Tasmania could be the most exciting (and still untapped) region in Australia. The weather is cool, the vineyards are maturing, winemakers are gaining experience and there is a plethora of great producers churning out consistently excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sparkling. The affable and energetic Joe Holyman is one of these, under his namesake label and Stoney Rise Wine Co. He sits in the top echelon of winemakers (along with Stefano Lubiana, Pooley, Meadowbank, Sailor Seeks Horse and Tolpuddle).
Joe and his wife Lou set up shop in Tamar Valley (Northern Tasmania) in 2004. They purchased a small (4 hectare) vineyard that was planted in 1986. Vineyards tend to hit their straps after 15 years of vine age and getting a quality vineyard with some vine age helped Holyman/ Stoney Rise achieve immediate success. The vineyard experiences cool temps, morning mists and afternoon sunshine, with cooling breezes that flow down the Tamar River, less than a kilometer away. This is almost perfect conditions for even and slow ripening which Pinot Noir loves. Joe practices organic farming, employing some biodynamic principles and preparations, and whilst not certified, uses no artificial sprays or herbicides.
The Pinot Noir 2017 is the first of a couple of Pinots and for us it is one of the best sub-$30 Pinot Noirs on the market. The wine has a 5-day cold soak, which means the juice sits on its skins for 5 days before the ferment kicks off naturally. Take note of this if you like your pinot with some weight and colour, as this old school technique helps you pick up more body and tannin. Post ferment the wine is basket pressed (Barossa style) to French oak, though only a small portion of it is new. It is a fruit forward pinot, with loads of dark cherry, raspberry and wild red fruits. You will also taste fresh herbs and a subtle brown spice, fresh coffee quality. Where this wine delivers on its modest price point is its intensity, balance and structure. The wine has some guts, fine tannin and builds evenly through the palate. This is the extra quality we look for at Press, and Pinot under $30 rarely has this.
We’re prone to judging winemakers and wineries by the company they keep and the wines they drink. Holyman takes his wine seriously though with an adventurous spirit, taking risks and pushing boundaries. He drinks wines like these from like-minded producers, and when they cut through they become some of the worlds best. For us, this makes them a winery to watch and enjoy.
You could easily enjoy one bottle of Stoney Rise Pinot Noir 2017 each year as you work through your 6 bottles, it will keep the 5-year journey.