Vin Diemen “Best of Tassie”
National Art School, Cell Block Theatre
August 12, 2017
I sure hope that my recent features on Tasmania and MONA have tickled your interest in one of Australia’s most underrated territories, its wine, outstanding produce and boutique beverages.
If you have not yet planned your trip to Launceston for the 2018 incarnation of MONA FOMA, let me bring a little taste of Tasmania to you.
Now in its third year, the two-day series “Best of Tassie” in Sydney and Melbourne showcased the unparalleled quality of Tasmania’s food and wine industry with an extended line-up of the island’s leading vintners and providores.
Tasmania’s naturally elegant wines are made from grapes grown in climates similar to those of the famous European wines - with mild summers and long autumn days that ripen the grapes providing elegance and intensity of flavour. This unique island state now produces elegant cool climate wines such as Pinot Noir, sparkling wines, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Gris.
Tasmania enjoys a national and international reputation as a leading producer of some of Australia’s premium wines, with its Pinot Noir and sparkling wines in particular winning high praise and plenty of trophies from wine judges and critics alike.
Tasmania’s first experiment with grapevines resulted in a wine that was shown at a Paris exhibition in 1848.
However, after this early start, the island’s wine production all but disappeared until the 1950s.
The early migrants from Europe recognised the similarities in Tasmania of the soils and climate with the great grape growing regions of their homelands, and began to challenge and disprove the theory that Tasmania was too far south for grapes to ripen.
Today, Tasmania enjoys a global reputation as a leading producer of premium cool climate wines, winning high praise and accolades from wine judges and critics alike – and rightly so.
The Tasmanian landscape is dominated by dolerite-capped mountains that shelter the state’s wine regions from high winds and rainfall. On the lower slopes, the vineyard soils are formed from ancient sandstones and mudstones and also from more recent river sediments and igneous rocks of volcanic origin.
Tasmania has a moderate maritime climate, cooled by prevailing westerly winds off the Southern Ocean, providing conditions free of extremes in temperature. Mild spring and summer temperatures, with warm autumn days and cool nights allow the grapes to ripen slowly on the vine, resulting in maximum varietal flavour development. This is achieved without losing that essential natural acidity that gives wine both freshness and balance.
The Tasmanian vintage usually begins from mid-March, at the peak of the dry autumn when ripening occurs, to late May before the risk of frost and rain.
Vintage variations are greater in Tasmania than any other Australian region. This vintage variation is reflected in each unique wine and makes for an insightful tasting of multiple vintages from the same producer.
Vin Diemen’s 2017’s “Best of Tassie” extravaganza incarnated at the Cell Block Theatre of the National Art School in the heart of Sydney’s Darlinghurst district – an ideal location for the collective of winery representatives, farmers and makers, as it offered the perfects backdrop of festival-goers grazing on distinctly Tasmanian cheeses from Bruny Island Cheese Co.
Bruny Island Cheese Co. is an artisan cheese maker in southern Tasmania, founded by Nick Haddow and their cheeses are all made and matured using traditional techniques and are some of the finest artisan cheeses made in Australia.
The cheeses Bruny Island Cheese Co. makes are very much the product of Nick and head cheesemakers Halsey's travels and training throughout the great cheese producing regions of France, Italy, Spain and the UK.
While inspired by the artisan cheeses from their travels, they do not seek to copy them.
Instead, they make cheeses that are connected to their environment -cheeses with a distinctly Tasmanian character, which served as the foundation of this year’s master classes that offered deeper insights into Bruny Island Cheese Co.’s philosophy and its approach to cheese making, specifically with it comes to working with raw mild, along with recommendations of wine pairings.
More exotic flavours and spices were offered by Shima Wasabi
Specializing in one of the trickiest crops around, the semi-aquatic herb is grown in climate-controlled "cool houses".
Shima Wasabi has researched and perfected the art of growing authentic Japanese wasabi (Wasabia japonica) in Australia and are now the largest producer of fresh wasabi in the Southern Hemisphere. Devoid of colours and preservatives that most horseradish based “wasabi” pastes and powders contain to imitate the real deal, Shima Wasabi offered freshly squeezed wasabi, which was the ideal accompaniment to Huon Aquaculture’s delicious offerings of Tasmanian salmon.
Check out our recent feature “Always Going Upstream Against the Current,” which sheds light on Huon and its delicious ray-finned emissions.
Over hundred wines were on offer for sampling and our favourites included the following drops in the categories:
Pinot Gris / Grigio
Cabernet & Blends
Non-wine drinks were proffered courtesy of:
Hartshorn Distillery, a new micro distillery making boutique batches of Vodka and Gin from their own sheep whey.
The Tamar Valley-based producer of international award winning spirits, Strait Brands, with its interesting Tasmanian Pepperberry Vodka.
The Abel Gin Co. with its excellent take on traditional gin, turning it on its head with a blast of citrus over base notes of the Tasmanian wilderness, and Willie Smith’s Organic apple cider, whose range we have recently covered in a feature and who had a bottle of their fine Willie Smith’s Whisky Aged Cider on offer:
Following maturation times ranging from six to twelve months, individual barrels were selected and blended to achieve a complex, balanced cider that expresses both soft apple cider characteristics and persistent whisky and oak notes. Soft carbonation and no filtration results in a structured cider with textured mouthfeel and lingering warmth.
Another excellent collaboration with Tasmania’s Lark Distillery, which shall be the focus of an upcoming feature.
Photos by KAVV
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