For those of you who follow my Wine Barre account on Instagram (@winebarre_australia), you'll know that I spent some time in Tasmania over the holidays. And I'm sure you were glued to Insta stories for my daily wine reviews (right? right??).
I love sharing my wine tasting experiences - and a recent study by neuroscientists suggests that wine tasting engages your brain more than any other behaviour.
With that, let us delve into the burgeoning wine market that is Tasmania... Small compared with other Australian wine regions, but definitely growing in stature - particularly their sparkling wines, which you will find at most cellar doors.
If you're looking to plan a wine-focused trip to Tasmania or if you're heading that way regardless and suddenly think "wine tasting could be fun...", I'm going to suggest to propose three cellar doors that I think should be on your "must" list.
1) Puddleduck Vineyard in the Coal River Valley region (not far our of Hobart): this place has a great family story and is a great place to sit and taste - you guessed it - with your family. There are ducks everywhere about the place, including the tables, which is fun for little ones who may not yet be tasting age. We chose one of their flights for tasting (pictured) which included a sparkling (Bubbleduck - apparently when they ran out last year it sent locals into a tailspin), Riesling, Chardonnay, Rose and Pinot Noir. Like many wineries in Tasmania, we had the option to match our flight with local cheeses. This was a treat and I definitely recommend. The wines were beautifully paired with the cheeses. We enjoyed all of their wines, but I was partial to their Chardonnay (I'm a fan of the oaky, buttery style and this. was. it.) and their Pinot Noir (another that Tassie is known for). We bought a bottle of each, if that gives you any indication of how much we enjoyed them.
2) Jansz: One for sparkling lovers! Along the Tamar Valley Wine Route, this place is a must visit for their wines, their lovely cellar door staff and their space. The winery itself is inviting, and one of their employees told me whether people are tasting wine or not, they encourage them to utilise the space. Make memories. Have a laugh with friends. I found this an interesting business model but clearly they're doing something right. I think I was their first visitor of the day, which was a plus since I had the place to myself! Their knowledgeable and friendly staff answered my tens of questions and I had a great chat with them. I tasted a flight of sparkling wines and walked away with a bottle of their 2013 vintage which was made in the methode tasmanoise - a play on words trademarked by Jansz to let people know that it is 100% Tasmanian. Nice.
3) House of Arras / Bay of Fires / Eddystone Point: Ok wow. So many wonderful wines to taste, and the cellar door manager made sure we did side-by-side tastings of their different brands to compare varietal (and price, in a way). We started with the Arras sparkling wines, and I don't think we disliked any of them. But I particularly enjoyed their Brut Elite (done in the methode traditionnelle which is made from 55% Pinot Noir grapes) - their only non-vintage (NV) on the list that still came in at $48 / bottle. The fun part of the tasting was the side-by-side comparisons of Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point though. I recognised the Bay of Fires name and label but had never paid particular attention to Eddystone Point, even though that's more likely to be the one on shelves in the local bottle shop. We tried the 2018 Riesling, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Chardonnay and 2017 Pinot Noir. Without fail, my preference was for the Bay of Fires one every time. Could this have been because I knew which wine came from which bottle? Potentially. Different things will influence you during a tasting. But our cellar now has a couple of bottles each of the Bay of Fires Sauvignon Blanc (it would stand its own against a New Zealand one), Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so the comparison was convincing enough.
Not familiar with the Bay of Fires or Eddystone Point labels? I will post some side-by-side shots on my IG stories...
Happy tasting! and go with the local cheese platter pairing, if one is offered!