It is rare that a completely new release comes to market with such universal acclaim. Tolpuddle Vineyards Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been hailed as "a new benchmark for Australian Pinot Noir" and "a confident, intense dry white in Australia-meets-Chablis mold, revealing the vineyard source and the purity of fruit that that entails, a Michelangelo's David to the many Goliaths out there." Decanter Magazine, JancisRobinson.com and critics Huon Hooke, Anthony Rose, and Jamie Goode have all been effusive in their praise of the estate's inaugural vintage in 2012. Perhaps this should come as no surprise given the talents behind the project: Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith of Shaw + Smith fame.
Having already established benchmarks for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (not to mention great Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc) in the Adelaide Hills, a trip to Tasmania resulted in a love at first sight encounter with Tolpuddle Vineyard. Established in 1988 by Tony Jordan, Gary Crittenden and Bill Casimaty in Southern Tasmania's Coal River Valley, the vineyard has a long-established reputation as one of the island's greatest fruit sources: in fact, in 2006 it was awarded the first ever Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year Award.
Located in a rain shadow created by mountains to the west, the Coal River Valley couples an extremely long and cool growing season with very low rainfall, providing almost perfect conditions for ripening Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In this superb setting the crack team consisting of Joint Managing Directors Shaw and Smith, Senior Winemaker Adam Wadewitz (a former Jimmy Watson trophy recipient while at Best's) and Viticulturist Ray Guerin (who recently received the 2013 Gourmet Traveller Viticulturist of the Year) have produced two stunning new wines.
Bright and pure, Tolpuddle's wines are perfect expressions of the less-is-more ethic of the New Australia. The Chardonnay leaves behind the battonage and oak influence of the past and instead presents an electric minerality that reflects the silica and sandstone soils and the region's cool climate.