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Wednesday 5 August 2015

Meet the Tasmanian wine domaine without any vines - but not for long

It might seem a little presumptuous to call your new Tasmanian wine brand Domaine Dawnelle when you do not yet have a domaine – but viticulturist and winemaker Michael O'Brien has that little fact in hand.

A domaine is defined as a vineyard that makes and bottles wine from its own grapes.

The first release under the Domaine Dawnelle label is a 2013 pinot noir which O'Brien has sourced from the Tinderbox vineyard, where he has contract managed the vines for three years.

O'Brien describes the concept as “vineyard designate” - and he will source fruit for future vintages not only from Tinderbox, but also from Elsewhere in the Huon Valley and other sources of quality of fruit.

A vineyard designated wine is one produced from the product of a single vineyard, with that vineyard's name appearing on the wine label. It is a concept that is popular in both Burgundy and California.

But there will eventually be a domaine, or home vineyard. O'Brien has planted pinot, chardonnay and riesling vines at Granton, and has more in the pipeline, next to Laurel Bank, where he will eventually have a winery and cellar door if he gets planning permission.

In the meantime, while his own vines mature, he is attempting to source the best fruit he can – an expensive exercise. He currently makes his wines at Moorilla Estate, where he stores his barrels. 

Just 1500 bottles were made of the 2013 pinot ($56) , most to be sold direct, but O'Brien, who previously worked at Stefano Lubiana and in Oregon, among other places, before starting his own viticultural consultancy, has big plans.

My point of difference is that I look after the vines and am hands-on all the way through the process,” he says. “Any wine I make is all my work and I will focus on the site rather than winemaking influence.”

Dawnelle, incidentally, is the name of an old family farm. See    

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