Tinderbox is a rather unique, 20+ year old, north facing vineyard south of Hobart. Domaine Dawnelle owner and winemaker, Michael O’Brien, looked after the vineyard for 5 or so years and knows exactly that this fruit has plenty to offer.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a big fan of Tasmania, a big fan of pinot noir and a big fan when both appear on a wine bottle label.
I know it’s not everything when it comes to wine but, this (and other wines of Domaine Dawnelle) present very well in a line up. The bottle shape, the simple yet stylish label and cork. Yep, true as I’m typing this, there’s a bung in the bottle. It will raise questions but it’ll excite the wine purists without a doubt.
Sorry, about the wine.
It is in no way simple like the label but definitely stylish. It’s a rich style pinot but it has been true to the variety offering plenty on the palate yet elegance has been very carefully considered. Clearly the fruit has been treated with respect. “Dark fruits” are the words here, mid palate coating plumminess, sweet-ish cherry fruit with skins on and the tannins are hanging in very nicely indeed. I don’t know that it has a long future but it certainly has a big future.
Region: Channel area, Hobart, Tasmania Price: $56 Source: Sample
I have a bit of a connection to this wine. I won’t go into the details but it may become a bit clearer as you get further into this post. Those who know me will get it straight away.
Tolmer refers to the great, great grandfather of the owners of Penley Estate, Alexander Tolmer. He was a “dashing and colourful” character (that’s not the connection although I wish it was!) who ended up becoming the Commissioner of Police in South Australia.
This is shouting ‘Coonawarra Cabernet’ from the rooftops when you smell and taste it. It has all the lush, plump, dark berries you can think of and plenty of them! Complemented by some nice fresh Italian herbs and creamy vanilla oak to top off the taste sensation that lingered on the palate. I will add though that the tannins were a tad drying but because of how good the fruit is and I gave it protein (it so needs at this young age), this didn’t present as an issue. I’d love to see this in a few years time. I reckon by then it will, like it’s namesake, be quite a charming, “dashing and colourful” character.
Region: Coonawarra, SA Price: $30 Source: Sample courtesy of Penley Estate
If someone said to me, “When you’re in New South Wales, make sure you visit Cowra. There’s some nice wines coming out of there,” it would be met with a rather quizzical look and a raised eyebrow. Hold that thought.
This one from the Windowrie guys is worth having a good look at. It’s organic and biodynamic and will attract those who hunt down this type of wine, but I reckon it will be more widespread because of how ‘chardonnay’ it is.
It shows itself as Chardonnay from the start. Stone-fruits are evident but it was like it had been sharing a fruit basket with pears and bananas (just my opinion of course). There is a nice texture to it as well, along the lines of pear peel (or skin whatever your preferred term is). The other thing coming to mind was a mealy, yeasty, European wheat beer flavour/aroma (without the fizz and froth) which I thought was a nice, delicate and interesting dimension.
Now, I must say, it took a little time to settle down but when it did, it impressed me. My advice, for what it’s worth and I know I’ve said this before when it come to white wines… don’t serve it too cold. I’d be more than happy to tell my friends about this Chardy.
Region: Cowra, NSW Price: $25 Source: Sample courtesy of Define Wine and Windowrie
Disclaimer first up. I helped Michael O’Brien at the Taste of Tasmania when he had a couple of staff that were not able to assist him pour tastings and sell his wine. I tried this wine prior to this event.
The word ‘unoaked’ before Chardonnay has, and always will be, a concern to me. Most that I have tried have been like a sheet of white A4 paper. One dimensional, quite flat and uninteresting. Maybe I’ve tried the wrong wines. That’s probably my fault for not seeking out the right wines.
So, what can I tell you about this one. To start with it was a tad subdued but with a little help became fresh and lively on the nose. Same same on the palate where it also shows some citrus characters (similar to Riesling I thought) then add a nice smooth texture, a bit of length and it’s a pretty cool package.
Now, I’m not saying this one will knock your socks off because that is not what you should expect from an unoaked Chardonnay. This is the perfect, easy drinking, ‘crack it, share it and relax with it’ summer afternoon drink.
Region: Upper Derwent Valley, Tasmania Price: $36 Source: Wine Show Tasting
I don’t think this is correct but, I wonder if the Aussie cricket captain, Steve Smith, had anything to do with making this wine. I know what you’re thinking. Where on earth is he going with this.
Let’s have a look at the wine first shall we. Very aromatic when you give it a good swirl. Lemons mainly. Love that in a Riesling. Sip away at this wine and that’s where it comes to life. To use the term “citrusy characters” sounds common and yeah, it is like that but, it’s not regulation. There seems to be another dimension or layer or something that adds absolute deliciousness to this wine.
Okay so, have you ever watched Steve Smith at the crease when he is batting? If you have, you’ll be able to understand what I mean. He is a lively bugger, is technically correct, seems comfortable in the arena, is consistent and is (will be) rewarded with high scores. Hello! This wine is exactly that!! Now do you see what I mean?
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the 2016 vintage but I think Tim Bailey has taken it up a notch with this one. (By the way, it hasn’t been released yet so I’ve used a pic of the 2016)
Region: Watervale, Clare Valley Price: $25 Source: Generous Friend
I’m going to start off by saying, I think it is great that Michael and Susan keep the label going. I reckon it is excellent.
Now, the wine. It was a pretty warm day in Hobart so it called for a white wine. This proved to be a very popular choice. A mate called in and the immediate response was, “Great label. I love this wine already”.
I can understand if you are a bit puzzled by my next comment. This has some nice palate weight. I know, I know, I can be honest in saying I didn’t expect it. I expected it to be an upfront, fruity, easy going, delicious number but there was more on offer. G’day golden delicious apples, with a hand shake of lemons and and hint of other tropical fruits that make this wine so very appealing. Even the finish gave more than you would normally expect from a wine at this price.
Amidst all the relaxed atmosphere and conversation, it didn’t last long and the bottle was empty. That’s the personality this wine brings to the group.
Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia Price: $25 Source: Sample
I googled Sparkling Vermentino only because I thought there can’t be much around in Australia. I was wrong, there is a bit out there. But, are they as good as this one!
There was every intention of opening this wine on the day we did. I’d checked the weather in the morning and it was forecast to be a very nice Sunday in my home town of Hobart so, in the fridge in went.
It started well with a lovely blanket of bubbles on top of the juice. It settled quickly and I think it added to the aromas offered up because, gee it was aromatic. Certainly citrussy and certainly inviting.
On the palate, lemons are the main player here. However, there is a palate richness and fullness which I haven’t found in other sparkling wines made from left-of-centre varieties. I thought a pear characteristic was present adding a nice dimension plus a smoothness to finish it off. It is fizzichally (it had to be done) appealing.
I know people talk about eating oysters with this type of wine but this did very nicely on its own and with confidence. There were no leftovers.
Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia Price: $40 Source: Sample