As Australian wineries are moving into the 2021 vintage hopes are sky high that the nightmare of 2020 will be blown away. We are a tough lot, our sense of humour generated by the knowledge that complaining isn’t going to make things better. And over the past month, the prospect of one of the different jabs offers security on a level we could only dream of when the new year was welcomed.
The consumption of high-quality wine had been an unexpected panacea halfway through last year. The reasons were multifaceted, the results unquestioned across the board of small, medium and large companies.
Tasmania is a particularly interesting market, its producers small, with a handful of medium operators. Before Covid-19 and China delivered life-threatening blows, Tasmania was riding high, the world its oyster. Wine Tasmania, and its CEO Sheralee Davies, amassed a whole-of industry business able to supply information from top down to micro level. If you look for Tasmanian wine in your favourite mainland wine store you’ll be lucky to find it; 40 per cent is sold in Tasmania, evenly split between cellar door/direct and wholesale.
In generations to come books will be written about the economic damage Tasmania inflicted on itself and that caused by other states shutting their borders in a game of economic dominoes. But weirdly, the Tasmanian business model self-adapted, so that even at the height of Covid-19 and border convulsions, its pre-existing wine/holiday/lifestyle sector survived.
Wine regions (GIs) do have boarders, so it’s possible that Tasmania will create regions which would achieve nothing. As it is, the whole-of-state marketing has been a godsend. It’s partly psychological, emphasising the freedom to go wherever the mood takes you, seldom having to drive exceeding two hours on the road. The rewards of lifestyle tourism are exceptional, an ever-changing matrix of crystal-clear seas, little settlements with houses and shops built two centuries ago from stone quarried nearby, many repurposed as restaurants or antique dealers.
2020 Meadowbank Wines Riesling
Never forget to include Tasmania (here Derwent Valley) on the list of the best regions of Australia for riesling. This is akin to high class, floral Rheingau wine, with layer-upon-Layer of Meyer lemon and lime that has no need of cellaring, but will repay 25 years without pausing for breath. 97 points, drink to 2045, 12% alc, Screwcap, $35
2019 Haddow + Dineen Grain of Truth Pinot Gris
Tasmania pioneered pinot gris. Hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, wild barrel fermented, neither fined nor filtered. Pinot gris is transformed by its vineyard bonus and by all the right levers pulled at the right time in the elevage of the wine. 95 points, drink to 2030, 14.5% alc, Screwcap, $48
2019 Lost Farm Pinot Noir
The Angove family are fifth generation winemakers, but in 2008 Richard Angove worked vintage in the Tamar Valley. Years later he returned to a group of Tamar grapegrowers making chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling. The deep colour heralds an expressive, perfumed bouquet and a take-no-prisoners palate. Spice, bramble and red berries point to a long future. 93 points, drink to 2029, 13.5% alc, Screwcap, $42