It's hard to think of the great wines of Tasmania without mentioning the name Pooley.
Pooley Wines was established in 1985 when the late Denis and Margaret Pooley planted ten rows of Riesling and seven rows of Pinot Noir on their 16-hectare farm at Cooinda Vale, Campania, in the Coal River Valley in southern Tasmania. Over the years the vineyard grew, and plantings of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay were added, along with Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. In fact, the quality of the fruit from this site was of such a high standard that Cooinda Chardonnay was included in Penfold's iconic Yattarna Chardonnay for many years. It was in 2016 that Denis and Margaret's grand-daughter, and current head winemaker, Anna Pooley, decided to keep the fruit aside, and produce a single site expression of this incredible vineyard.
The other feather in the Pooley cap is the Butcher's Hill Vineyard in nearby Richmond, which was acquired by the family in 2003. Planted to Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, it is the site of the beautiful cellar door, and the stately Belmont House, built in 1832.
Pooley Wines is a true family affair, with third generation siblings, Matt and Anna, working as viticulturalist and winemaker, respectively. Their father, John, has been instrumental in the growth of the business too, by acquiring Belmont House and planting the Butcher's Hill Vineyard. They are recognised as Tassie's first three-generation wine family.
Each year the single vineyard releases are eagerly anticipated from Pooley. Cooinda Vale tends to produce a more elegant, graceful wine, whereas Butcher's Hill is laden with power and structure. Both sites produce wines of finesse and class.
Explore Pooley wines here.
Alessandro Viola grew up around wine. His father was a vineyard worker, so he spent a lot of time surrounded by grapes, playing among the vines. Though he rarely saw the fruits of his father's labour, other than the occasional homemade wine! Nevertheless, his youthful experiences sparked a passion for winemaking and off he went to study oenology at university. Alessandro gravitated to the more minimalist, old-school styles of winemaking, finding the large-scale, mechanical production methods sterile and soulless.
After completing his studies, Alessandro took a job working at a large estate on Mt Etna to help further his craft. But it didn't fulfil his desire to produce natural, minimal intervention wines. Preferring to focus on this hands-off winemaking he left the estate and set out on his own path. Today, he manages 7 hectares of organic vines, all tended by hand, across two sites in Sicily - Pietra Rinosa and Fastuchera. Both sites are sun-soaked but coastal influence ensures temperature moderation and a distinctive salinity to the wines.
Alessandro works with local varieties such as Catarratto, Grillo, Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese. We've loved his wines for years and welcome the new addition of a Rose too (Pete's new favourite). His wines run the gamut of styles from skin contact, sparkling, red, white and even a late harvest dessert wine too! Completely natural, utterly delicious and as with all things unique, in small quantities. Don't miss them.
Find Alessandro Viola wines here.
“Romain Guiberteau’s white wines made him famous. When they hit the mainstream, they blew everyone’s minds with their power, energy, and sharpness. These wines are so potent and high energy as to require sometime in bottle, so don’t open too early. The standout white is les Clos des Carmes. The reds are great, too. Some contend Romain Guiberteau is in fact a better red-wine maker, despite his white-wine fame.” Rajat Parr, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste
Domaine Guiberteau is a relatively new Domaine, certainly in the context of Loire Valley producers. Their fruit was supplied to the local co-operative for many years until Romain Guiberteau decided it was time to bottle his holdings himself.
Romain's mentor is Nady Foucault of Clos Rougeard, arguably the best estate in the Loire Valley and certainly the most sought after. You really couldn't find a better mentor. It certainly helps to explain how a new-comer has been able to produce wines of such high quality and praise in a relatively short space of time. Combine that with a focused and meticulous approach in the vineyard and cellar and we start to understand why these wines have become so sought after globally.
Having tried a 2013 Breze at dinner recently, I can confirm these wines are gorgeous with age and worthy of a position in your cellar. This estate is no longer one to watch - it's not to be missed.
Find Guiberteau here.