Written for popupwine.com.sg in June 2016.
The small island of Tasmania is Australia’s most southerly state, and it’s coldest. It is as southerly as New Zealand’s South Island. This cooler climate enables Tasmania to produce wines that are very different to those produced in other Australia states. Tasmania is an important producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc – grapes which also grow superbly well in New Zealand.
With its mild summers and long autumn days, Tasmania – once known as Van Diemen’s Land – was quickly identified by early settlers as ideal for wine production. It was one of the first areas of Australia to be planted with vines and was the source of cuttings for the first vineyards in Victoria and South Australia.
Tasmania – or “Tassie” as it is known locally – has only 1,320 hectares of planted vines, less than 1% of Australia’s total. Yet demand for Tasmanian grapes is high: it is the only Australian wine region where demand for grapes consistently outstrips supply.
The quality of Tasmania wine, particularly Sparkling Wine made from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, is high. Jancis Robinson, the British wine writer, describes the Island as “a serious producer of Australia’s finest sparkling wines”. Clover Hill’s Tasmanian Cuvée – a wine made using the Méthode Traditionelle originally developed in the French Champagne region – is a particularly fine example. It is a high scoring “exotic sparkler” described by James Halliday as “rich and complex”. It is available in Singapore from Pop Up Wine.
Hardys – one of Australia’s leading producers of sparkling wine – now source all of their premium wine from the island.
Most Tasmanian vineyards are clustered around the cities of Launceston in the north of the Island and Hobart in the south.
An island, Tasmania has to endure strong winds coming in off the Indian Ocean, Bass Strait and Tasman Sea. Wine producers often build large screens around the perimeter of their vineyards in order to protect against these winds.
James Hindle, 2/6/16