Tolpuddle

I was fortunate to be invited down to Tasmania last week to visit the Tolpuddle vineyard about 20 minutes from Hobart in the Coal River Valley. As many of you would already be aware, Tolpuddle is the Tasmanian home of Adelaide Hills-based duo, Martin Shaw and Michael Hill-Smith (aka Shaw and Smith). The pair purchased the vineyard almost on a whim (although I don’t think this pair do whims) in 2011 after becoming instantly enamoured by the potential of the existing setup and the site itself.

Since then the work to bring it up to par has been exhaustive. Walking through the vines with the passionate vineyard manager, Carlos Souris, you gain an appreciation for the enormous amount that has been done over the last few years (extensive excavation work, replanting, trellising, new clones, irrigation, frost abatement systems, roads, dams, wind breaks and the list goes on) to ensure the potential S&S saw in 2011 is brought to fruition. In fact, they’ve hit gold with Souris; his dedication to the project and belief in the site is inspirational…. well almost, I am a jaded wine retailer after all!

 

The fruit is transported to the Adelaide Hills HQ where senior winemaker, Adam Wadewitz – only one of the most talented winemakers in Australia – takes over and makes just two wines: A Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. Even from the first release in 2012 it was obvious that the confidence in the site was well founded and the label has already become one of Australia greatest sources of these two varieties. Moreover, a retrospective tasting of 2012 through to 2015 shows that the wines are getting better and better with the improving fruit source; again, testament to the work Souris and Co. have done in the vineyard in the past four years.

In general, though, this is a mighty impressive project. Conceived with knowledge, passion and a maturity in the process that has yielded almost immediate results.

A very brief overview of the two brackets of wine is as follows:

Chardonnay 2012- 2015

The bracket is a tale of two halves for me. Starting with the rapier linearity of the 2012 (only now starting to evolve) and the warmer and less defined 2013; both wines are excellent and in any other company would be standouts but the real show starts with 2014 and 2015. Here the wines retain the energy of the 2012 but add into the mix more mid-palate coverage and winemaking artefact that adds to the picture rather than dominates and you’ve

Pinot Noir 2012 – 2015

By contrast the Pinots present as a more complete bracket with a more homogeneous quality level across the vintages. What’s more I think the pinots are stronger in general and show more individuality than the chardonnays at this point. The wines are all good but the 2014 and 2015 are great; more complete and complex. There's much to like here for the future.