Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tasmania Unbottled

The roadshow of Tasmanian wines was educational. Tasmania is hard to follow, as many wineries are very small and their distribution to the mainland is patchy. During this event, I had a good look at Riesling and in particular Pinot Noir.

Two Rieslings stood out for me: The 2008 Heemskerk Riversdale Coal River Valley Riesling was my pick. It showed attractive stone fruit and apple and appealing acidity. The wine is made in a dry style, but not as steely as some from the Claire. Almost as good, and probably a lot cheaper, is the 2008 Stoney Rise Riesling. It is quite similar in flavour with some savoury characters as well.

To date, I have not been a big fan of Tasmanian Pinot Noir. This show has not changed my view dramatically, although the quality was quite consistently good. And when I am a bit critical, I am using the top Pinots as benchmarks, such as Bindi, Bass Phillip, Bannockburn etc. There are two shortcomings across the board: the Tasmanian Pinots do not fan out enough on the finish and the mouthfeel tends to be a bit lacking or thin. On the other hand, fruit quality and wine making have improved a lot.

The best wine for me was the 2007 Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir. It had substantial cherry fruit, seamless oak integration and silky tannins (the only one).

Then followed a group, including 2007 Clarence House Estate Pinot Noir, 2008 Heemskerk Derwent Valley Pinot Noir (good length, but lacking mouthfeel), and 2008 Home Hill Pinot Noir (smooth finish).

Following were Pinots from Pirie, Stoney Rise, Sugarloaf Ridge, Derwent Estate and Moorilla.

Bay of Fires was a real outlyer, with its 2008 Pinot Noir. It had very soft strawberry flavours and quite a yummy texture. Nothing savoury here. Not to my taste, but popular with some.

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