Latitudes: Tasmania, Australia
This cool-climate wine region produces world-class pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay and sparkling wine
As the Australian wine industry has turned its focus to "regional heroes," Tasmanian winemakers have quietly carved out their own little niche, and it keeps growing.
Emphasis on world-class pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay and sparkling wine has elevated mainlanders’ opinions on Tassie wine from afterthought to cream of the cool-climate crop.
Coal River Valley Wine Region
Located at nearly the same latitude as Christchurch, New Zealand, Hobart (Tasmania’s capital) is a short distance from the Coal River Valley region, one of the island’s two big wine-producing spots.
This southerly latitude, combined with the influence of the Indian and Pacific oceans (as well as Antarctic breezes) keeps the region’s temperatures relatively cool, but stable.
Tamar Valley Wine Region
Tassie’s other primary grape-growing region is the Tamar Valley, located on the northern end of the island around the town of Launceston. The state’s oldest wine region, it’s also home to the most wineries (although only about two dozen). Brown and red soils dominate the landscape in both valleys, although they vary slightly, depending on the vineyard in question.
Tasmania’s landscape is mountainous only in the relative scheme of things — compared to its Kiwi latitudinal counterparts, Tassie’s ranges are much smaller.
Rainfall varies greatly, depending on where you are on the island — not surprisingly, Tassie’s most prolific wine-producing areas are also the driest. Hobart sees an average annual rainfall of just over 600 mm, while some areas of the island receive nearly four times that much precipitation.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
Pinot noir accounts for most of Tasmania’s wine grape plantings — about 42 percent of the total area planted — with chardonnay a distant second.
The pinot is elegant and racy, while the chardonnay is subtle, yet complex. In fact, 86 percent of the Penfolds 2008 Yattarna Chardonnay — considered the “white Grange” of Australian wine — is made from Tassie chardonnay grapes.
While sauvignon blanc accounts for the island’s third-highest number of plantings, riesling is moving producers to make crisp, compelling, dry whites.
Tasmania Facts and Figures
Latitude of Tasmania
42° 53' South
Size of Vineyards in Tasmania
1,550 hectares of vineyards
Wine Styles in Tasmania
Pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay
Climate in Tasmania
Top Wine Producers in Tasmania
Frogmore Creek/Meadowbank, Stefano Lubiana, Jansz Tasmania; all have selections in Ontario.
Tasmania's Top Vintages
2006, 2008, 2010
Wine Production in Tasmania
17,000 tonnes of grapes produced in 2010
How to Get to Tasmiania
Air Canada flies direct from Toronto (YYZ) or Vancouver (YVR) to Sydney (SYD). Flights depart Sydney to Hobart daily (direct flying time is around two hours), or seafaring types can board the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne and sail nine to 11 hours to Devonport.