Wine review — Observatory Hill, Perrier Jouet and Thorn Clarke

Observatory Hill Tasmania Pinot Noir 2008 $29
We discovered this gem at the excellent Piccalilly Restaurant, Battery Point, Hobart, late last year. It’s a fine, elegant style of some depth and complexity, sourced from Glenn Richardson’s Observatory Hill vineyard at Mount Rumney – just 10 kilometres from Hobart at the entrance to the Coal River Valley. Glenn harvests the grapes then hands them over to French winemaker Alain Rousseau at Frogmore Creek Winery, just up the road in the Coal River Valley. The wine is available direct from Observatory Hill, phone 03 6248 5380 or email

Perrier Jouet Blason de France Rose Champagne NV $105
It’s as delicate and sweet as a first kiss and bound to impress (and work) as a Valentine’s treat. This is no wussy, watery rose, but a blend of high quality chardonnay (45 per cent), pinot noir (45 per cent) and pinot meuniere — the three classic Champagne varieties, sourced from some of the region’s great vineyards. It’s made as a white wine and derives its delicate pink colour through the addition of red wine (made from pinot) as part of the liqueur d’ expedition added after removal of the yeast sediment from the bottle. It’s subtle, superb and best served at around 10 degrees.

Thorn Clarke

  • Shotfire Barossa Valley Quartage 2008 $23
  • Shotfire Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
  • Sandpiper Barossa Shiraz 2008 $17
  • Sandpiper Eden Valley Riesling 2009 $17

The Clarke family owns about 270 hectares of vines spread around the Barossa – a remarkable estate that grew from Cheryl Clarke’s (nee Thorn) very old family holdings. The wines offer plenty of flavour for their modest asking prices. At a recent tasting top votes were divided over the two Shotfire wines – the fine but firm berry flavours of Quartage (a blend of cabernet, petit verdot, merlot and malbec); and the earthy, round, juicy softness of the shiraz. The cheaper Sandpiper Shiraz 2008 is a bigger, firmer drop – less polished, but still a mouthful of flavour. And the riesling is on the austere, aperitif style, typical of the Eden Valley.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010