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by Fred McMillin
for June 28, 2000

 

Hopeless in Tasmania


Prologue

It has been wideby assumed that Tasmania's cool, wet climate would prevent viticulture.

...Thomas Hardy's Australian Wine Atlas

1889—In an unsuccessful effort to lure people to invest in Tasmanian winegrowing, Diego Bernacchi is said to have tied artificial grapes onto his vines.

...Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine

Tasmania, not far off the southeast coast of the continent, is Australia's smallest state in terms of population, surface area and viticulture.

...Slow Food Guide to Wine


The Rest of the Story

Not promising. Yet, it's been discovered that if you don't harvest until April or May, the early ripeners like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will grow successfully. of course, those varieties are the backbone of French Champagne, so what's going on recently in Tasmania?

Chris Markell

Clover Hill Chief Executive
Chris Markell

 
Clover Hill In Tasmania

Clover Hill In Tasmania


Getting Fizzical

Suddenly the critics and vintners are saying the island's best wines are likely to be bubbly. The first winery to make an all-Tasmanian sparkler is Clover Hill, run by a Californian. He's Chris Markell (photo), U. Of Cal.-Davis viticulture grad, whose 25 years of winegrowing include plenty of time making fizz in France, California, and now...at Clover Hill in Tasmania. The world's foremost sparkler authority, Tom Stevenson, sees a very exciting future for the winery's bubblies, so the current release is our...


Wine of the Day

1996 Clover Hill Sparkling Wine
Tasmania, Australia
Varieties - The classic Champagne's Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
Br-r-r: To make maximum use of available warmth, trellises run north-south; vines are in a natural volcanic, frost-free amphitheater; Ironstone rocks (the farmers hate 'em) are coveted to warm in the sun and act as heat reservoirs at night.
Winemaking—Chris recently increased their capacity to add oak-aged reserve wines...with their pleasing, complex flavors.
Rating—My eight tasters and I agreed on a very solid RECOMMENDED. The bubble release was exceptional. Sparkler fans will want to follow the development of Clover Hill. It's a comer!
Contact—If you're having trouble getting through to Chris in Australia at (61 3)54672218, try Elizabeth Skemp in California at (707)259-2231, FX (707)252-6125.
Price—$29 range


Postscript—A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Tasmania

We were in Sydney, Australia and I had completed arrangements for my wife's cooking lessons and my wine tours in Tasmania. But first, we had a date with Dr. Max Lake. This was some years ago, and he took us to his winery, Lake's Folly, and showed us what was going on. He was trying several radical things. Instead of the usual Australian Shiraz, he was trying another red-wine grape...Cabernet Sauvignon. Not only that, he was experimenting with another off-beat approach...oak aging. It all proved so exciting we never did get to Tasmania. (I'd forgotten but my wife reminds me that he also lured us with some sensational cooking of his own, including a Broccoli-Hollandaise combo that she learned for her cooking classes. Delicious.)

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created June 2000

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