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Tuesday 15 November 2022

Tolpuddle celebrates 10 years of consistent success

A decade ago I was invited to the launch of a new premium wine brand in Tasmania.

Called Tolpuddle, the range featured just two estate-grown wines, a chardonnay and a pinot noir from a long-established vineyard in the Coal River Valley - just outside Hobart.

The wines were the brainchild of Michael Hill Smith MW and his cousin Martin Shaw, the pair behind the much-lauded Shaw+Smith range in the Adelaide Hills.

Over the past decade the Tolpuddle team, which also includes viticulturist Carlos Souris, winemaker Adam Wadewitz and joint CEO David LeMire MW, have done a lot of work in the vineyard - which was originally planted with idea of making sparkling wines. 

Wadewitz, who came on board after the first vintage, has constantly tweaked the winemaking.

Even allowing for vintage variations, the 10 chardonnays and nine pinots that we tasted this week (no pinot was made in 2019) showed an incredible consistency of excellence.

These wines are all beautifully balanced at different stages of their journeys.

No wonder, then, that over the past decade Tolpuddle has established a global reputation, winning accolades around the world.

Just two week ago the Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 was named Best Recent Release: Pinot Noir (excluding Burgundy) at the 2022 Wine Pinnacle Awards in Singapore.

Thus it was that the Tolpuddle team held a special retrospective tasting of all wines released since the inaugural 2012 vintage, at MONA on Monday.

Hill Smith said: “We purchased the Tolpuddle Vineyard in 2011 full of expectation for this special site and have worked tirelessly on vineyard improvements ever since. The wines, the reputation and the sheer enjoyment of the project has all exceeded our initial expectation.

"We love the extraordinary depth and the fruit intensity we get from this vineyard - and it impressive that over a decade all the wines do look like they came from the same place."

Wadewitz has managed to tame the fearsome acid that can be a component of Tasmanian whites without overt malo or intrusive oak flavours.

The team's commitment to quality was underlined by the absence of the 2019 pinot from the line-up. It was not made that year after bush fires and the fruit being deemed not up to scratch.

"We had put in too much effort into establishing our reputation to risk releasing a wine with which we did not have complete confidence," Shaw said. 

My favourite wines; the 2015 and the 2017 in both brackets. The 2021s are drinking well now, but buyers will certainly be rewarded for a couple of years of patience. 
Established in 1988, the Tolpuddle Vineyard is recognised as one of the finest vineyards in Tasmania.

The vineyard is named after the Tolpuddle Martyrs whose ‘reward’ for starting England’s first agrarian union was to be transported to Tasmania as convicts.

The current release Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021 and Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2021 ($96 RRP) are now on sale - in tiny quantities.

Image: Michael Hill Smith MW, David LeMire MW, Martin Shaw 

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