 2008 cabernet that promise to be very good after a number of additional years in a cellar.

The winery’s 2010 Petite “a” cabernet, meanwhile, is a Left bank-style Bordeaux blend (63 percent cabernet) that is beginning to drink nicely now, but will only get better with age.

Pooley Wines

We also found some lovely wines at Pooley Wines. We enjoyed:

  • The fruity, yet crisp 2016 riesling;
  • 2015 pinot noir; and
  • 2013 cabernet/merlot blend.

Our absolute favorite, however, was a relatively young, nicely balanced single vineyard pinot noir—the 2015 Butcher’s Creek–which has deep dark fruit that rounds off to a smooth earthy finish. It is very drinkable now, and will only get better over the next several years. If fact, we liked this wine so much that after buying the first bottle, we returned to buy more.

Frogmore Creek

Frogmore Creek has some nice, aromatic whites and some dynamite dessert wines. Among our favorites were:

  • 2016 Pinot Grigio
  • 2015 Iced Riesling dessert wine which was made of grapes that were partially dehydrated in a refrigerator before being pressed into a wine with 216 grams of residual sugar;
  • 2011 Botrytis riesling dessert wine which was left on the wines until attacked by the “Nobel Rot” which punctures the skin, thereby dehydrating the wine to its essence of 200 grams of residual sugar per liter.

The winery also has a restaurant at which, as discussed below, we had a beautifully presented and very enjoyable meal.

Riversdale Estate

Riversdale Estate the largest privately-owned vineyard in southern Tasmania, is a lovely facility that produces a range of cool-climate grapes—sauvignon blanc, chardardoney, pinot gris, riesling and pinot noir—across three product families, from its entry Roaring 40s label, through its mainstream Riversdale Estate, to its premium Stellar Reserve Collections. At the recommendation of the manager, we combined tastes from each collection. We enjoyed the relatively crisp, but still fruity non-vintage Riversdale Estate Crux sparkling, the 2014 Riversdale Estate Botrytis Riesling, and our favorite, a 2013 Riverside Estate Centuarus pinot Noir. The 2014 Riversdale Estate pinot gris, meanwhile, provided little at the front of the palate, but really expressed itself at the back.

Other wineries

Bream Creek Vineyards

After being introduced to Bream Creak’s 2012 pinot at the Bangor Winery tasting room, and then discovering its 2013 chardonnay at a Port Arthur restaurant, we were anxious to taste more of the winery’s wares.  As it doesn’t have its own cellar door, its wines are tasted at Dunalley Waterfront, a restaurant/gallery located in the town of Dunalley  (at which, as discussed in our Southern Tasmania restaurant post, we also had a wonderful lunch). We began the ten-wine tasting with a lovely, fruity, slightly tart, but with a smooth finish, 2015 Riesling. Then came a fun, 2015 Schonburger, from an aromatic German grape that is something like a particularly fruity Riesling. Although we were less impressed by the tart 2015 sauvignon blanc, the muted, less expressive 2014 Pinot Grigio and the 2016 Pinot Rose, we were back on track with the 2013 chardonnay (lightly oaked with moderate malolactic that is reminiscent of apple and pear) and 2013 pinot noir (rich and full bodied with dark fruit and an earthy finish, with enough structure and fine tannins to allow it to last for a number of years) that we had and enjoyed the day before. Tom’s (albeit not Joyce’s) affair with Bream Creek wines continued with the 2012 cabernet merlot, and the moderately sweet 2014 Mosaic (made from Schonburger grapes). We were less enthused by the moderately sweet 2013 Late Harvest Schonburger dessert wine.

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