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What makes Tasmanian wines so unique?

Wed 12 June 2024

Hazards Mountain range behind Devil's Corner vines

Renowned for its pristine wilderness, rugged coastline, and unique flora and fauna, Tasmania is also home to a thriving wine industry famous for producing some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world.  

While Australia is celebrated for its diverse wine regions, there's something particularly special about the wines from Tasmania, especially those from its picturesque east coast. Here, rich fertile soils and a cool maritime climate create ideal conditions for growing grapes. Some vines clutch at rocky hillsides buffeted by roaring winds. Others traverse through the island’s many valleys, before rolling down to a river’s edge. All have one thing in common: despite being a land of many contrasts these are the toughest of vines, carefully nurtured to produce award-winning wines with an undeniable sense of place. 

Winemaking in Tasmania differs significantly from the mainland.

The island’s cool climate and maritime influence mean that Tasmanian winemakers must adopt different practices to achieve the best results. Unlike the hotter, more arid regions of mainland Australia, Tasmania’s climate allows for a longer growing season. This extended ripening period lets the grapes develop more nuanced flavours and maintain a higher natural acidity, which is crucial for creating balanced and vibrant wines. 

Enter, the East Coast.

East coast vineyards benefit from diverse soil types, such as sandy loams and volcanic soils, which help grapes develop intense flavours and aromas. This complexity reflects the unique environment where they are grown.

Located on Tasmania’s east coast, the Devil’s Corner Hazards Vineyard is the island’s largest, spanning over 190 hectares with panoramic views of the Moulting Lagoon. Named after the perilous mountain peak of the same name, the Hazards Vineyard produces some of Australia’s most awarded Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Under the expert management of Viticulturist Brett McClen, the vineyard proudly focuses on soil health and water conservation.

Often referred to as the "heartbreak grape" due to its challenging nature, Pinot Noir thrives on Tasmania's east coast. The combination of a cool maritime climate, diverse soil types, and proximity to the ocean all contribute to the distinctive characteristics of these wines: red fruit flavours, earthy undertones, and silky tannins. These wines are elegant, nuanced, and have a freshness and purity that’s hard to match. 

Unlike mainland wine regions, Tasmania's cool climate is due to its latitude rather than altitude. Despite being surrounded by three oceans and the Bass Strait, the climate remains variable, with winemakers often contending with bone-tingling frosts in winter and maddening wildfires in summer. However, these challenging conditions contribute to the unique character of Tasmanian wines. It’s this struggle – or “dance with nature” as Winemaker Tom Wallace calls it – that produces grapes with intense, concentrated flavours and a distinct sense of place.

This resilience and dedication to quality set Tasmanian wines apart, making them some of the most sought-after in the world.

Consider Tasmanian Chardonnay. Despite the island’s variable climate, Chardonnay vines flourish in these cool conditions, yielding grapes with outstanding flavour and complexity. The high natural acidity and diverse soils give Tasmanian Chardonnay a refreshing crispness and unique minerality, resulting in wines that are elegant, balanced, and age-worthy.

Tasmania is more than just an exceptional wine region; it’s a connection between the land, the sea, and the people who call it home, and tasting your way through the fruits of Tasmania’s east coast is a journey of discovery. Here, you can experience the perfect harmony between nature and winemaking – from bright, zesty Chardonnay with notes of citrus and stone fruit to rich, earthy Pinot Noir with layers of red berries and spice. Each bottle tells the story of its origin, and every sip is a reward for those who venture so far south.

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