Tasmanian Pinot Noir: Terroir, Climate, Tannins and Clones
Fri 10 Nov 2023
In the world of wine, few varieties command the same level of reverence and intrigue as Pinot Noir.
Often referred to as the "heartbreak grape," Pinot Noir is a varietal with a storied history and an undeniable allure. Originating in Burgundy, France, it has traversed continents, finding a second home in the cool climates of Tasmania. Its thin skin and susceptibility to nuances in terroir make it a demanding grape, requiring a delicate touch and a keen understanding of the land it calls home.
Enter Tasmania, and its patchwork of pristine landscapes.
Blessed with cool temperatures and abundant rainfall, Tasmania's winemakers understand patience, nurturing precious fruit through a prolonged growing season. This unhurried journey results in a wine of unparalleled balance, intensity, and finesse.
Tasmania's terroir, a mosaic of rolling hills, rocky soils, and maritime influences, is the soul of its Pinot Noir.
The island's cool climate, influenced by the Southern Ocean, provides the perfect backdrop for the slow ripening of these grapes, bestowing a delicate touch that transforms Pinot Noir into the liquid poetry that's so loved.
Here, in the embrace of misty mornings and sun-drenched afternoons, Pinot Noir vines thrive, absorbing the essence of the ancient soils and expressing it in every grape.
“Our wines are very much a reflection of the vineyard and what that produces for us, which is really intense, fruity flavours,” says Tamar Ridge Senior Winemaker, Tom Wallace.
The Tamar Valley, Derwent Valley, and Coal River Valley are just a few regions within Tasmania that showcase the diversity of terroir. Each sub-region adds its brushstroke to the canvas, resulting in Pinot Noir wines that express a sense of place, telling a story of the land from which they originate.
“Our site at the Kayena Vineyard in the Tamar Valley is within sight of the Bass Strait and is adjacent to the Tamar River. It has many different aspects and soil profiles that give the wines our own unique flavour profiles."
The maritime climate of Tasmania plays a pivotal role in shaping the character of its wines; Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates, and Tasmania's conditions are nothing short of symphonic for this finicky grape.
The island's vineyards benefit from the moderating influence of the Southern Ocean, which bestows upon the grapes a slow and steady ripening process. This extended ripening period allows for the development of complex flavours, while the cool temperatures maintain the grape's natural acidity.
The diurnal temperature variations – warm, sunny days followed by cool nights – contribute to the retention of freshness and acidity in the grapes. This climatic dance results in Pinot Noir that are vibrant, aromatic, and exceptionally well-balanced.
When it comes to Pinot Noir, the conversation inevitably turns to tannins – those silky, velvety textures that contribute to a wine's structure. With its gentle tannins, Tassie Pinot creates a symphony of smoothness on the palate, an inherent quality that makes our wines not only delightful in their youth, but full of age-worthy promise.
"We’re on a constant journey to get that freshness and brightness and create wines that are great to drink but will age and give you years of love.”
Cellaring Pinot Noir unveils hidden layers of complexity. The evolving notes of red berries, hints of earth, and the integration of tannins create a wine that matures gracefully, offering a richer and more nuanced experience with each passing year.
The world of Pinot Noir is a world of clones, each one imparting unique characteristics, flavours, and aromas. Tasmania's winemakers embrace this diversity, planting a range of Pinot Noir clones to enhance complexity and resilience in the vineyard.
Located at an altitude of 10-30m, our Kayena Vineyard is home to a variety of Pinot clones; among them, clones 15, D4V2, MV6, and 777. Tasmania's winemakers embrace this diversity and play with these clones like skilled musicians (or scientists), blending and crafting to achieve elegance and refinement with each vintage. As its name suggests, the Tamar Ridge Research Series Pinot Noir is the result of such playtime; giving our winemakers freedom to trial different clones and experimental techniques in the vineyard and winery.
“We’re always pushing the boundaries, trying to create new ways of making our wines,” says Tom.
"Each year we challenge ourselves to create wines that are elegant yet unpretentious – superbly put together with soft, silky tannins and wicked cellaring potential. These wines express a remarkable consistency in their ability to showcase nuances in terroir and winemaking experimentation."
In the hands of a winemaker, the marriage of terroir, climate, and clones is a meticulous art.
Emboldened by our passion for Pinot Noir and pride in our island home, Tamar Ridge has become synonymous with award-winning wines and premium craftsmanship, nurturing our region's climatic nuances and carefully selected Pinot Noir clones to craft wines that are a true expression of Tasmania's winemaking prowess.