Category Archives: Tasmanian Wine

Apr 04 2019

Best Buys: Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay 2018

Posted on April 04, 2019 | By

Wine critic Huon Hooke has just put up a post on Great Value Chardonnays. He was excited to report that a very moderately priced Tasmanian chardonnay from the Derwent Valley, the Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay 2018 ($34) scored a gold ribbon.

You may recall that Hughes & Hughes is the most recent recipient of the James Halliday Wine Companion’s Best New Winery of Year award. Upon bestowing the gong, Halliday remarked: “Without wishing in any way to denigrate past recipients of the Best New Winery award, this year’s recipient has achieved a level of success we haven’t seen before, and are unlikely to see again.”

Such impressive accolades for a new winery would be surprising if it were not for the expertise and experience of the talent behind the venture. Jonathan Hughes had a seven-year stint as assistant winemaker at Moorilla, the David Walsh owned winery on the grounds of MONA, before establishing the Mewstone Vineyard in 2011 with his older brother Matthew, a former banker. It’s situated on the banks of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in the tiny hamlet of Flowerpot.

Recently expanded to a total of 3.5 hectares, the Mewstone vineyards are mostly comprised of Pinot Noir, but also include some small plantings of  Chardonnay, Syrah, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Hughes & Hughes label was started as a second range to allow Jonathan to be “more daring in his winemaking endeavours,” which are informed by styles and techniques picked up from an international career that involved working for top winemakers in Central Otago in New Zealand, Barolo in Italy and Okanagan Valley in Canada.

Grapes for the Hughes & Hughes label are purchased from growers in all parts of Tasmania. The fruit for the Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay 2018 comes from a single vineyard in the … Read the rest

Feb 02 2017

Newcomer Lisdillon Pinot Noir 2015 – Wins Top Gold at Tasmanian Wine Show

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By

No fewer than 57 wines entered the 2015 pinot class of the recently judged Tasmanian Wine Show, a testament to the growing reputation and popularity of pinot noir in the island state.

Some familiar names dominated the trophy and gold medal cache. The 2015 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir won the Chairman’s Selection Hazards Ale Trophy and the 2015 Goaty Hill Family Reserve Pinot Noir won the People’s Choice James Halliday Trophy. Gold medals were awarded to the 2015 Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir, the 2015 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir, the 2015 Goaty Hill Family Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2015 Goaty Hill Pinot Noir.

Interestingly, a wine that I wasn’t familiar with, the Lisdillon Pinot Noir 2015, was awarded a Top Gold – in other words, the standout amongst the gold medal winners!

This modestly priced wine (you can find it for less than $35 a bottle) has been garnering great reviews. The Wine Front’s Mike Bennie scored the 2015 vintage 93 points:

Flavoursome, sappy textured, sticks-to-your-gums pinot noir of purity and quiet power. It’s a delicious wine to settle into, full of black cherry, plummy sweetness, fine, chewy tannins. Has quite a bit of ripeness and concentration yet maintains a freshness and comely drinking. Length is a feature, as is wonderful perfume. Quality stuff here, and plenty for the pinot fancier to get excited about. (The Wine Front, February 2017)

The Lisdillon Vineyard is named after Lisdillon Beach on the Tasmania’s east coast. The picturesque property is close to the town of Swansea and the Freycinet National Park. Owned by the Cotton family since 1971, sheep farmer Crispin Cotton decided to plant vines just seven years ago. Unfortunately, Crispin died in 2014, but his family is continuing to manage the … Read the rest

Aug 08 2013

Tamania’s “Unsung Varietal Heroes”: Experimentation + Innovation is Yielding Exciting Results

Posted on August 08, 2013 | By

When I signed up to a masterclass on “Tasmania’s Unsung Varietal Heroes” at the recent Tasmania Unbottled trade tasting event in Sydney, I wasn’t expecting so many well established mainland varieties to be represented. The lineup included the Moorilla Muse Riesling 2011, the Dalrymple Sauvignon Blanc 2012, the Bay of Fires Pinot Gris 2012, the Glaetzer-Dixon MON PèRE Shiraz 2008, the Petit ‘a’ by Domaine A 2008 and the Grey Sands Merlot 2007. Only a couple of the wines, the Bream Creek Schönburger 2011 and the Holm Oak Arneis 2012, were what the rest of Australia would generally regard as alternative varieties.

Of course, no-one would dispute that sparkling wine and pinot noir are still Tasmania’s star performers. Ed Carr, the chief sparkling winemaker at Bay of Fires and House of Arras, has lifted the profile of Tasmanian sparkling to such great heights that wines like the House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998 rrp $190 compete with the finest French vintage Champagnes in terms of quality and even price! And you may recall from one of my previous posts, 50 Wines to Try in 2013: Pooley Coal River Pinot Noir 2011, that the aforementioned wine won both the Douglas Seabrook Trophy for the best single-vineyard wine and the Dan Murphy Trophy for best pinot noir at the 2012 Royal Melbourne Wine Show.

But the so-called unsung varietal heroes are also starting to garner a fair share of critical acclaim. The wine world was stunned when Nick Glaetzer’s Côte-Rôtie style Glaetzer-Dixon MON PèRE Shiraz 2010 picked up Australia’s most coveted red wine award, the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show. At the masterclass, Glaetzer explained that the Mon Pere is still the only shiraz in Australia … Read the rest

Jul 07 2012

3 Wonderful Aged Wines from Tasmania: A Tasmanian Unbottled Masterclass Tasting

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By

Andrew Pirie, Ed Carr, Peter Bourne and Nick Haddow

On Wednesday I attended the Tasmania Unbottled Cheese and Wine Masterclass.  The Wine Man’s Peter Bourne led the discussion and was joined by the House of Arras’s chief winemaker Ed Carr, Andrew Pirie, chief winemaker at Tamar Ridge and Pirie Tasmania, and the Bruny Island Cheese Company’s Nick Haddow.

The cheese was excellent, especially the four year old raw milk C2, a cheddar style cheese, which incidentally is the only legally made raw cheese in Australia! But the highlight for me was the opportunity to taste three superb vintage wines: the House of Arras Grand Vintage 2004, the Tamar Ridge Chardonnay 2004 and the Native Point Pinot Noir 2005.


If you’re ever weighing up buying a French Champagne or an Australian vintage sparkling, do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle of the beautifully made House of Arras Grand Vintage 2004. (It retails for around $70 a bottle) This elegant, finely beaded wine with complex nuances of flavour and a slight creaminess to the finish is still displaying great vibrancy and freshness. A blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, Ed Carr explained that the wine had spent seven years on lees before disgorgement. It receives a small dosage of expedition liqueur, which introduces a slight oak and brandy spirit into the complex, balanced blend.

Andrew Pirie was Australia’s first PhD in viticulture and as the founder of Pipers Brook Vineyard back in 1974, he is one of the legends of the Tasmanian wine industry. His Tamar Ridge Chardonnnay 2004 was an absolutely stunning example of  Tasmania’s potential to make chardonnay with enough balance and structure to age for a long time.

Pirie explained that Tasmanian chardonnay needs time to evolve. Over time the … Read the rest

Sep 09 2011

Tasmania Unbottled: Showcasing Regionally Expressive Wines

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By

Yesterday I attended Tasmania Unbottled 2011 at Dockside in Cockle Bay Sydney. Sam Stosur’s US Open win and the warm sunny weather had put me in a great mood and this positive frame-of-mind was only enhanced by the wonderful wines on show! Of course, I should know by now that three hours was not long enough to properly appreciate 150 wines from 28 top-flight producers, especially when most of the vineyard owners and winemakers are on hand to talk you through the tastings! Anyway, here’s just a taste of some of the great wines I sampled.

Riesling was the stand-out white variety, but I also tried superb pinot gris, chardonnays and sauvignon blancs. The cool Tasmanian climate seems to endow all the white wines, no matter the variety, with a superb mineral acid structure and clean, fresh fruit aromas and flavours.

Pinot Noir is the main red variety grown in Tasmania. Production of other single red varieties is still very small, but the few superb cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz wines on show certainly suggest that these varieties have great potential in Tasmania. Nick Glaetzer’s rich Barossa heritage, for example, informs his Côte-Rôtie style Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers MON PèRE Shiraz 2009 – a wine named in honour of his famous father Colin. Nick explained that the shiraz was co-fermented with 1% pinot gris, just enough to subtly lift the elegant aromas of red berry, cassis and white pepper in this sophisticated cool-climate shiraz. I was also very impressed with the Grey Sands Merlot 2006, which has just enough bottle age to endow the rich black and red fruit bouquet with those prized wonderful savoury overtones.

Because most Tasmanian producers are very small, they are meticulous about vineyard practices and their vines are typically managed and harvested by hand. Many … Read the rest

Jul 07 2011

Wine Gift Ideas: Vintage Sparkling from Tasmania rivals the finest Champagne

Posted on July 07, 2011 | By

Arguably, the finest sparkling wines in Australia come from Tasmania.  Bay of Fires‘ winemaker Fran Austin argues that what distinguishes the cool climate wines of Tasmania from their high altitude, cool climate counterparts on the mainland is the acid structure in the grapes: “A lot of mainland cool-climate regions are cool because they’re high up, not because they’re down south. In high-altitude wines, the acidity can taste hard. But in cool-latitude wines, you get softer, mouth-watering juicy acidity. And incredible depth of flavour – which means you can work the wines more, let them spend more time on lees before releasing them, producing a more complex end result.” (Epithany – Aussie Sparkling by Max Allen, Langton’s Magazine.)

The potential of Tasmania for producing fine sparkling wines was first recognised in the 1980s when the French Champagne House Louis Roederer established the Jansz vineyard in collaboration with Heemskerk in the Tamar Valley. Jansz was Tasmania’s first sparkling wine to be made according to the traditional méthod champenoise. In 2009 the Jansz Tasmania Premium Vintage Cuvee 2004 beat out some serious French competition to claim the Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine of the Show at the Sydney International Wine Competition.

Last year the House of Arras released the EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998, which at a recommended retail price of  $190, made it the most expensive Australian sparkling wine on the market. Wine critic Max Allen described his reaction to a sneak preview over a decade ago of the 1995 Tasmanian vintage made by winemaker Ed Carr: “I still remember tasting these wines and thinking here was Australian sparkling that approached the best Champagne in terms of finesse, complexity and depth of flavour.” Epithany: Aussie Sparkling by Max Allen, Langton’s Magazine.

Taltarni owned Clover Hill in … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Domaine A: Tasmania’s Finest Cabernet Sauvignons!

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By

More Tasmanian Wines from our Hobart trip

After attending  Wild Rice’s excellent production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we headed down to Hobart’s City Hall to listen to Haitian-American composer and violinist DBR, Elan Vytal aka Dj Scientific, and the queen of Haitian song, Emeline Michel. Our friend James couldn’t believe his luck when the bar at the venue was selling Domaine A’s Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 for $35 a bottle. The wine is actually a classic Bordeaux blend with 4% cabernet franc, 4% merlot and 2% petit verdot. It is a deliciously aromatic, finely structured wine with a wonderfully long finish.  Yet another great example of how Tasmania is excelling at making cool-climate, elegant European-style reds!

Domaine A has established a very strong reputation for its Bordeaux blends. James Halliday described the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 as by far the best [cabernet sauvignon] in Tasmania, and here’s the Decanter’s Andrew Jefford’s reaction to an earlier vintage of the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon:

This wine gave me the shock of my tasting-note life on May 12th 2005, when Andrew Caillard brought 114 wines from the Langtons Classification pool over to the UK and served them blind. This was my pick of the Cabernets and Cabernet blends (I gave it half a point more than Cullens Cab-Merlot), yet it was so different to the rest of its peers.

As the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown explained, since Domaine A’s Swiss born Peter Althaus first started making wine in Tasmania in 1990, he has produced “cabernet blends as though they were French classified growths.”(Wine Advocate # 189 June 2010)

Shortly after emigrating from Europe, Peter and wife Ruth purchased the Stoney Vineyard, a one acre block in the picturesque Coal River Valley about 20 minutes out of Hobart. The … Read the rest

Mar 03 2011

Moorilla Estate & MONA: An Extraordinary Marriage of Art and Wine

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By

Last year I attended an exhibition at the TarraWarra Museum of Art in the Yarra Valley, where I was awestruck by Marc and Eva Beson’s magnificent gallery that sits like an earth sculpture in a gorgeous vineyard setting and houses a wonderful collection of 20th century Australian art.

But even this remarkable experience didn’t quite prepare me for MONA – David Walsh’s extraordinary Museum of Old and New Art, which is part of the Moorilla Estate on the Berriedale peninsula about 20 minutes by car or ferry from the centre of Hobart. As Huon Hooke remarked, “As someone who’s as attached to art as I am to wine, I find it hard to express what a monumental achievement Mona is. Imagine if John-Paul Getty had decided to erect the Getty Museum in Hobart instead of a hilltop in Los Angeles. It’s that scale of significance.” (Estate’s Art and Soul by Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 2011).

Designed by the Melbourne architectural firm Fender Kasalidis, the building is carved into the sandstone hillside and has a very subterranean feel. We descended a spiral staircase three flights down to begin our tour with curator Mark Fraser at the welcome bar, which serves Moorilla wines, Moo Brew and excellent coffee. The next few hours were spent exploring the art, which ranged from Sidney Nolan’s Snake, an epic 45-metre-long piece with 1,620 different segments, to Julius Popp’s Bit.fall, a waterfall that cascades down the cliff-like sandstone walls spelling out a baffling array of words.

Lunch was at the newly opened winery, where we enjoyed an excellent antipasto and sampled some very good Moorilla Wines. A favourite was the Moorilla Estate Muse Pinot Noir 2008. It had a delicious savoury and tart fruit palate complemented by a vibrant acidity … Read the rest