Wine review — Tamar Ridge & Pipers Brook

With Tassie shaping up to be the pinot noir capital of Australia, both as sparkling wine star and as the southern hemisphere’s Burgundy, what better place to start than with two delicious red versions from the two producers set to take the style to larger audiences than have ever seen it before.Tamar Ridge Tasmania Pinot Noir 1999, about $20
Although Tamar Ridge was founded by Joseph Chromy just two years ago, he brought to it 22 hectares of established vineyard on the west Tamar, his own wealth of experience as former owner of Heemskerk and Rochecombe – and the formidable talents of veteran Tasmanian winemaker, Julian Alcorso. Under the attractive Barbara-Harkness-designed package lies a mid-weight, delightfully pinot-scented red with a tasty but fine-boned palate. It captures the elusive and elegant character of pinot with touches of the variety’s gamey character, albeit in a lighter vein. This is a great start to the line, but after tasting several barrel samples of the 2000 vintage with Julian Alcorso this week, there is even better to come. I see this as a seminal wine – one to bring high-quality, complex pinot noir to the market at a comparatively modest price. If you can’t find it in Canberra, call the winery on 03 6334 6208..

Ninth Island Tasmania Pinot Noir 2000, about $22
The recent expansion of publicly listed Pipers Brook, through acquisition and planting, to 224 hectares, makes it the Tassie giant. The expansion will see the company’s second label, Ninth Island, grow considerably in both volume and quality, thanks to Dr Andrew Pirie’s clear vision. Using fruit from the slightly warmer West Tamar region (about thirty kilometres west of Pipers Brook), Andrew’s winemaker Andre Bezemer fashioned in vintage 2000 a wine of exceptionally good aroma and fruit sweetness. It’s easy to drink, but has convincing fine tannins and should develop gamey pinot character if aged for just a year or two. Although a comparative newcomer to the scene, a wine of this character and sophistication could not have been created without Dr Pirie’s quarter century of winemaking and viticultural experience in the Pipers Brook/Tamar regions.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2001 & 2007