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Thursday 6 December 2018

Tasmanian gamble paying off big-time for Connew

Creative winemaker Samantha Connew had a choice of wine regions throughout Australia and New Zealand when she elected to strike out on her own five years ago.

The New Zealand-born lawyer turned winemaker opted for the Coal River Valley in Tasmania because of its quality cool-climate fruit after stints making wine for big interstate names including Wirra Wirra and Tower Estate, as a wine researcher and a spell as chief judge of the Sydney Royal Wine Show.

Connew fulfilled the dream of owning her own vineyard by buying the Palisander vineyard, planted with pinot noir and riesling, in the Coal River Valley in early 2016.

Stargazer became an almost instant success and nowadays demand exceeds supply – forcing Connew to plant new vineyards – four hectares of pinot noir, chardonnay, gamay, riesling and pinot blanc to meet demand.

Connew’s winemaking style veers towards minimal intervention with natural yeast ferments and some skin contact part of her repetoire. “I just love the opportunity to work with pristine Tasmanian fruit - and to craft the wines in a style I am passionate about,” she says.

Connew has just had an unusual problem: so popular were her Stargazer wines that she had none left to sell.

“It’s a nice problem to have in that people are clearly enjoying the wines I am making, but at the same time it has been frustrating,” says Connew.

Whites from the “standout” 2018 vintage were among her recent new releases - but she reckons she will probably be out of pinot noir again by Christmas.

The new white releases are the 2018 Tupelo ($32), a stylish pinot gris, gewurz aand riesling blend, the 2018 Riesling ($38), wild fermented and feisty, and the stunningly sleek and complete 2017 Chardonnay ($55).

The two reds comprise the 2018 Rada, an edgy pinot meunier/pinot noir blend that can be chilled in warmer months, and an impressively perfumed and textural 2017 Pinot Noir ($55) for which it will be the quick and the dead.

The name Stargazer, by the way, pays tribute to explorer and navigator Abel Tasman.

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