Australian wines - Tasmania

Australian wines - Tasmania. From a standing start in the 1980s, the wines of the island state have become the subject of Tas-Mania in the last few years. The industry is starting to mature as the vines themselves age and add the dimension of complexity. It is one of the most happening regions and change occurs at breakneck pace. Most activity is around Launceston in the north (Tamar Valley ), Pipers River to the east and the Coal River and Derwent Valley around Hobart in the south. Along with the newest, East Coast, they are at around the same latitudes as New Zealand’s winegrowing regions and it shows. In the south the Antarctic influence is more real than the somehow theoretical version that shapes things on the south and south-west coast of the mainland. The topography is as diverse as the climate, which can be cooler or wetter, warmer or drier than anywhere in Victoria and the result is a slow, steady ripening of the grapes, with naturally low yields – the perfect place for wine. Here at the margins, global warming may dictate exactly which grapes it’s perfect for, but for now, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are everywhere, but Pinot Gris and the other Alsace grapes are doing well. Some are also betting that rising temperatures may make the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz route the way ahead. Of the 250-plus wineries, most are tiny, but there is a show of muscleflexing at the next, entrepreneurial (rather than corporate), level among growers who have the experience to move nimbly to exploit the next big thing. The horse-trading over the best sites is dizzying – deals come and go in the blink of an eye. (Andrew Pirie: Tamar Ridge , Pirie Estate Freycinet and Pirie South ; Clover Hill , Domaine A , , Kreglinger – owners of Ninth Island and Pipers Brook ; Stoney Rise .)

It’s a pretty place, and wine tourism comes as part of the business plan, not as an afterthought or something grafted on. Tazzie also ships to the mainland cool-climate ‘base wine’ with enough of the all-important acidity to lift the quality of some of the best Aussie sparkling wine (Arras Hardy’s; Jansz , Bay of Fires – both now owned by – now owned by Yalumba). 

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