Very excited to be able to try these two new wines. They are a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay from Tasmania’s Tolpuddle vineyard, and represent the first vintage to be released under the new owners, Shaw & Smith.
In 2011 Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith bought the 20 hectare vineyard, which had been planted in 1988, after prospecting the whole of Tasmania. It’s in the Coal River Valley, and the soils are light silica over sandstone. The climate seems spot on, with just 500 mm annual rainfall and relatively cool temperatures. It was originally planted by Tony Jordan and Gary Crittenden.
The ‘Tolpuddle’ name comes from the Tolpuddle Martyrs. These were a group of farmworkers who formed a union in 1834 in the Dorset village of Tolpuddle. The ringleaders were sentenced to 7 years’ transportation, and ended up in Australia. One of them apparently worked on a farm that included part of this vineyard.
Both wines are superb expressions of cool-climate winemaking, emphasising precise, bright fruit flavours. Are they profound fine wines? I guess time will tell: age will reveal whether there’s more to them than the somewhat primary fruit characters they are currently showing. I think there could well be. They aren’t cheap, though, at around £50 a bottle.
Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 Tasmania, Australia
13% alcohol. Very bright and fresh, this is a lean, lemony, mineral style of Chardonnay with keen acidity and some subtle toasty notes. Remarkable analysis figures of pH 3.1 and TA of 8.1 show just how lean and bracing this wine is. There’s a little bit of matchstick minerality here. Tight, fresh and precise with some waxy, pithy complexity. Quite Chablis-like. 94/100
Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Tasmania, Australia
13% alcohol. Beautifully aromatic with fine, sweet red cherries. Floral with some green herby notes in the background, as well as a touch of ginger. On the palate it is really fresh and bright with red cherries, some silkiness and also a bit of grip. Primary and fresh, this is really distinctive. It’s almost Barolo-like. Beautiful. 93/100
UK agent Liberty Wines