From the tasting team

Tasting Team on Tour: Dave Brookes heads to Tasmania

By Dave Brookes

9 Oct, 2022

Over the next few months, each of our Tasting Team members will spend time in their dedicated regions tasting for the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion. Here's what Dave Brookes discovered during his visit to Tasmania.  

Tasmania is hot right now. Not in a climate sense, of course. I speak of the quality and consistency of its wine, the interest in the region from winemakers and wineries from the mainland and overseas, and, finally, the tribe of loyal wine consumers that are besotted with Tassie wines from the first sip.

I’ve got to say, I’m right there with them, having recently spent time with my nose buried in a wine glass, tasting a swathe of Tasmanian wine samples for the next iteration of the Halliday Wine Companion at The Lounge by Frogmore Creek overlooking the waterfront in Hobart, followed by five days judging at the Royal Hobart Wine Show. This is what I learnt.

A man wearing a hat sniffs a wine glass
Dave Brookes with his nose buried in a wine glass.

The 2022 vintage is of very high quality, but quantity is down by about 13 per cent. Cooler conditions at the tail end of the growing season built depth, flavour and structure in the wines.

The quality across the board is very impressive indeed. From pinot noir (at price points unheard of a decade ago) that deliver pinosity in spades, through nuanced and complex offerings that offer stunning drinking, impeccable focus, detail and a distinct sense of place.

Chardonnay is in fine form across the price tiers, showing pristine, focused fruit with abundant, vivid, lacy acidity and drive. The rieslings showed plenty of diversity in style, from steely and precise through to textured and complex, with a smattering of off-dry styles.

Shiraz/syrah was also impressive with its cool spicy lines, and pinot gris likewise showed diversity and an inherent drinkability that was very pleasing to see.

The sparkling wines are simply world class, and with Arras leading the way, I’m sure the French will be casting some nervous glances over their shoulders. Actually. Scrub that, they are already here with Pernod Ricard powerhouse and Champagne Grand Marque G.H. Mumm about to release Mumm Tasmania.

G.H. Mumm Chef de Caves Laurent Fresnet has teamed up with Australian sparkling winemaker Trina Smith to produce a pinot noir-dominant sparkling wine that is sure to bring even more focus from across the world onto the wonderful sparkling wines from the Apple Isle.

Aerial shot of Hobart's waterfront
An aerial shot of Hobart’s waterfront, where Dave tasted his way through Tasmania’s wines. Photo courtesy of MACq 01.

During a phone call with Stargazer winemaker Samantha Connew, I quizzed her as to what she was most excited about for Tasmanian wines in the near future. Without hesitation, she said, “new vineyards and new entrants into the Tasmanian wine scene”.

There was a flush of vineyard planting in the Coal River Valley and the East Coast from 2015–2017, and there is some obvious excitement to see the vineyards come online and new wines and producers enter the Tasmanian wine scene. I know I’m looking forward to seeing the fledgling wines from the new plantings.

The future looks very bright for Tasmania. The wines just keep getting better, its cool-climate offers both perfect growing conditions and insurance for the future, and there is just something about the confluence of stunning natural beauty, pristine wilderness, great restaurants and a world-class wine offering that draws us to this amazing slice of Australia.

We are indeed a lucky country. 

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