Cool climates mean grapes ripen slowly, which improves the flavours in wines made from those grapes. This is part of the reason cool climate regions are attracting so much attention.
Tasmania, the island state off Australia’s southern coast, is the coolest region. It makes only 1 per cent of Australia’s wine, but produces 7 per cent of the ultra-premium market.
Wine has been grown on Tasmania since 1848. But production effectively stopped until the 1950s, when people began to appreciate the similarities between Tasmania and regions on the same latitudes in Europe.
Tasmania has seven main regions, three above latitude 42 degrees south and four below. The three northern regions are identified as North West, North East and the Tamar Valley.
Tamar and the North East produce 70 per cent of the island’s wines.
Best known of the Tamar vineyards are Pirie, Elmslie and Josef Chromy. The last has made a sensational entry with more than 12 trophies and 130 medals in its three-year history. I especially enjoyed their 2007 chardonnay, which was like tasting a vinous version of lemon sherbet.
This week we will concentrate on Jansz from the North East region, world famous for their sparkling wines using an approach called “methode Tasmanoise”. The French champagne house Louis Roederer of Reims has been involved with Jansz since 1986, and the quality shows.
The 2005 cuvee made by Natalie Fryar is an exceptional wine, a blend of 51 per cent Chardonnay and 49 per cent pinot noir. It spent five years on yeast lees after the secondary fermentation. This gives an aroma of freshly baked bread. The wine explodes in your mouth in the best possible sense with flavours of honeysuckle and rose. And those flavours linger.
The 2006 rose, also by Natalie Fryar, is 100 per cent pinot noir. It is pale pink and tastes like tangy Turkish delight. The high natural acidity would make both wines perfect for a range of Chinese food. The natural acidity gives the wine great structure and wonderful length, so it would keep for decades. But that requires great willpower because the wine is so delicious.
Fryar became the winemaker at Jansz in January 2001, having made sparkles for Seppelt’s Great Western winery in Victoria. She said her passion was “turning great fruit into exceptional wine”.
Jansz does not appear to export to China but wines can be purchased from the company’s web site.
* “Cool wines that come from colder climates” in China Daily 11 September 2010, page 12.