Tasmania: toying with perceptions

Two days in and Tasmania is already toying with my perceptions.  On Sunday, Hobart, the capital of this cool climate region hit 31 degrees. And so far, with the notable exception of Pressing Matters (who make four Rieslings ranging from bone dry to fully sweet, pictured), local Rieslings have been bone dry.  Most surprising of all, there’s no great love of Sauvignon Blanc here.  In fact one producer told me “it’s earmarked for the chainsaw!”

In tune with this week’s International Cool Climate Conference, a cooler, wetter spell of weather has set in.  It’s easier to understand that the mean daily temperature over the growing season is cooler than Reims and Dijon….  It’s also readily apparent in the terrific acid structure of the wines, especially some remarkably focused Chardonnays and Rieslings (bone dry and dessert wines).

Favourites Rieslings and Chardonnays so far?  Craigow Riesling 2008, Craigow Botrytis Riesling 2004, Derwent Estate Riesling 2004, Pooley Estate Riesling 2004 and Pressing Matters’ 2008 R69 and R139 Rieslings (where R is an approximation to the residual sugar).  At Moorilla Estate, sparkling wine nut Conor Van der Reest makes a marvellous sparkling Riesling (Moorilla Estate Vintage Riesling Brut 2011) of granita/sorbet-like freshness – the perfect palate cleanser.

For Chardonnay, neighbours Stefano Lubiana and Derwent Estate stood out, especially Lubiana’s 2004 and 2008 Chardonnay and flagship Collina 2008 and Derwent Estate’s 2010, the latter particularly intense (Derwent supply grapes for Penfolds Yattarna).

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