Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wine Tour - Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Just this week I returned from a 6 day trip to Tasmania. Starting in Hobart we made our way around to Launceston where we headed out to the Tamar Valley to stay a few nights and spend a day on a wine tour through the region before continuing the rest of our travels.

The Tamar Valley is just north of Launceston, approximately 15 minutes from the CBD and runs along the mighty Tamar River. The Tamar Valley is becoming more and more well known for its cool climate wines, in particular its Pinot Noir and Riesling.

We were challenged with constant rain for the whole day, but we didnt let that dampen our spirits, we had 6 wineries to get through! Our Tour Guide Terry picked us up directly from our accomodation and had printed up individual tasting notes for each winery with plenty of room for us to write our own tasting notes as well.

A few weeks back I was reading an article in Gourmet Traveller's WINE about some of Australia's best Chardonnays and was excited to see that Tasmanian Chardonnays were fast becoming clear challengers to the establishment of Australian chardonnay. I was more excited to discover that the itinerary that Terry had put together for us, ensured that I was going to be able to sample two of the wines they had listed.

First winery was Velo Wines, and unbeknown to us, 200 meters from where we were staying.  Aptly named, Velo means bicycle in French and is run by Mary and Michael Wilson who is an former Olympian and Tour de France cyclist come winemaker. Both are extremely passionate about their wines and discussed their expansion to include a restaurant as well as their cellar door. The 2008 Velo Chardonnay (wooded) was listed in Gourmet Traveller's WINE as one of the challengers to the establishment. One word. Fantastic. Im not a huge chardonnay drinker but I bought a bottle of this to take home. Light, with citrus and peach notes, smoky on the nose but not too smoky on the palate. Very different to any chardonnay I have had before. Cannot wait to return when the restaurant is open!

Next up we headed to Rosevears Estate. Part of Pirie Wines, Rosevears was recently bought out by Tamar Ridge Estates. Dr Andrew Pirie is still chief winemaker and now CEO of all Tamar Ridge Estates. The Pirie Sparkling was probably my favourite here.

View of the Tamar River from the Cellar Door at Rosevears Estate - Yes there is a river down there somewhere!
Back in the car and off to Ninth Island. Probably one of the more well known Tasmanian wineries. We were lucky enough to be able to taste a $125 bottle of their cabernet sauvignon which was sensational. Ninth Island is part of Kreglinger Wine Estates, along with Pipers Brook Vineyard. We tasted a good selection of Ninth Island and Pipers Brook Wines here. The Pipers Brook 2009 Pinot Gris was really lovely, but the highlight of this winery would have to have been the toilet signs!

Cute! - Ninth Island
By this time we were begining to get extremely hungry, so our next stop was Moores Hill Estate where we would stop off to devour a few cheese platters and take in the valley.

Moores Hill Estate
Moores Hill was a really stunning vineyard. The cellar door which incorporates a semi-cafe where you can enjoy cheese platters is really warm and welcoming, the open fire adds a nice touch. We took a seat on the verandah looking out over the vineyard (see above) and soon after our Cheese Platters arrived!

So on our platter we had a selection of Tasmanian Cheeses... the Ashgrove Smoked Cheddar, Tasmanian Heritage 'Red Square' Washed Rind Brie, Tasmanian Heritage 'Blue Opal' Blue Brie, homemade quince paste, some gherkins, salami and a sundried tomato and olive tapanade. All with a basket of fresh baguette and crackers. The Blue Brie was my favourite, smooth and creamy and since the others arent huge blue fans, I got to eat most of it! We enjoyed these with a bottle of the Moores Hill Riesling.

It was getting close to 2.30pm and we had been on the go (and on the wine) since 10am. Terry met us back at Moores Hill and we decided that we would just like to visit one more winery. So we head off to Tamar Ridge Estate.

Unfortunately by this stage I think we were all a little bit over it and a little bit tired (and maybe a teensy bit drunk), so I dont have all that much to say about Tamar Ridge Estate. However, I made the decision that this would give me a good excuse to come back, visit again and visit the wineries we didnt get to visit on this trip.

Overall apart from the rain, it was a great day and we really enjoyed it. Would recommend a tour through the valley, but maybe in summer when its a little nicer!


  1. Gunns sells Tamar Ridge Estates
    16 Aug, 2010 10:53 AM
    VICTORIAN-based winemakers Brown Brothers has bought Tamar Ridge Estates.

    In a statement released this morning, Brown Brothers announced that it had entered into an agreement with forestry company Gunns Limited to buy its Tamar Ridge Estates vineyards and other winery interests.

    Brown Brothers chief executive Ross Brown said that the family was delighted to have the opportunity to acquire Tamar Ridge Estates, which will be the ideal complement to its existing vineyards and brands.

    "The Brown brothers board has been carefully considering how global warming may impact our vineyards through drought and high temperatures and recently adopted a strategy to source grapes from cooler areas,'' Mr Brown said in a statement.

    "As part of this process, we discovered Gunns Limited in Tasmania - owners of Tamar Ridge Estates whose brands include Tamar Ridge, Pirie, Devil's Corner and Coombend) had decided to sell its vineyard and winery investments."

    Mr Brown said that Brown Brothers plans to maintain Tamar Ridge Estate brands' independence and integrity by ensuring autonomous brand management.

    The purchase will be finalised on Tuesday, August 31 2010

  2. Well looks like I may have been possibly more drunk than initially indicated! Thanks for the clarification! :)