There are more than 25 cellar doors around the Tamar Valley from Relbia, south of Launceston to Pipers River in the north east. So there are plenty of wines to taste. Here’s a guide to the key varieties to expect when you’re touring the valley and some cellar door tips:
If you’re a fan of Sparkling wine, you’ll be in heaven. Tasmania’s cool climate creates excellent conditions for producing delicious Sparkling wines. Wine writers like James Halliday and Tyson Steltzer say the wines produced here rival those produced in the Champagne region of France- the historical and spiritual home of sparkling wine.
Tasting in the Tamar Valley is a great opportunity to try a range of sparkling wine styles from lean & crisp Chardonnay led wines to rich and rounder styles made from Pinot Noir.
Riesling and Pinot Gris
While you will find plenty of good quality Sauvignon Blanc in the valley, Pinot Gris has emerged as a popular alternative. Tasmania’s climate enables this variety shine- we can let the fruit ripen fully to producer great flavour but still retain some acidity so the wines have a luscious & satisfying mouthfeel.
While many wine drinkers might have bad memories of Riesling being unpleasantly sweet, visitors to the Tamar often comment that they are surprised by the Rieslings they find here. They are fresh and clean with depth of flavour and round acidity. A sophisticated alternative to Sauvignon Blanc and a great match with Tassie seafood.
There is undoubtedly plenty of cracking Chardonnay made in Australia and the Tamar is no exception. The best ones are lightly oaked and show great balance- oak, fruit, acidity.
Just over 40% of Tasmania’s vineyard area is planted with Pinot Noir so you will find plenty of it on your Tamar travels. If you are usually a ‘big red’ drinker, some palate re-calibration may be necessary! Pinot Noirs are among the most expensive and highly regarded wines in the world. Tasmania is building a reputation for creating some very good examples of Pinot Noir- and they won’t cost the earth. Pinot Noir is the carbon fibre of wine- both light and strong at once.
Yes, Pinot Noir is king in Tasmania. But warmer vineyard sites, particularly on the western side of the Tamar River, can make very decent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz- albeit it in very tiny quantities.
Tasmania makes delicious sweet wines, usually from Riesling which can vary from off dry to super sweet. These wines aren’t merely sugar bombs, they show fruit character with a tension between sweetness and acidity. Also look out for Gewurztraminer which can have a tickle of sweetness.