Posts tagged ‘Tasmanian Wine’

February 21, 2018

Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, 2014

Drinking wine in Australia, the last post: The best Australian Chardonnay I’ve ever had the privilege to drink.  Much lauded; all the major wine mags/bloggers love this white.  But at the same time a long ways away from what else could be bought in this price category; mid range Burgundy and medium level California Chards and top of the line BC whites; line them all up and we’re hard pressed to see the dollar value.  But it was good, mark my words.


Very present.  By which I mean unmistakably Chardonnay, assertive, determined.  It’s like a movie script that had twelve rewrites, each to hone the previous version, but sometimes to the detriment of the end product.


It is dry, like mixed nuts in its nuttiness, oak laden with some Bosc pear skin on the palate, rough hewn if you know what I mean.  Rich.  Foie gras rich.  You will not accidentally mistake it for a thin Italian Pinot Grigio.  The majority is Tassie, but a minority South Yarra is blended in (I mean Hardy’s has a lot of grapes, why not?).  But it also speaks to the cool climate conditions of Tasmania and some of the genius bottles emerging from the state which, relatively speaking, is a wine region on the nascent side.  It shows the enormous opportunity and luscious wines you can score with a trip down south.


Price: We saw this in a few high end wine shops for between $70 and $90 AUD.  Pass.  Then I picked up some duty free for $55 AUD.  [Editorial comment: I was on my way to Hong Kong from Australia. I asked how much wine I could bring in.  They told me HKG only monitors alcohol; anything under 20% volume there is no limit.  I repeat that, anything under 20% there is no limit.  I felt like an adult.  A real, honest to god adult, living in an adult world, without a nanny state looking over my shoulder determining my every move.  Imagine.  Then a week later I came back to Canada…]


Market Liquidity: Like Olympic judging, sometimes the gold doesn’t go to the best of the lot, even if the marks are highest.

February 7, 2018

Pirie, Tasmanian Sparkling

Drinking wine in Australia 3: In search of a brilliant sparkling we drank glass after glass of Australian sparklers, but mainly Tasmanian wines because, well, it’s almost impossible to find them outside of the state.  The wine industry in Tassie is young, the volume is low, and only a few generic sparklers make it overseas.  Ditto their Pinot.  Plus, restaurants serve them at a low cost and with some cheer.


We made the trek deep up country to Jansz and sampled some sensational vintages and bought their limited and very tasty rose.  We had a beautiful regular old non-vintage from Clover Hill.  We drank glass after glass as an aperitif which was uneven but usually fun.  We drank a poorly reviewed Shingleback and found it enormously food friendly and ordered more.  


There is a trend, good or bad, for hip Oz restaurants to have five categories on the wine list: Red, White, Sparkling, Orange and Chilled Red.  I can’t see the words “chilled red” without thinking of Lambrusco, and indeed many of the reds we sampled had that cheap fruit tang of L.  The orange category, say a Sem/Sauv Bl left on the skins or a Cab Sauv not left on the skins, were sometimes refreshing sometimes sour.  But perhaps the best thing going on in Australia is bottle after bottle of brilliant sparkling and restaurants that give you a choice per glass, at about $10 per.


Of course you can’t return home and buy House of Arras, Clover Hill, Swift, Frogmore Creek, Sittella, Yarrabank, Bay of Fires, or any of the other myriad sparklers we tried.  BC just doesn’t let the consumer choose; they choose for us.  And shelf space, they tell us, is at a premium…


When all was said and done there really was no comparison to the generic non-vintage Pirie which was yeasty and aromatic and effervescent and just all round wonderful (and hard to find, even in Melbourne, but worth the effort) and for which, if Canadians were allowed to be adults and buy wine and bring it home in volume the way other nationals were doing we would have ordered several cases.


 Of course you can’t buy it and ship it like the rest of the world.  You can’t even contract an agent to get it.  You just have to live with the fact that the BC government is an omniscient beast who not only knows all but acts in our best interest.  Not.


Price: Around $34


Market Liquidity: Drinking wine in the socialist state of BC sucks. Tassie rocks.

February 6, 2018

Two Wonderful Chards: Devil’s Lair Margaret River Chardonnay & Frogmore Creek Chardonnay, 2016

Drinking wine in Australia 1: We bought the Devil’s Lair because Decanter lauded it with a huge amount of points; we wanted to see what the fuss was.  For us, there wasn’t too much fuss. This is a wonderful Chardonnay, crisp and fruity and with muted oak; it has a decent finish but it wasn’t as wow as anticipated.


The Frogmore Creek on the other hand was really lovely, what a sipper.  Delectable; smooth, nutty, light oak, bracing acidity, a Sprite finish. 


Prices: Low 30s for both, Australian bucks.


Market Liquidity: Not all Oz Chardonnay has to taste like Lindeman’s.

December 23, 2016

Seasonal Sparklers: Kim Crawford Fizz, 2011 & Jansz Premium Cuvée


It’s amazing what shows up under the tree this time of year.  Even a bottle of (the eloquent, nutty, dry, oozingly charming) Veuve.  But for those of us who have more realistic wine budgets, I’m always on the lookout for something a little bit, how shall I put it, pocket-book friendly.


We pitted Natalie MacLean’s pick, the boisterous, fruity, and ridiculously effervescent Kim Craword against the dryer, simpler and maybe more satisfying Tasmanian Jansz.  The sparkling Pinot we discovered in the summer trumps both of these, but at the price point I could recommend either as a cocktail mixer or, on their own, I’d prefer the Jansz, with its aromas of berries, a hint of hazelnut and a long lemony finish.  And boy would I like Marquis or Liberty or even BC Liquor to ship in some of their late disgorged or myriad other sparklers, not just the base model.


The Kim Crawford is actually a vintage fizz and we had higher expectations.  It was more on the “fun” side than the serious side, but which is sillier, KC calling their bubble Fizz or Jansz saying they make Méthode Tasmenoise?


Price: Jansz is $28 before the extras, Kim Crawford, $30 before all the rest.


Market Liquidity: Brilliant.  Both.  (There are no bad reviews of sparkling allowed in the holiday season.)


September 16, 2016

Avancé Pinot Noir, 2013


Tasmania rocks.  Not your soft-spoken Okanagan Pinot.  No masquerade trying to fake Burgundy.  A luxurious, athletic, full-bodied Pinot, boasting licorice, cherry, menthol, with a finish that is smooth to sleek, if a tad alcoholic three years in.  Pure pleasure.  Hic.


Price: $23.60 USD in Seattle and impossible to source in BC.  (Go to BC Liquor and search “Tasmania” and get ready to view, wait for it, all five wines.  Sad.)


Market Liquidity: No faux.

July 22, 2016

Abel’s Tempest Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling, 2011

Wow.  This isn’t Prosecco.  This so isn’t Prosecco.  And what a relief, from the generic fizz that permeates every social event year round.  Neither it is the Jansz, the just OK Jansz, readily available in BC.  This is really stupendous, so much depth, there’s plenty of berry fruit but it’s dry, not heavy, there is a finish that goes on for antiquity, and by god is it easy to drink.  The price point is high, but frankly it’s better value than the $15 more for the cheapest Champagne and more than twice as good as many “premium” sparklers $10 less.  I’m not going to belabor how much we liked this and how fast it disappeared or even tell you where we found it because it’s hard to find, but you just have to try it.  It’s a stunner.

Abel’s Tempest Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling, 2011

Price: A rather steep $35 before taxes at a YVR independent.


Market Liquidity: I believe it was Byron who wrote “Man, being reasonable, must get drunk.”