From the tasting team

Dave Brookes on Tasmania's stellar year

By Dave Brookes

11 Dec, 2023

Tasmania leavens the Australian fine wine story writes Tasting Team member Dave Brookes.

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I’ve visited Tasmania five times over the past 12 months and every visit convinces me that there's another layer to peel back. The intricacies of site reveal themselves through exposure to stories of scarp and dip, woven with history and an eye to the future.

The nature of the land and the people who grow grapes and make the wine become clearer with each visit, and prompts me to start thinking about my next trip before I’ve barely left the island.

It gets like that. The confluence of wine, art, food and natural beauty is certainly a heady mix and it is little wonder that our southern isle is high on the list of places to visit for many mainlanders.

The recent Tasmanian vintages, though relatively low-yielding, have been of high quality and it seems that each time I visit, there's a new cellar door open, new wines to taste, and new stories to soak in.

Dave BrookesDave Brookes.

Just a couple of days ago a press release from Wine Tasmania drifted into my inbox advising me that Tasmania is the only state where its grape growing workforce grew over the past decade. It's up by 74 per cent, compared with a 29 per cent reduction nationally, and during the same period Tasmania was also the only state where females in grape growing roles increased (up by 115 per cent).

There were a record number of cellar door visits in 2023. One quarter of all visitors to Tasmania popped into venues to sample their wares, and every time I visit there seems to be a new tasting room – Westella, Mayfield Estate, Eastford Creek, and most recently, Bream Creek, along with the lovely new Pressing Matters cellar door in the Coal River Valley.

It seems to me that the increased interest from interstate wineries hoping to set up shop down south, and the influx of excellent winemakers who now call Tasmania home, has had the cumulative effect of raising everyone's game and we can see that in the consistent quality across all producers.

Bream CreekInside the Bream Creek cellar door.

Tasmania picked up another Jimmy Watson Trophy with the 2022 Lowestoft La Maison Pinot Noir nabbing the silverware at the 2023 Melbourne Royal Wine Awards. And for the third year in a row a Tasmanian wine, the 2022 Meadowbank Pinot Noir, took out the top gong at the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge. Arras won the Best Australian Sparkling Wine at the Champagne and Sparkling World Championships, and the 2022 Riversdale Estate Pinot Noir won Champion Wine of Show at the 2023 Cool Climate Wine Show.

Fledgling wine labels provide exciting drinking opportunities, too, with producers such as Two Tonne Tasmania, Rivulet, Utzinger, Sonnen, and Wine by Baby all carving out a bright future with their wines.

There is no doubt Tassie is on a roll. And just penning this has me scribbling down a note to buy some fishing flies for a combined wine and fly fishing mission, while peering at the calendar, willing a block of space to appear so I can make another visit.

Tasmania has that effect on you.

View the latest tasting notes from Tasmania.