Exploring the Hidden Gems of Tasmania: The Unlocked Tour Guide

By | 27 April 2024

Sarah Ahmed charts the irresistible rise of the cool-climate home of some of Australia’s finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

By Sarah Ahmed

Two hundred years after he planted Tasmania’s first vineyard to produce “grape wine, made in imitation of Champaigne,” one expects Bartholomew Broughton would have been proud of the island’s reputation for sparkling wine today. Equally, he may be puzzled it took so long for meaningful viticulture to take hold. Even in 1986, Tasmania had just 47ha (116 acres) of vines, versus 2,418ha (5,975 acres) today.

The shifting enological center of gravity in favor of cool-climate regions and rising popularity of sparkling wine (which comprises almost 40 percent of production) partly explain Tasmania’s growing prominence in the Australian winescape. The glittering success, however, of the island’s finest still and sparkling Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in recent years has put Australia’s southernmost, coolest state firmly in the spotlight. Following a marked 21st-century growth spurt of professional growers and winemakers, Tasmania has shown that it can consistently deliver beguiling wines of great complexity and finesse from these much-revered grape varieties.

Worldwide headlines, including Sky News’s exuberant “Tasmanian Bubbles Claims Historic Scalp”, announced the first defeat of Champagne in the “library vintage” class by the House of Arras Museum Release Blanc de Blancs 2001 at the 2022 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. This victory was particularly significant, given that Arras first produced its completely Tasmanian fizz in 1998.

In a similar display of talent, Lowestoft, established in 2019, affirmed its reputation for excellent Pinot Noir when its flagship cuvée La Maison won the James Halliday Trophy for the Best Pinot Noir for the third consecutive vintage at the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards in November 2023. The 2022 vintage also won the show’s 60th Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for Best Young Red, bringing Tasmania’s total for this prestigious award to three since their first win in 2011.

The year concluded on another positive note, with three Tasmanian wines being selected for the eighth edition of Langtons Classification of Australian Wine in December 2023. Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged sparkling wine and Tolpuddle Vineyard’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, established in 2012, were identified as some of Australia’s most sought-after fine wines on the current secondary market according to the Australian fine-wine auction house.

All three brands were created by well-established mainland producers of high repute, which provides an insight into the challenges of growing grapes in a cool climate. Even seasoned warrior Robert Hill Smith (whose family established Yalumba in 1849 in the Barossa) admits, “There has been a steep learning curve about what things really look like in Tasmania: the low yields, volatile vintages, and disease. Managing the detail is imperative,” he said, and it has led to Hill Smith Family Estates (which owns Jansz, Dalrymple Estate, and Pontas Hill) investing progressively deeper in land, clones, and a winery.

Tasmania’s early wine-growing history was dogged with failure. It did not augur well that the state’s original experimental vines—all nine of them—were planted by William Bligh on Bruny Island, who landed there from HMS Bounty in 1788. When he returned in 1792, the vines proved to have been as mutinous as the Bounty’s crew.

Tasmania’s early promise, however, is recorded in contemporaneous documents cited by Anthony Walker for his MA thesis (which became the basis of his book Vintage Tasmania: The Complete Book of Tasmanian Wine). Apparently, Broughton’s “imitation of Champaigne” was pronounced “very little inferior to Champaigne” in a report by The Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser in 1827.

Although the superior performance of “Black Cluster”—aka Pinot Noir—was also recorded in the early 19th century, Walker speculates that failure to build on Broughton’s success was rooted in British settlement. Tasmania, he observes, had “very few immigrants (less than one percent) from the winemaking countries of Europe, and so had almost no settlers with any knowledge of viticulture or winemaking.” If today’s professional producers can struggle with flowering and ripening in Tasmania’s cool climate, pity the early settlers, who encountered even cooler conditions. Doubts lingered about whether Tasmania was suitable for wine growing.

The cavalry—European settlers—came to the rescue in 1956 and 1958, when Jean Miguet, a French civil engineer, then Claudio Alcorso, an Italian textile merchant, planted the La Provence (now called Providence) and Moorilla Estate vineyards that have stood the test of time, unlike their predecessors. But attracting the investment to scale up viticulture and grow a wine industry was another matter altogether.

By the 1970s, a reappraisal of cool-climate wine growing was under way as table-wine production overtook fortified. Highlighting the investment opportunity in The Australian Financial Review in 1975, Andrew Pirie wrote, “[O]ne of Tasmania’s resources which has come to light most recently is the value of certain unique climate-soil associations, in both the north and south, for quality dry table wine production.” He had skin in the game, having planted Pipers Brook vineyard with his brother in 1974, thereby increasing Tasmania’s vineyard area tenfold. 

“Using Köppen climate classification to align homoclime comparison was significant,” said Pirie, who attained Australia’s first PhD in viticulture. Its criteria included solar radiation levels, rainfall at maturity, and humidity, in addition to temperature. He (correctly) believed that Tasmania’s high solar radiation levels during the growing season explained why grapes could regularly ripen in Tasmania, despite its low temperature summation (which bears comparison with Reims or Dijon). After initially “ignoring the science” and dallying with Cabernet Sauvignon because, admitted Pirie, “we were in awe of Bordeaux at that stage,” the focus shifted heavily to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the 1980s, with a big boost for sparkling production when Champagne Roederer co-founded the Jansz sparkling-wine label in 1985 (which was acquired by Hill-Smith Family Estates in 1997).

Reflecting now on Tasmania’s subsequent trajectory of success, the importance of correctly matching climate to cultivar temperature requirement tops Pirie’s list. Pirie also mentioned the importance of focusing on 100 percent Tasmanian-sourced brands (as opposed to diluting regional expression with mainland fruit) and, doubtless related, the arrival of trained winemakers, which has multiplied the number and sophistication of home-grown labels.

Jeremy Dineen, a pioneer in the winemaking milieu of the island, recalls a time when only five full-time professional winemakers braved the terroir. A paucity of “professional growers” and a clear dearth of mature vineyards further compounded the challenges faced by the nascent industry. Opportunities to enjoy mature wines from well-aged vines were scarce. Claudio Radenti’s offerings from Freycinet were one such rarity on the East Coast. During the 2012 International Cool Climate Symposium, Dineen bravely predicted an exponential upswing in the quality of wines as more plantings took root, and more professionals chose to till the fertile Tasmanian soil. His predictions have rung true: Tasmanian wines have gone from strength to strength, embracing their cool-climate uniqueness in a bid for elegance and authentic terroir representation.

Having had the honor of being a judge at the 2023 Tasmanian Wine Show, my fourth visit to the island, the transformation was as clear as day. Entries were received from all over the island, including the North West, Tamar Valley, North East, East Coast, Coal River Valley, Derwent Valley, and Huon Valley. Adam Wadewitz, Chair of Judges and a viticulturist at Tolpuddle Vineyard, lauded the ongoing “amazing stuff” in the region. He attributed the mounting renown of Tasmanian wines to tireless, respectful farming and the creation of unique wines by passionate producers.

High-quality wine production is no longer an exception but a norm, a major shift from an era when hobbyists and part-timers held sway. The rise of independent estates and entrepreneur-led vineyards continues to drive quality to new heights. Tolpuddle Vineyard’s co-founder, Michael Hill-Smith, highlights the erstwhile lacuna of processing facilities as being a potential snag. He argues that regardless of the prowess of the contract winemaker, achieving an authentic wine that mirrors the land’s character and the producer’s individuality could be elusive.

Pinot Noir, being sensitive to terroir nuances, is perhaps the most sterling testament to this golden age of discovery. Producers have steadily begun to unearth the most favorable sites, clones, and practices to craft wines of unparalleled refinement. John Schuts, a once contract winemaker for the Derwent Estate, now serving as its incumbent winemaker since 2013, strongly espouses a holistic appellation-bound approach. Thanks to recent investments in a bespoke, small-batch winery, the Pinot Noir harvesting process has substantially evolved from once or twice a season to almost twenty selective picks over a couple of weeks. This close attention to soil and clonal differences has ushered in the creation of Derwent Estate’s top-tier Calcaire label Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Demonstrating its exceptional quality, the 2020 vintage Chardonnay claimed the title of Best Chardonnay at the 2023 Tasmanian Wine Show.

Vineyards like Tolpuddle, now known as Lowestoft, were most revealed recently as their fruits were formerly sold to other brands. Lowestoft, first established in 1986 near the Derwent River, is among Tasmania’s oldest vineyards. Its reputation grew significantly since The Fogarty Wine Group took over in 2019. Marlborough-born winemaker, Liam McElhinney, stared that the key was to harvest earlier and reduce the usage of new oak. The best cuvée La Maison’s results consist of a mixture of the most lignified whole-bunch parcels, something McElhinney describes as ethereal and intriguing.

The wine producers of Tasmania are increasingly gaining worldly experience and better understanding the significance of site. An example of this is Joe Holyman, who left his family’s vineyard to obtain Stoney Rise in the Tamar Valley in 2004. Attracted by old vines planted near the Tamar river, Holyman swapped the Cabernet Sauvignon with new Burgundy clones. Influenced by Dujac, he meticulously selects slowly-ripening, better lignified blocks of old vines for his top cuvée, Holyman Project X.

Yet another approach is seen in Jim Chatto’s precision-oriented strategy for growing distinctly Australian Pinot. Starting from a clean slate, he planted eight clones in what he deemed the perfect spot in the colder Huon Valley region. This area received much acclaim when Home Hill became the first Tasmanian producer to win the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for Pinot Noir in 2015.

Stefano Lubiana, after obtaining the Panorama vineyard in Huon Valley, planted his main vineyard in the drier region of Derwent Valley in 1990. Recognized as a leading influencer in Tasmania’s boutique winemaking scene, he’s also seen as a pioneer. Lubiana’s vineyard, Tasmania’s only certified biodynamic estate, has led to an increase in site expression. This inspired him to release his first single-block Pinot Noir in 2014 and he now produces three distinctive types: Ruscello, Il Giardino, and La Roccia. Lubiana embraces these different expressions but ensures they are vinified similarly, all involving 100 percent whole bunches and bottle-aging. He sees these rich, nuanced, long-lasting Pinot Noirs as proof of Tasmania’s high-quality wine production.

Producers are fully leveraging Tasmania’s long growing season, which consistently delivers sparkling wine and Chardonnay of exemplary quality, characterized by an enviable mix of acid structure and fruit purity and intensity. This is particularly apparent in the island’s burgeoning selection of “late disgorged” sparkling wines.

Arras’s Museum Release Blanc de Blancs 2001—a champagne game-changer—got kudos from Ed Carr, Australia’s leader in sparkling wines, who described it as a “time capsule.” As for its impressively young successor, the 2004 vintage, Carr noted it took two decades to reach its current state. Initially, only 400 bottles of these early releases were set aside, but Carr is now doubling that and working on ways to evolve the style in magnum and age-reserve wines using large-format foudre, with full backing from Arras’s new owner, Handpicked Wines.

While Arras sources fruit from across the island, smaller producers have focused on specific regions and vineyards, resulting in a stimulating range of styles. After leaving Jansz, where she served for 14 years, Natalie Fryar continues to concentrate on sparkling wines under her own label, Bellebonne, which was set up in 2015. She started with a Vintage release and has been crafting elegantly refined wines with a delightful mouthfeel from selected Pipers River parcels. Going forward, she plans to age her wines on tirage and under cork for longer periods, reflecting a trend across the island to enhance complexity, particularly for Vintage wines.

In comparison to Pinot Noir, high-end, single-vineyard Chardonnays like those from Sinapius and Holyman, both true vintner projects, are less abundant as most grapes are invariably used for sparkling wine production. Moreover, leading producers from the mainland have been skillful in sourcing premium fruit for blending alongside their own grapes in their flagship multiregional Chardonnays, notable examples being Penfolds Yattarna and Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay.

A growing number of properties—including Derwent Estate, Pooley Estate, and Meadowbank—are clawing back grapes  and making ambitious estate-labeled wines. Conversely, astute mainland producers like Michael Hill-Smith and Martin Shaw of Shaw & Smith have snapped up top fruit sources—in their case, Tolpuddle, which supplied fruit for Eileen Hardy and Arras.

Having whetted appetites for Tasmania’s emerging fine-wine scene, there is a hitch. A substantial amount of Tasmanian wine rarely, if ever, escapes the avid clutches of the home market, since the island produces less than one percent of Australia’s wine, of which around only 4 percent was exported in 2023. But this looks set to change. Research commissioned by Wine Tasmania (the Tasmanian wine sector’s representative body) predicts that, with high demand, the next decade will be one of accelerated growth, with annual production projected to soar by between 127 percent and 392 percent by 2040. In the shorter term, Sheralee Davies (Wine Tasmania’s CEO) expects production to double as yields increase following four consecutive years of light yields and as new vineyards come on-stream.

Across the Bass Strait, mainland Australia has learned a tough lesson about accelerated growth producing downward pressure on pricing and quality. For Gerald Ellis of Meadowbank, one of the island’s most respected growers, “[W]hile things are rosy now, the Tasmanian industry is very mindful of the consequences of production-driven development rather than market-demand-driven development […]. Our market has to always be at the top end and quality-driven to ensure our success.” An island-wide determination to build on the trajectory of success, combined with the challenges of making wine in marginal conditions, should work in Tasmania’s favor. Contrasting Tasmania with Marlborough’s “easy 100ha [250-acre] walk-on sites,” McElhinney reckons that “a Tasmanian grape boom is slightly tempered by site, water availability, and labor.”

Without question, Tasmania has many more exciting fine wines in the pipeline from the island’s new and under-the-radar producers, generation next, and high-profile mainlanders who keep knocking at the door (most recently Yabby Lake of Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fame, who just bought a vineyard). By common consensus, there are great sites yet to be discovered. Looking ahead, Michael Hill-Smith is excited: “If everything goes right and everyone plants in the right places with a sense of purpose, it could have the same cachet as Burgundy or Barolo.”


House of Arras Museum Release Blanc de Blancs 2004 (Upper Derwent Valley, Lower Derwent Valley, Huon Valley, Tamar Valley) Tasted January 30, 2024

On tirage for 14 years, with four years under cork, the 2004 vintage has tremendous purity and intensity to the fruit and is distinctly dry (dosage 2g/l). Poised, as if on a rail, it is beautifully structured, with quince and al dentewhite peach at the core; juicy grapefruit and Golden Delicious make the mouth water. Hints of snuffed candle and a touch of waxiness hint at its age, but this 405-bottle release is another Peter Pan. | 97

Bellebonne Blanc de Blancs 2016 (Pipers River) 12% ABV; tasted January 17, 2023

From a single vineyard. Taut, beautifully focused, and so expressive of the region, with pronounced sea-spray and oyster-shell layers to the grapefruit and al dente white-peach fruit. Finishes long and reassuringly dry, with a hint of fine Cognac. Fermented and aged in seasoned French oak barriques for nine months, the base wine underwent bâtonnage and 100% malolactic fermentation. Disgorged after five and a half years on tirage and aged for six months under cork. Dosage 4g/l; 1,182 bottles produced. | 95

Clover Hill Cuvée Prestige Blanc de Blancs 2010 (Pipers River) 12.5% ABV; tasted January 18, 2023

Disgorged in November 2021 following ten years and ten months on tirage, this yellow/gold sparkling Chardonnay is mouth-filling and rich. A beautiful, briny acid line teases out layers of grilled hazelnuts, lemon butter on toast, torched lemon meringue pie, dried apricot, and tangy yellow (tinned) peach. Great depth of flavor, yet still firm and fresh, with cleansing acidity to the lengthy finish. (The base wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation.) Dosage 5g/l. | 95

Jansz Late Disgorged 2014 (Pipers River) 12.5% ABV; tasted January 14, 2023

Despite a rich mix of flavors such as oyster shell, sea spray, mushroom, toast, and spice, this blend of 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir holds a refreshing mineral acidity that brings wonderful definition and length. A savory mousse adds to the mouthfeel and the finish. It was on tirage for 89 months. The dosage is 3g/l; the base wine was partially fermented and aged in French oak for a span of seven months. :

Moorilla Muse Extra Brut 2017 from Tamar Valley features an alcohol content of 11.7% and was tasted on January 8, 2023. This vintage was cool, underwent zero malolactic fermentation, and spent four years on tirage. This led to the creation of a severe, tightly held style, with a youthful and tangy crab apple, lemon, and icing-sugar-dusted breakfast grapefruit flavoring. Some fermentation in old puncheons, along with a dosage (5.5g/l) from a solera barrel lends phenolic interest and grip, coupled with nougat and apple-bloom nuances. It is made up of 83% Chardonnay, 17% Pinot Noir, and is sourced from Moorilla’s St Matthias vineyard.

Apogee Deluxe Vintage Brut 2020 from Pipers River has an ABV of 12.5% and was tasted on February 5, 2024.

A delightful, tenacious, and finely structured single-vineyard offering from Andrew Pirie’s newest endeavor. The aroma of apple blossom and apple peel seamlessly combine with hints of nougat and sea spray, enhancing the freshness of juicy and baked apple fruit. The fruit showcases exceptional intensity and purity. A minerally and almost sorbet-clear taste is ended with a refreshing acidity. It continues to astonish over four days, unveiling sophisticated frangipane/patisserie complexity. It has 36 months of tirage, composed of 46% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot Noir, and 7% Meunier. Dosage is at 8.5g/l. 93+

Pirie Late Disgorged 2011 (White Hills, Tamar Valley) has 12.7% ABV; tasted February 5, 2024

The aging complexity delivers by old French oak (20%) and 10 years of tirage is evident. It continues to charm with its well-structured and plump roasted/torched yellow peach/peach tarte tatin, cooler strawberry ice cream, creamy nougat, and subtle hints of yeasty Vegemite and ozone. While full in body, it lacks the acidic punch or the resilient mousse of the top-ranking wines but compensates with an appealing vinosity. The blend encompasses 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir; dosage at 8g/l. | 92


Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2022 (Coal River Valley) 13.5% ABV; tasted February 5, 2024

A charismatic Chardonnay, with a touch more palate weight than usual in a cool, low-yielding vintage—but not at the expense of this single vineyard’s scintillating acidity and pronounced minerality. Twangy nectarine and fresh-grated lime/striated lime, whetstone, flint, and oyster shell snag the attention, reeling you in and casting long on the palate. Muscular white peach, juicy apple, icing-sugar-dusted grapefruit, and notes of apple bloom and bay leaf chime in. Terrific impetus and length. Outstanding. Fermented and aged for nine months in French oak barriques (one third new), with gentle bâtonnage. | 98

Holyman Chardonnay 2021 (Tamar Valley) 12.5% ABV; tasted January 17, 2023

Sourced from 35-year-old vines, this tightly coiled Chardonnay wears its 100% new French oak (puncheons) like a corset. Terrific line, length, and zesty energy, with incisive lime-zest and grapefruit drive, tension, and twang. | 95+

Freycinet Chardonnay Estate 2020 (East Coast) 13.5% ABV; tasted January 16, 2023

Scents of orange blossom, oatmeal, and cashew introduce a mix of creamy, ripe white peach, juicy Golden Delicious apples and grapefruit dusted with icing sugar, all balanced with smoothly integrated oak and acidity. This lavish yet restrained Chardonnay unfurls slowly for a lasting impact. Not to be hurried, this potent single-vineyard Chardonnay hails from the original 1979 plantings. It’s aged for 10 months in French oak, 25% of which is new, with bâtonnage lending an extra layer of complexity. | Rating: 95+

Freycinet Chardonnay Estate 2006 (East Coast) 13.8% ABV; tasted January 16, 2023

Showing impressive resilience, this Chardonnay presents a rich, flowing palate with enduring intensity. The flavor profile reveals peach cobbler (complete with roasted peach and a nutty, oatmeal crumble topping) and creamy fruit salad that lingers, thanks to graceful acidity and seamless oak. Claudio Radenti heralds this as his finest Chardonnay to time. | Rating: 93

Sinapius Close Planted Chardonnay 2021 (Pipers River) 13% ABV; tasted January 18, 2023

This enticing Chardonnay, sprouting from nine variants of meticulously groomed high-density Chardonnay vines, resides in a greatly exposed amphitheater. The wine emits hints of wildflowers, fennel bursts, oyster shell, and early-stage honey, both in scent and taste. Full-flavored lemon and white peach delicately dance on the palate, accompanied by a silk-textured sourdough residue and subtle roasted hazelnut. An undercurrent of mineral acidity enforces a long-lasting aftertaste. The wine was fermented and aged in French oak barrels, their sizes varying between 130 and 600 liters, for a span of 12 months. | 96

Derwent Estate Calcaire Chardonnay 2020 (Derwent Valley) Tasted January 12, 2023

A touch of sophistication is lent by the classy French oak (completely new), both to the aroma and the taste, adorning the refined, creamy white peach with a whisper of crème pâtissière. The amalgamation of a backbone of flinty, crystalline, and grapefruity acidity imparts momentum and longevity. Still young. | 94


Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2022 (Coal River Valley) 13.5% ABV; tasted February 5, 2024

Originating from a chilly, low-yield year, this iteration presents itself as a multidimensional, tantalizingly spicy Pinot Noir. Through a fine-tuned intertwining of textural tannins, a pertinent sense of depth is created around the captivating trio of black, blue, and red cherries and berries. Meanwhile, these flavors are firmly grounded. Undertones of beetroot, cheroot, and suede contribute a touch of saltiness. Much like its start, its finish is flavorful and full of spice, adding a delightful aroma of anise seed. It underwent fermentation both as whole bunches and as whole berries, followed by spending 10 months in French oak barrels with one third of them being new. | 96+

Stargazer Palisander Vineyard Pinot Noir 2022 (Coal River Valley) 12.7% ABV; tasted February 5, 2024

Initially, the wine exhibits hints of red licorice and black tea. Upon exposure, it reveals a robust core of red and black cherry fruits near the skin and stone, complemented by floral, coltsfoot/anise, amaro, and oyster-shell nuances along with a trace of bitter-chocolate oak. These complex flavors are bound together by a lively thread of acidity and robust tannins to form a finely refined, enduring finish. The fermentation process comprises 20% whole bunches, and 80% whole berries and it is matured for eight months in French oak, including 22% new. | 94

Pooley Cooinda Vale Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021 (Coal River Valley) was tasted on January 14, 2023 in half-bottle size.

The wine exhibits a crimson color with delightful notes of cherrystone, sour cherry, violet, and amaro on the nose and palate. The bouquet is enhanced by vivacious summer-pudding fruit, with hints of cinnamon and clove. The enveloping acidity and fine-yet-firm tannins bring vivacity and tension to the long-lasting finish. The northeast-facing vineyard is home to sandy loams and sandy clay loam over impervious clay (114, 115, Pommard, and Abel clones). The fermentation process included 5% whole bunches and the wine was then matured for 11.5 months in 35% new French oak barriques. | 94

Pooley Butchers Hill Pinot Noir 2021 (Coal River Valley) has a 13.5% ABV and it was tasted on January 14, 2023 (half-bottle size).

Butcher’s Hill was planted in 2003 with clones 114, 115, 777, and MV6. Despite being relatively exposed and leading to faster ripening, it still produces robust Pinots with a darker palette of sweet plum and black cherry fruit compared to Cooinda Vale. The fruit, however, is impeccably structured with well-integrated spicy oak and a skeletal structure of mineral tannin. During a long growing season, the harmonious acidity coaxes out the flavor layers, ending on a long, stone-washed finish. The entire crop was destemmed, and maturation occurred in 30% new French oak barriques for 11.5 months. | 93+

Glaetzer-Dixon La Judith Pinot Noir 2014 (Coal River Valley) has a 13.7% ABV and was tasted on January 9, 2023. Barossa-born winemaker Nick Glaetzer created this unusually bold Pinot Noir in honour of his late mother, sourcing from a single vineyard. During a cool, low-yielding vintage that brought in 1.8 tonnes/ha, the resulting wine is super-concentrated, mouth-filling, and teems with intrigue. A rich array of forest fruits, smoked meat, black tea, black pepper, orange peel and floral layers abound (50% whole-bunch fermented). Complementing this are velvety chocolate tannins, thanks to the 30 months spent in new 220-liter French oak barriques. The production was limited to just 251 bottles. | 95

Chatto Wines Isle 2021 (Huon Valley) carries an ABV of 13.4% and was tasted on January 14, 2023.

The premier cuvée is a blended concoction that comes from the beginning and end of Jim Chatto’s 2ha vineyard. Its flavor profile suggests indulgent dark chocolate and Black Forest cake, wrapped in a luxurious, velvety layer of tannins. The presence of tart black cherry, orange peel and Aperol contributes an uplifting acidity, and lends depth, intricacy and tension to the drink. The finale is lengthened and intoxicating. Although rich, it also strikes a balance with its lightness and movement. | 96

Chatto Wines Intrigue 2022 (Huon Valley) 13.4% ABV; tasted on January 23, 2024.

This is a unique selection from the Chatto vineyard barrels, which includes all eight Pinot clones and 1% Siegerrebe due to a fortunate turn of events. It expresses an attractive combination of blueberry aroma, ripe fig and Turkish delight both on the nose and on the palate. With a lovely depth, the palate remains soft and is held together by a network of delicate, resinous tannins. Beneath this, nuances of mulch, leaf and green tobacco pouch can be experienced. The finish is enduring and captivating, leaving you with a curious taste of briny salinity that is reminiscent of a lagoon. | 95

Holyman Pinot Noir 2021 (Tamar Valley) 12% ABV; sampled on January 17, 2023.

A vivid hue, with jewel-bright pomegranate fruit to the nose and palate, the grapes sourced from the oldest 1986 vines. Cleaves close, with pithy, picky tannins and crunchy acidity, making for an intense, linear, taut delivery. Bristles with potential. In a warm year, it was fermented with slightly higher than normal whole bunch (75%); aged in French oak barriques, 30% new. | 95

Holyman Project X 2019 (Tamar Valley) 12% ABV; tasted January 17, 2023

Sourced from the markedly cooler 0.8ha (2-acre) Boris block planted in 1986. Fermented with 100% whole bunches, in an outstanding, late-ripening year, a potent charge of uber-pithy tannin and taut acidity guide this Pinot’s laser-focused beam of red fruit. Tight, keeping its powder dry, it exudes charisma and demands patience. | 96

Stefano Lubiana Ruscello 2022 (Derwent River) 13.5% ABV; tasted February 5, 2024

Close to a tiny stream, on silt laid over permeable gravelly clay, the scent of anise and cinnamon combines with the deep aroma of sweet, lush fruit. The taste is nimble and light, featuring an array of flavors from black, red, and blue berries, cherry and plum, to currant, delicate radicchio, and mulch hints. With warm terra-cotta tannins providing structure, it resonates with a sensual earthiness and showcases the perfect balance for beneficial aging. | 95

Stefano Lubiana La Roccia 2022 (Derwent River) carries 13.5% ABV; tasted on February 5, 2024. The drink showers the mouth with fine, millefeuille tannins, adding depth to the fruit entwined within. Upon exposure to air and time, there unfolds a cascade of red cherry, blackcurrant, and blueberry flavors yet to be explored. The flow of the drink is preserved by a chalky, mineral acidity. The oak bestows a classy polish, resulting in a brilliant sheen. The wine’s structure is striking, sourced from a hillside block layered with deep red clay marl over clay, and limestone bedrock underneath. It is still in its early stages. | 96+

Stefano Lubiana Il Giardino 2022 (Derwent River) also holds 13.5% ABV; tasted on the same date, February 5, 2024.

Positioned next to La Roccia, this area has a northern exposure and is characterized by dense, silted black clay with a layer of gravel over clay and limestone. The fruit profile is decidedly red, featuring pomegranate, cranberry, and cherry in both its raw and processed forms. There are also hints of verdant sap and dark floral notes. A pronounced acidity shapes and energizes the fruit, while graphite and chalk spray-like tannins adhere closely, sculpting a finish that is youthful and mysterious. Its potential is impressive. | 96+

Derwent Estate Calcaire Pinot Noir 2021 (Derwent Valley)
This wine has an alcohol content of 13.8% and was tasted on January 9, 2023. This is the first batch since 2018, exhibiting youthful yet striking flavors of raspberry, strawberry, and plum, offset by subtle beetroot undertones. Its finish is extended by a flurry of chalky tannins and sharp acidity, with a luxuriant hint of kirsch. The oak treatment (100% new) serves to structure and refine the fruit rather than flavor it. Tasted in January 2023 and scheduled for release in 2024, it shows great promise.| 94+

Lowestoft La Maison Pinot Noir 2022 (Derwent River) This wine, having 14% alcohol, was tasted on February 5, 2024.

Silky, supple, and sleek, displaying black cherry and blueberry, sappy blackberry and attractive tannins. As it breathes, flavors of nori, leafy black tea, red licorice, floral pink peppercorn, and cheroot come forward. Marvelous detail and finesse, with cleansing acidity and fine-grained tannins amplifying the precise, lengthy conclusion. A blended allocation from the original 1986 closely-planted vineyard (8,300 vines/ha), gathered over a period of three weeks. Fermented in part with whole bunches, followed by 10 months’ maturation in oversized French oak (20% new). | 96

Freycinet Pinot Noir 2020 (East Coast) Features a 13.8% ABV and was tasted on January 16, 2023

The appearance is of bright crimson, with impressions of laurel leaf, conifer, and a slightly spicy tamarind edge accompanying the brooding, ripe black cherry and plum fruit flavors. Coming from a drought-affected year where the small-berried bunches weighed a mere 90g, it is found to be dense with a robust thread of pithy suede tannins, yet retains juicy persistence. Matured for 17 months in French oak, with 30% being new. | 94

Freycinet Pinot Noir 2010 (East Coast) Comes with a 14.5% ABV and was sampled on January 16, 2023

From a low-yielding drought year, reveals delicious tertiary spice, with aromatic chinato bitters and licorice to the concentrated kirsch, blackcurrant, and cassis fruit. Powerful, ripe, layered tannins make for a robust palate, with attractive warmth to the finish. A hug in the glass. | 93

Sinapius Close Planted Pinot Noir 2021 (Pipers River) 13% ABV; tasted January 18, 2023

A blend of 12 clones from two high-density blocks, La Clairiére and The Enclave. Fermented with 100% whole berries, a lively interplay of bright acidity and fine-grained tannins buoy and carry the well-delineated al dentered currant, cherry, and rhubarb fruit. Subtly smoky charcuterie oak brings savory nuance. Finely etched, yet intense, it spent 12 months in French oak barriques (20% new). | 95

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