A drop in the ocean

Tasmania – that pretty little island that sits south of Melbourne – is making waves like never before. Visitors from the big cities are moving south as Tasmania’s clean, green environment and pristine beauty attracts waves of tourists and new residents.

The island’s produce and dining scene are also renowned for quality, bringing foodies in by the plane load. Once Tasmania suffered because of its isolation, but not anymore.

It has also been a long road for Tasmanian wine but today the best local wineries have now well and truly hit the big time. In the old days there were just a handful of family-owned wineries along the Derwent, Huon and Tamar valleys but now wineries from around Australia are clamouring for a piece of this viticultural paradise. 

And for good reason too – Tasmania has some of the finest viticultural land in the country, evidenced by its growing booty of National Wine Show trophies, including a win of the famous Jimmy Watson Trophy with a local, cool climate shiraz.

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The cold climate and ancient soils make Tassie the perfect region for crafting sparkling wine

The jewel in Tasmania’s crown is its icy cool climate – not perfect for sunbathing but ideal for grape varieties such as pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling to hit optimal ripeness.

Unsurprisingly, Tasmania’s climate is regularly affected by icy winds from Antarctica, which ensures it avoids any of the heat spikes often seen on the Australian mainland. And that gives the wines a freshness and brightness of acidity combined with delicate and elegant fruit characters.

Tasmania can be broadly broken into three wine regions: the Tamar Valley in the North, the Southern vineyards clustered around the Derwent and Huon Valleys and the East Coast, each with their own differing personalities.

Tasmania first burst on the fine wine scene with the quality of their sparkling wines, from the likes of Jansz, Kreglinger, Clover Hill and Arras. With a climate similar to Champagne and almost identical winemaking techniques, Tasmania produces some of the finest sparkling wines in Australia.

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The vineyards of the Tamar Valley have a picturesque beauty that is hard to match

However, more recently it has been the still wines of Tasmania that have been gaining acclaim, particularly with the cooler climate grape varieties such as pinot noir, riesling and chardonnay.

While Tasmanian wines have probably not yet reached their potential, it is most likely the low-yielding, fagile pinot noir for which Tasmania will become best known – the local examples showing fine aromas of wild strawberry, red cherry and mushroom combined with a velveteen texture. All absolutely delicious when paired with some Asian crispy skin roast duck.

Have you tried any wines from Tasmania? How do they stack up?

(Images: House of Arras; Tourism Australia)

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