It’s been far too long between drinks. Literally!
Anything involving the consumption of wine is always a much anticipated event, but when it came to the 2016 Tasmanian Red Wine Weekend we were a little gun-shy considering that our last experience at the White Wine Weekend back in 2013 was marred by a combination of lukewarm wines and an unruly mob!
Since then we’ve seen a change in venue from the IXL Atrium across to the more spacious Princes Wharf, and what seems to be an expansion in the number of participating wineries; both very welcome tweaks to a format that is now into what we think must be its 8th year?
Entry was $25 for those that took the time to plan ahead. We didn’t, and forked out an additional $5 for the privilege of tickets at the door.
It’s a simple concept, but a lot of fun!
Our ticket got us entry to the event (we went on the Sunday, but Saturday was also an option), a Plumm wine glass and access to more than 50 Tasmanian red wines, all of which could be tasted or bought by the glass if one particularly took your fancy.
There were also a number of masterclasses on offer for an additional fee of between $26-28, with subjects such as ‘Top Pinots’, ‘Super Shiraz’ and ‘Cool Cabernet’, providing participants with an in depth, guided exploration of a selection of premium Tasmanian wines.
Within seconds of entering the venue we had been greeted and provided with an explanation of how the tastings were structured (a great start to the day unlike some events where you can be left aimlessly circling!).
In a slightly different approach to our last experience where the wines had been grouped by winery, this time around they had been grouped by variety and age.
Better? Worse? Different.
On the up side it allowed you to consider and contrast the approaches of the various vignerons within a single grape-growing season, with wines of the same age and grown under similar climatic conditions tasted side by side.
On the downside, if you wanted to get a feel for the changes in a specific wine from a specific vineyard from season to season, you had to read ahead in the program, find the appropriate table for the older wine(s), and then jump backwards and forward between tables.
We did a little bit of both, all to the accompaniment of some great music courtesy of a duo playing double bass and guitar.
The range of wines was weighted very heavily towards pinot noir, with only 9 out of the 55 odd wines representing alternative red varietals. Not surprising considering pinots are the mainstay of the Tasmanian red wine industry, but it would have been nice to explore and experience something a little different.
Thankfully, the range of pinots was generally very good, with some absolute standouts.
We certainly aren’t wine connoisseurs but in our humble opinion the following are worthy of a mention:
- Chartley Estate, 2014 Pinot Noir ($26) – A small winery located in Rowella, on the western side of the Tamar Valley.
- Dalrymple, 2014 Pinot Noir ($36) – Another smallish winery located at Piper’s River in Tasmania’s North East.
- Dalrymple “Cottage Block”, 2013 Pinot Noir ($45) – Karen loved this one!
- Brook Eden “Nero”, 2013 Pinot Noir ($54) – This was one of my favourites. These guys are extremely small (<3Ha) and are located over at Piper’s Brook in the North East.
- Domaine Dawnelle (Tinderbox Vineyard), 2013 Pinot Noir ($56) – Perhaps not quite as good as the previous two, but excellent nonetheless. Their vineyards are located in both Granton and Tinderbox in southern Tasmania.
- Spring Vale “Family Selection”, 2013 Pinot Noir ($100) – Sounding more like a box of Arnott’s biscuits than a wine of high distinction, this was certainly the latter! Despite its high price tag, I did think it lacked a certain X-factor in comparison to the Brook Eden ‘Nero’. Spring Vale are one of Tasmania’s better known vineyards, located in the Freycinet wine region on the East Coast.
Keep in mind that unlike esteemed wine writer Winsor Dobbin who was buzzing around tasting/spitting everything in sight, it had to be a pretty average drop to get us to spit! For that reason we didn’t try every wine on the list, but must have worked our way through roughly 20-25. I look forward to seeing whether our list compares in any way whatsoever with Winsor’s favourites!
For those with a hankering for something more substantial, there were cheese platters and other delicacies on offer, and a coffee van for those in search of a caffeine fix. It was great foresight on behalf of the organisers to have thought to throw down a dozen or more beanbags near the musicians. What could be better than a glass of wine and great tunes in the company of even better friends?!
We had a great afternoon at the 2016 Red Wine Weekend, and look forward to giving its white wine sibling a second chance later this year!
If you love your wine, or simply any beverage containing alcohol, some of these other events we’ve reviewed previously may interest you:
- Freycinet Food and Wine Tour (aka ‘The Long Lunch’) – We actually saw tour leader Brad mingling with the crowd and enjoying a drop or two at the 2016 Red Wine Weekend!
- White Wine Weekend Whine – Our story of ups and downs from the white wine event back in 2013.
- Drink Tasmania Premium Tours – These guys offer some fantastic alcoholic tour options around Tasmania (previously known as ‘Tasmanian Whisky Tours’)!
- 2015 Southern Tasmania Cellar Door Open Day
- Festivale Wine Masterclass – What we consider to be the best food and wine festival in Tasmania!
- ‘Effervescence’ Sparkling Wine Festival – A celebration of all things bubbly, at one of Tasmania’s most picturesque wineries.