A 99% Chance Of Wine In Tasmania's Coal River Valley

14 February 2015

Fact: The vineyards near Hobart are closer to the city than any other Australian capital.

That's good news for anyone flying into Hobart Airport. There's no need to choose between wine country and city life; you'll have the best of both worlds in the one trip.

Derwent Valley, the Huon/Channel and Coal River Valley are all found within a convenient radius of the capital.

Just 15 minutes from town and the airport, darting in and out of wineries along the Coal River Valley Wine Route makes for a great finale to your Tassie escape before you fly back to reality. Or in my case, the visit was the perfect precursor to a long weekend exploring the city. For the third time.

 Coal River Valley welcoming committee

Hobart and surrounds pulled out all the stops that wintery weekend. Gone was the drizzle that had plagued the city the days prior; the forecast was nothing but blue skies and a 99% chance of wine.

The vino gods were welcoming me with open arms.

Tassie wine makes up a droplet of Australia's total. Its annual output – 6500 tonnes of cool-climate wines across 230 vineyards – accounts for a mere half a per cent of Australian production.

It's quality over quantity and Tassie's claim to fame? Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But that's not to say you won't find aromatic Riesling, the intriguing Gewürztraminer, fantastic bubbles and Sauvignon Blanc that rivals Marlborough's offerings around these parts.

Tassie vino may be starting to infiltrate wine lists on mainland menus, but what could be better than sampling it at the source?

 

First stop: Frogmore Creek Cellar Door.

A slate-blue barn opens up to a rustic space surrounded by grapevines and the valley. We sidled up to the bar and ordered a tasting. It's a bargain at $5. You can pick and choose as you go along, and the fee is redeemable on any purchases or free if you happen to dine there too. We did both, of course.

 Some of Frogmore Creek's best share plates

To bide your time as you wait for your meals at the bar, head upstairs to the Flawed History gallery space. There's no stuffy or boring wine facts here; just a colourful depiction of curious characters and scenes by local artist Tom Samek in the form of a mural on the hardwood floor.

Upstairs is also where you can put your senses to the test. Think you've got a pretty good nose for sniffing out wine notes? Put your money where your mouth is (or is that nose?) and challenge your travelling partner to a guessing game of secret scents from flavoured vials.

After we were thoroughly watered, wined and fed, it was back in the car to Puddleduck Vineyard.

Puddleduck is a family owned and operated vineyard where you can guarantee the person pouring your wine had a hand in making and bottling it, too. Don't worry about trying to hold yourself upright at the bar – head outside to a picnic table and have your tasting conducted lakeside.

 Puddling ducks at Puddleduck

With a piercing backdrop of immaculate rows of grapevines, a glassy lake with fine ripples created by puddling ducks, a flight of Puddleduck's most famous drops and a local cheese platter, you're set for an afternoon of delicious bliss.

Mersey Valley cheddar, soft, oozy brie and marinated labne make a fine accompaniment to Puddleduck's liquid gold, with top marks awarded to the beautifully perfumed Riesling and salmon-hued sparkling wine, Bubbleduck.

It was hard to pull ourselves away from our lakeside perch, but the wines weren't going to taste themselves. We had time for one more stop and made a beeline for Pooley Wines in Richmond.

The cellar door hides within a stunning Georgian, Heritage-listed stone mansion known as Belmont Lodge. The Pooley family have been crafting their award-winning Pinots and Rieslings for three generations.

 One of the vineyards at Pooley Wines

We were in the midst of purchasing their incredible Pinot Noir and Late Harvest Riesling (the sticky stuff) as one Mr Pooley popped in to load up his bags with a few bottles for that evening's supper.

While on this occasion, I only had time for three Coal River Valley wineries, there are over 22 to choose from.

Three down, 19 to go.  Might be time to book that next trip...

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.