Tasmania – blending traditional strengths with fine wine and good food

Discover how well a local reserve pinot noir complements the wild views

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Josef Chromy vineyard, northern Tasmania

Josef Chromy vineyard, northern Tasmania

Josef Chromy Tasmania
Estelle Restaurant, Rosevears Vineyard, Tamar Valley, Tasmania
Woolmers Estate, Longford
Rosevears Estate Winery, Tasmania

 

Tasmania. It is home to a wild circus of Tasmanian devil, quolls, wombats and platypus, and a World Heritage Area that claims a whopping 20 per cent chunk of the island.

The island’s convict history, as rare as it is richly compelling, has its own World Heritage stamp and the convict-built Georgian buildings define Tassie as much as the wildlife and forests.

Yet, of late, Tasmania has been blending its traditional strengths with fine wine and good food. Visitors to the island might be surprised how well a local reserve pinot noir can complement watching the wildlife, hearing convict whispers, or a meal at restaurant where local produce stars more than the chef.

The Tamar Valley runs north and south of Launceston, the oldest city in Australia after Sydney and Hobart. Almost 50 per cent of the island’s wine comes from this area, a valley that nurtures cool climate varieties of grapes including chardonnay, pinot noir, and riesling.

Vineyards on the Tamar Valley Wine Route including Moores Hill, Goaty Hill and Tamar Ridge produce some of the island’s finest wines. The pinot noir from Moores Hill is consistently regarded as one of Tasmania’s finest and Tamar Ridge’s sauvignon blanc has been named the best of its type in the world by the UK’s Decanter magazine.

And as for sparkling varietals, according to the renowned Dr Andrew Pirie, formerly chief executive and chief winemaker of Tamar Ridge Estates, Tassie has a great range of sparkling wines as well as the most expensive sparkling in Australia (The 1998 Hardy’s Arras sparkling wine sells for around $180). “I think the [Australian] crown for sparkling firmly rests on Tasmania’s head,” he says.

Now for the bad news. Not much of Tassie’s acclaimed sparkling wines, rieslings and pinots make it to mainland Australia let alone the UK. Which means a trip to Tasmania might well be inevitable for cool-climate wine devotees.

But it is not just wine that is the lure. Cool climate vinos are at their best when in concert with food and Launceston and parts nearby have a thriving eating scene. French-style patisseries, long standing fine dining institutions, and smart cafes are as much a part of the city as the Victorian architecture and lustrous Cataract Gorge.

Interestingly many of the restaurateurs and chefs of Launceston and parts nearby make little effort to hide the fact that they are in bed with the vignerons, fisher folk, bakers and farmers. Memorable experiences at restaurants including the Stillwater River Café and Novaro’s are due in part to the first-rate local produce.

Drive west from Launceston toward Westbury, Deloraine and beyond and farm gates abound. From intriguing black truffles, rare leatherwood honey (leatherwood trees are found only in Tasmania), smoked salmon and cheeses, Tamar and surrounds can be food lovers’ nirvana.

Those who’ll happily drive to a good food place as much as a lauded cellar door might also be interested to know that the east coast of Tasmania is barely two hour’s drive from Launceston. And on the east coast is another collection of fine Tasmanian wineries. Spring Vale Wines and the acclaimed Freycinet Vineyard are just two. Any drops from these eastern stars will perfectly complement the notes delivered by a coastline as every bit as extraordinary as the island’s cool-climate wine scene.

 

Article by Tourism Tasmania.

 

Regions

  • Tamar Valley (TAS)

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