As this is a little corner of paradise, I won't shout about it too loudly, so as not to attract more hordes of tourists than we already have in summer, eager to wander off the beaten track. Bruny Island lives to the rhythm of the wind coming from the South Pole, which sets the tone for the temperature. Advantage or disadvantage, in any case for a native of Normandy, adaptation is easy for me. All the more so when this green setting is surrounded by numerous brown and white wallabies amongst the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, it's a bit like a corner of Burgundy in the depths of Australia.
But where are we? We are on an island in the island surrounded by the Tasman Sea... No more mystery, have you found it? Well yes we are in Tasmania, but talking about Tasmania to a Frenchman and he will look at you with the eyes of a lost owl! Tasmania is a call from the heart, an island that I have discovered several times, always with a passion for visiting the vineyards there. Yes in Tasmania, although it is the southernmost island of Australia, this island has many beautiful producers of wine that have nothing to envy compared to those produced on the mainland.
After travelling long, wide and across Tasmania, I discovered that this island offers a beautiful range of whites, reds and traditional method wines. Some estates use their fame through marketing, but others do not use "swear words", more discreet, smaller also in terms of hectares, these properties cuddle their vines by gentle and natural methods. Needless to say that the wines produced from these vineyards give off more aromas, body and sensuality. Wines as I like them, as you would like them; but let's come back to our wallabies, rather to our Bruny Island vines.
It was indeed a challenge for the couple Richard and Bernice Woolley who planted their first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in 1998. Two hectares of vines planted on a slope, caressed by the northern sun. And yes, let's not forget that we are in the southern hemisphere. Also the calendar of nature imposes a pruning in July and August, under rain, wind, cold and hail sometimes. When our French winegrowers start harvesting in September, our buds have just bloomed on Bruny Island and flowering starts the first week of December! A green harvest is carried out so that the grapes benefit from maximum sunshine and the air passes through to purify the vines. At the end of February, not the least manipulation must be carried out in order to preserve the grapes, covering the whole vineyard with a net. Also an electric line protects the whole vineyard to prevent greedy wallabies and possums from inviting themselves to feast at the table.
It is towards the end of April that the harvest is picked by hand. Many resident volunteers come to help with this activity. The Pinot Noir grapes are destemmed, then cold-macerated in order to colour the must for 10 to 14 days, allowing the fermentation to start gently with the indigenous yeasts. This is followed by alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation, which will continue during the winter months reducing the natural acidity of the wine. In the following spring, the fermentation is completed, the wine is aged 15% in new French oak barrels "Taransaud" for 9 months, followed by clarification and ready for bottling.
In 2018, the summer did not escape its share of forest fires in Tasmania. Also the coast opposite Bruny burned, the winds were strong and the fire dust fell on the whole island. At Wayaree Estate, many questions arose about the quality of the future harvest. The grapes were in danger of having an undesirable smoky taste. The decision was taken to shorten the skin maceration and to vinify the grapes into rosé. A beautiful adaptation that I had the pleasure of tasting last month thanks to Tania and Andrew who live on Bruny and told me about the hell and helplessness in front of the climatic phenomenon. (Thanks to them) It seems that a traditional rosé method is on its way out... I can't wait to tell you more about it. If you pass by Bruny, do not hesitate to taste the wines of Wayaree Estate, you will be welcomed, informed, advised with kindness and professionalism. The estate's table reflects local products, your taste buds will be delighted if you invite them to discover the local specialities cooked with passion.
A last piece of advice if you want to avoid two hours of waiting to board the ferry, visit Bruny outside the summer period, the locals will be grateful to you!
See you soon on Bruny Island...