Coal River Valley, Tasmania
Samantha Connew is one of Australia’s great wine makers. In her day job as winemaker for Pressing Matters and also with her own Stargazer label, she is crafting some of the elite pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling in the country. This release of wines includes what I believe is a groundbreaking riesling for Australia (fermented in concrete and ceramic eggs) and also the best Stargazer pinot that I think she has ever made. Enjoy!
2022 Stargazer Palisander Riesling
RRP: $50 | Offer $45
In 6-Packs: $42
This wine is so great, this type of vinification and level of attention to detail is bound to become a “new norm” for ultra high-quality Australian Rieslings. To explain this statement; these handpicked grapes were crushed and left to macerate for 8 hours, this extracts more phenolics and flavours from the skins, imparting them to the juice, giving a wine with more textural and flavour complexity. Many (lesser) Rieslings are based on a simplistic backbone of acid only with little other textural complexity; this wine (and many from Europe) also have a phenolic texture - more “grip”, a slight gentle “chewiness”, and more body. In this wine, the short skin-contact and the fermentation in ceramic and cement eggs has helped to add more dimension to the wine.
Samantha is also using these methods in her “day job” at Pressing Matters to impressive effect. The excellent vineyard plays a key role, planted in 2002 in Tea Tree, Coal River Valley, Tasmania. This is a cool site giving a wine of Chablis-like pH (3.04). This form of grape treatment and fermentation won’t work as well in warm climates, and many earlier “skin-contact” wines in Australia ended up with over-extracted tea-like tannins; and lesser grapes or warm climate grapes with skin-contact also ended up with mawkish oily texture.
Bravo to Samantha! The aromas have lemongrass, grapefruit, nougat, slivered almonds, slight rose-water and mock-orange blossom notes. The palate has a hint of saline / marine freshness with lemon pith and passionfruit, but this is not an overly fruity wine. The acidity is there, but well covered and the finish is clean and long. - Randall
2022 Stargazer Chardonnay
RRP: $73 | Offer $65
In 6-Packs: $62
This is from fruit grown in the Derwent Valley and Coal River Valley. The grapes were pressed and the wine is all barrel fermented in 500lt barrels. Impressively, while the oak is far from obvious, 20% of the barrels were new.
This is a refined albeit highly complex wine with underlying macadamia and yeast-lees complexity, good weight and density of fruit, and a Chablis-like tautness and drive. It’s interesting that even with this degree of freshness, rocky minerality and tang, it has gone through 100% malolactic fermentation which reduces acid feel and can add a little “creaminess” to the texture. - Randall
2022 Stargazer Pinot Noir
RRP: $73 | Offer: $65
In 6-Packs: $62
This is another stunning, alluring wine from the Coal River Valley. The colour is vivid, almost electric, and the bouquet is lifted, vibrantly alive and brimming with berry fruit, amaro herbs (like Campari) and sweet Asian spices. New oak aroma and flavour, although 20% of the 500lt barrels were new, is firmly buried beneath the fruit intensity. Flavours are fresh, super-youthful and juicy; with red cherry, small strawberry, raspberry pulp and pomegranate to the fore, with the 20% whole bunch stemmy / herbal complexity in the background. This is a precise, balanced wine with generosity and power, but also a reticence and reserve. I want to see this wine many times through the next decade! - Randall