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Porthole Cruise Magazine - December 13, 2019

Grape Destinations: The Best of Tasmanian Wine Culture

What started as a novelty experience 10 years ago has morphed into an annual wine tasting event I cannot miss.  And nor should any serious wine lover. It involves a single wine variety that is renowned for its brooding and moody character called Pinot Noir. For me the event is quite literally a search for pinosity and balance in an ancient delicate grape. It is held on the last Saturday in July in Tasmania, Australia.  

Tasmanian Wine Culture

Tasmanian Wine

Tasmanian Wine Event | Photo: Robert Onfray

The attraction of the event is the direct access to the people who know their wine business in a friendly atmosphere – much like attending one of those bucolic family-run wine cellars where you meet the owner or the viticulturist or maybe the actual winemaker.  That person who juggles their time between the punters in the tasting room and actually managing their own vineyard. Some were pioneers of the modern Tasmanian wine industry such as Andrew Pirie and Fred Pearce. Others are highly regarded winemakers in their own right such as Claudio Radenti, Brian Franklin and the recently retired Dirk Meure.  You get a one-on-one sharing of their passion. Of being part of a noble enterprise.

RELATED: Grape Destinations: Scent, Memory and Great Wine

You can ask the most inane question but you are still taken seriously and you are made to feel part of the Tasmanian wine family. They share their satisfaction in growing the grapes, the stresses of monitoring the weather, that decision of when to pick, the excitement during the fermentation process, and the blending to make a wine that not only reflects the local terrior, but also actually it is an expression of them.  

Tasmanian Wine Culture

A Glass of Pinot Noir | Photo: Robert Onfray

Every year I learn something new.  The subtle differences between the sub regions across the State; the dissimilarity between a silky velvety classic pinot and a more ‘muscular’ wine; how important the subtle use of smooth tannins can influence the wine.  But most of all I enjoy seeing some great friends I only see at this event each year as we share our thoughts on which wine we think is the one to taste; catch up on all the gossip from the wineries about each other, and share a quick chat with the wonderful host Michele Round who is a remarkable and savvy business women.

If you like your Pinot Noir and you haven’t tried any from Tasmania, then you should introduce yourself to these wines.  What better way than to attend the annual Pinot Showcase where you will be guided to find a level of pinosity to suit your palette.

-Robert Onfray

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