BY DR MICHAEL RYAN
You can just about grow anything in Tasmania. It is a blessing that someone realised the Tasmanian potential to grow grapes and hence make wine. We are in debt to vinous pioneers like the Alcorso family for their heritage and vision.
We are also in debt to people having the romance and sense of place to acquire land for viticulture. The Coal Valley was first planted in 1973 at Stoney Vineyards near Richmond. In 1996, an Oriental purchase of next door Nocton Park resulted in 34 hectares of vine cuttings taken from the original Stoney Vineyard being planted in 1999.
The wines are made under contract by Alain Rousseau from Frogmore Creek Wines. He has a philosophy of fruit and terroir expression. This shows in the wines with the wine makers hand guiding the wine on its journey.
This cool dry maritime influenced climate is favourable to growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. The soils are dolerite free draining over Triassic sandstone. The soil structure is embossed on the stylish wine label, symbolising the textural nature of the wines it adorns. The vines are close planted to encourage competition to thrive.
Anthony Woollams is the new general manager. Arriving from Europe via South Africa in 1994 he has worked in Burgundy on his journey to Tasmania. He has been employed by Pipers Brook, Devils Corner, and Tamar Ridge. So his Tasmanian wine knowledge is expansive.
His vision is to grow the brand and improve the quality of the wines. There is the well-credentialed Estate range and the Willow Series reserve range. The latter being specific areas in the vineyard selected for their various characteristics that enhance the sum of the parts.
There will always be artistic differences between the grower and the wine maker with Anthony and Alain passionately discussing areas such as malolactic fermentation and oak influence for example. The outcome is worth the friction as the wines are stellar. The cellar door is open Wednesday- Saturday 10am-4pm so you can enjoy the wines and Anthony’s wine tales.
Nocton NV Sparkling- A light bright yellow with a medium bead. The nose is an aromatic seduction of mandarin and marmalade, with subtle but complex yeasty notes. Generous palate with a nice dry balanced finish. This would cellar and be an amazing sparkling in about 3 years. Enjoy with a plate of Tassie oysters.
Nocton Estate Chardonnay 2015 – Light yellow in colour. The wine exhibits creamy lemon notes, rock melon and pecan nut nuances. A hint of lees exposure exists. The palate is full with evidence of a softness from malolactic fermentation. The acidity is still evident with a crisp finish. Some Tasmanian white bait would be a treat.
Nocton Estate Pinot Noir 2015 – A dusky Cherry red colour. A complex bouquet of red berries with hints of strawberry jam, a layer of intricate spice, white pepper and herbal notes exists. Subtle oak nuances with faint mandarin peel add to the olfactory pleasure of this wine. The wine glides over the anterior palate slightly dipping then surges with a balanced supportive tannic structure. Will cellar for 3-7 years. Have with Sashimi Petuna Tasmanian Ocean trout.
Norton Estate Merlot 2015- A deep garnet colour. The nose is full of cool climate spicy bright red fruits. There is a seductive austerity to its fruit that combines with its tannic features that propel this wine into an elegant gustatory companion. The flavours leap frog each other and are punctuated by a balanced decrescendo of tannin. After three hours, the wines complex layers morphed into a seamless seductive wine that had the right bank of Bordeaux calling. Cellar 7-10 years. Enjoy with a Tasmanian venison pie.
Published: 14 Nov 2017