Tony Cox escapes the heat of the Coast for the cooler climes of Hobart, discovering local vineyards that are creating some truly stunning drops.
The thought of another hot, humid summer in the sub-tropics had me thinking of cooler climes – and where better to quench a thirst than a trip to Hobart, Tasmania and the surrounding areas to sample some of their vinous offerings.
One could spend weeks sampling Hobart’s vibrant spirit, craft beer and wine production scene but we narrowed things down to marshalling our discreet gang of 11 to a couple of cellar visits.
Your scribe was desperately wanting to visit Pooley as Anna Pooley has always been an exemplary winemaker but our posse wasn’t aware we had to book. We know for next time, and there definitely will be a next time.
Our first stop was at a nearby vineyard that the Pooley team assured us would be able to accommodate us, and their advice was bang on.
Puddleduck was just down the road and we enjoyed a private tasting with the viticulturalist who could tell us about both the vineyard and winemaking.
Their 2020 Bubbleduck Sparkling is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, with extended time on lees (almost three years) providing delicious yeasty complexity. A low level of dosage (approximately 1.5-2 grams/litre) gives it a bracing acid line which makes it super clean. For those who enjoy zero dosage Champagne, this would float your boat.
The next wine to really impress was the 2023 Riesling which displays delicious citrus notes and stunning acid line – ideal with oysters. Given the weather was inclement, what better way to warm up than with the Puddleduck VSOP Brandy, a bottle of which accompanied me home alongside some aged riesling they had for sale. Aged in old pinot noir barrels, the brandy featured toffee and marmalade notes and provided an inner warmth on a fresh day.
The second and final stop was Derwent Estate, where we had lunch at their restaurant, The Shed, which impressed not just with the quality of ingredients and food but also the extensive provision of gluten-free options – delicious.
With north-facing views from a natural amphitheatre over the Derwent River, it is well worth investigating.
We didn’t do a tasting as such but shared a few bottles from across the range of Estate wines with lunch. The 2019 Sparkling kicked us off in fine fashion. An even blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, it was a fuller, more generous wine than the Puddleduck, having been through full malolactic fermentation, using 15% reserve wine and having a higher level of dosage. Something I could easily settle into.
The second wine was the 2021 Chardonnay, which had wonderful fruit purity, deft use of oak, subtle roundness and delicate acidity – exceptional.
The final wine was the 2020 Pinot Noir which was an amalgam of red and dark fruit flavours, medium weight with integrated tannins to close. Again, a lovely wine which complemented the flavours and textures from the kitchen.
To finish, General Manager, Ange, generously offered us a tasting of their top chardonnay, 2019 Calcaire, named in reference to the high degree of calcium in the soils. Wow, what an impressive wine! Citrus, but more in the grapefruit spectrum, linear and focused. Overall, just beautiful.
I can’t wait to get back and explore further, next time in a smaller group, as the pristine environment creates the opportunity to grow truly outstanding wines and amaxing produce. When you are sweating it out on the Sunshine Coast, remember Tasmania is just a short trip away to cool down.
Cheers and Seasons Greetings to you and yours!