I recently spent several days on the island of Tasmania; a beautiful place that is good for the soul, palate and intellect. There is no questioning the quality of their wines, local produce and the ability of the locals to make the best use of both. There are fabulous whiskeys, amazing beers and delicious ciders being produced and they enhance wine, not detract from it.
Tasmania is not the only Australian wine region that has plenty to offer the epicurean, but it has more to offer than most.
In the UK, US and Canada, Australian wine has become commonplace; its cloth cap and hobnailed boots, the McDonald's of wine, the drink of the plebeian not the patrician.
And here is the crux: this current image of Australian wine does not suit Tasmanian wine, but Tasmanian wine is still Australian. Tasmanian wine is struggling to be seen as a peacock in a paddock turned into a dustbowl by a huge flock of brush turkeys.
How much do consumers like to pay for wine? A damn sight less than the average cost of a Tasmanian bottle.
Below is a table of red and white bottled wine sales in Australia on a moving annual total (MAT) to August 2013 in millions of litres:
The average retail price of a bottle of table wine in the Woolworths group is $10.24, and the average price of a bottle of Tasmanian wine in the same group $20.91. Units of Tasmanian wine only account 0.9% of Woolworths stocks, but in value they represents 1.9%. Dan Murphy's stocks 55 Tasmanian wines from 19 producers, so there is space for more, but not a lot of space. Not so much space that Tasmania can increase production rapidly, thinking it can take the world by storm.
So what is the lesson from this? The Tasmanian wine industry should grow slowly - always remaining just short of market requirements. If the customer is kept a little short on product then the producer gets to set the price; once there is surplus stock the producer is forced to take the price as set by the market.
With that in mind, here is a review of a Tasmanian Pinot Noir.
Delamere Vineyards Tasmania Pinot Noir 2012: We’ve all heard the story of good wine reflecting the patch of dirt the vines are grown on, or more broadly the region that the grapes originated from. This wine is a blend of vineyards, so should reflect Tasmania, which it does, but that is not the point here. Wine is nearly always enjoyed more in its home surroundings, and on first taste this wine, tasted in my home in Byron Bay, didn’t come across too well.
However after being cooled in the fridge for a while, as Pinot Noir is a cool climate grape, it was more akin to drinking it in a cooler climate and greatly enjoyed. The nose transformed from broad and flat to defined pinot noir stinky. Delicate top notes travelled over a firm base of delightful flavour; good on the finish and enough on the return to add extra interest. 94 points and very reasonably priced at $27.