DON’T JUDGE BYA COVER

BE­FORE YOU TURN UP YOUR NOSE, CON­SIDER WHAT YOUR FIRST GLANCE COULD BE OVER­LOOK­ING

Life & Style Weekend - - WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ To read more Travis Schultz wine re­views go to traviss­chultz.com.au

When close friends booked an Airbnb hol­i­day house 15km from Swansea a cou­ple of years ago, and then in­vited us to join them for a long week­end at the end of April, I was sure they’d gone bonkers. Af­ter all, who chooses to visit one of the coolest and windi­est parts of Tas­ma­nia just as win­ter is de­scend­ing and adding an icy chill to the air for the bet­ter part of the day? And why travel all that way to stay in con­vict coun­try when there are per­fectly suit­able ho­tels in many towns which are sur­rounded by cafes and restau­rants and graced by all of the 21st- cen­tury crea­ture comforts that we now take for granted?

It was to be my first visit to Swansea, a town that I had heard of and knew of only be­cause of its world-class oys­ter banks. As one does, I hastily en­tered the search term “Swansea, Tas­ma­nia” to do some su­per­fi­cial re­search be­fore board­ing QF 5759 to Ho­bart, only to dis­cover (thanks to Wikipedia) that in the 1996 Cen­sus re­sults, the town of Swansea had a pop­u­la­tion of 495 – 25 per cent of whom were older than 65. That made it the old­est town in Tas­ma­nia, as it had the high­est pro­por­tion of res­i­dents over the age of 65 of any in the state. This was go­ing to be a hoot. Not.

But as my dear mum al­ways said, “Never judge a book by its cover”, and hav­ing spent

24 hours in the lo­cale, I soon re­alised some­thing that the plen­ti­ful lo­cal oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans had dis­cov­ered long ago - that this was one spe­cial place. It turned out that Swansea was lo­cated on the Great Oys­ter

Bay and only half an hour from the mag­nif­i­cent Fr­eycinet Na­tional Park. The Na­tional Park walk is a must for any vis­i­tor – es­pe­cially for those with an over-en­thu­si­as­tic (then) 10-year-old to wear out be­fore bed­time. But best of all, the town is close to some of the best cel­lar doors and vine­yards that Tas­ma­nia has to of­fer.

Ear­lier this year I had the plea­sure of catch­ing up with Tom Wal­lace, wine­maker at Devil’s Corner, at the Noosa Food and Wine Fes­ti­val. Their cel­lar door is only about 25km from Swansea and eas­ily reached in a day trip from Ho­bart. As you’d ex­pect, their fo­cus is on the va­ri­etals that do well in the cool and chal­leng­ing cli­mate such as pinot noir, pinot gris and chardon­nay. And if Tom will ex­cuse me for say­ing so, it’s re­ally only their pinot noir that puts them on the oeno­log­i­cal map.

At Devil’s Corner, there are three tiers of pinot noir: the Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2018 ($24), the Devil’s Corner Res­o­lu­tion Pinot Noir 2017 ($34) and their top end Devil’s Corner Mt Amos Pinot Noir 2017 ($65). And while you can’t fairly com­pare pinot noir from wildly dif­fer­ent re­gions (and ter­roir), the Devil’s Corner of­fer­ings are up there with the most ap­proach­able I’ve tried in re­cent times.

For an en­try level wine that can be found on spe­cial for well un­der $20 a bot­tle in all of the ma­jors, the Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2018 stands up re­ally well. There are de­light­ful cherry and jubey fruit char­ac­ters up front, and hints of all­spice in the mid­dle and a savoury sub­tlety on the fin­ish. For a grape that is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to grow and is gen­er­ally ex­pen­sive, the Devil’s Corner de­liv­ers rea­son­able value, that’s for sure.

If the bud­get per­mits, the top end Mt Amos 2017 is a sub­lime ex­am­ple of the pinot noir style and has way more class than Tas­ma­nia’s pin-up boy, David Boon (who fa­mously con­sumed 52 cans of beer on a flight to Lon­don). It’s top end, and lines your tongue with vel­vet as it ca­resses its way across your mid-palate and leaves its rich fruit call­ing card on the back end be­fore the ele­gance of French oak in­flu­ences a lin­ger­ing con­clu­sion.

So, if a friend sug­gests a so­journ to Tassie’s east coast and a long week­end in an Airbnb, be sure to book into Swansea and pay a visit to Tom Wal­lace and the Devil’s Corner team; you won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

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