Clonal selection – it’s a buzzword among wine and vine aficionados all over the world. This viticultural practice is just one illustration of the extent to which viticulturists and winemakers go in order to achieve perfection in the vineyard.
So what does this clonal selection or variation actually involve? According to British wine author Jancis Robinson MW, clonal selection is “one of the two principal means of improving a vine variety (the other being the elimination of virus diseases). Clonal selection is the practice of selecting a single superior plant in the vineyard and then taking cuttings from this vine for propagation.”
Once this “single superior plant”, also called the “mother vine”, has been isolated, a piece of this vine is removed and planted directly into the soil where it will sprout its own roots or be grafted onto another vine.
So what are winemakers looking for in the ultimate clonal selection? It depends. It could be about achieving a particular yield or achieving resistance to fungus. Perhaps a winemaker is looking for flavour concentration or fruit ripeness. Whatever you’re looking to achieve as a winemaker, there’s bound to be a clone to fit the bill.
The reason Pinot Noir is one of the most cloned varieties in the world is because it’s a very old grape variety. Possibly one of the most ancient of all varieties still produced commercially. It’s been in existence for possibly thousands of years. At the least there’s evidence to suggest Pinot Noir existed in its hallowed turf of Burgundy in the 4th century AD. As a result, it’s prone to mutations and to deteriorate in the vineyard, as evidenced in the multitude of Pinot Noir clones available all over the world.
As a Pinot Noir producer, Holm Oak has had ample experience cultivating this tricky variety in the vineyard. It’s our wild child, and we’re quite familiar with taming its erratic behaviour through resourceful vineyard management.
So in the constant search for the supreme Pinot Noir, Holm Oak has recently planted new Pinot Noir clones in our Tamar Valley vineyard. Why more than one? Often winemakers call on a curated collection of different clones to make up the patchwork of nuances required to craft premium Pinot Noir. Some wineries craft Pinot Noir from one single clone grown in one single site; others may call upon a mix of clones planted across different sites, selecting each clone for its ability to thrive in the relative climate, soil and aspect conditions, and for the levels of complexity each clone brings to the final wine.
So, as one step in our search for the perfect Pinot Noir, we planted the Abel clone and picked it for the first time in 2017. Before we go on, we implore you to come on a tangential backstory journey about the Abel (AKA The Gumboot or Ata Rangi) clone…
The story goes that in the 1970s, Abel was smuggled into New Zealand by a rugby player returning from France, tucked into his gumboot. The cuttings, reportedly taken from the vineyards of Burgundy’s famed Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, were detected and confiscated by a New Zealand Customs Officer, called Malcolm Abel. Mal happened to be a winemaker. He must have known how valuable these cuttings were because he paid for them to be put through quarantine and when they came out the other end, planted them in his own vineyard, in New Zealand’s Kumeu region, north of Auckland. A serendipitous friendship saw the gifting of the Abel cuttings from Mal to the winemaker at Martinborough’s Ata Rangi Vineyard, ultimately producing what has been described as one of the best examples of Pinot Noir outside Burgundy from the Abel clone.
Why do we love the Abel clone? It produces intensely flavoured wines with great colour, silky fine tannins and length of palate. Holm Oak’s vineyard is also home to the 667 Pinot Noir clone. When planted in the right location, which is typically a cool climate, it’s capable of wonderful results. The MV6 clone is used in our flagship Wizard Pinot Noir. Its journey from Europe dates back to the 1830s, when Australia’s Father of Wine, James Busby, brought this cutting and 432 others back to Australia from his trip to France and Spain. The original Pinot Noir cuttings were labelled as Mother Vine 6 (MV6) and this is the heritage clone that continues to be cultivated in Australia today.
So when it comes to having the clonal conversation, it can be a very dry topic. (Are you still awake?) But at Holm Oak, we see clonal selection as a very important part of the greater whole that is the craft of winemaking. Our decisions in the vineyard are akin to a world-class chef choosing grain-fed beef over grass-fed beef. It may not mean much to the consumer, but to us, it can mean the difference between making a great wine or just a pretty good wine. And, of course, our goal is always to strive for the best.
If fresh handmade pasta is up your alley, don’t miss Fico. Here, you’ll enjoy modern interpretations of old favourites showcasing produce from local farmers, fishmongers and butchers. Indulge in the house-made sourdough with the Gorgonzola dolce. Or go for the Valrhona chocolate tart with salted vanilla gelato and maple syrup. Either way, you’ll leave with a smile on your face.
151a Macquarie St, Hobart
Agrarian Kitchen Eatery & Store
A short drive, maybe 30 minutes, from Hobart’s CBD, is the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery & Store. This charming place began as a cooking school and farm with a longing by its owners to connect to the earth and to grow and cook authentic food. It has since morphed into a wonderfully warm and open space where local, seasonal produce is celebrated in the restaurant. The ingredients speak for themselves – simplicity is key. Relationships with local producers are fostered and excess produce is preserved as pickles, jams, ferments or is cured in the dedicated preserving kitchen, then featured on the menu or sold in the store. A beautiful experience.
11A The Avenue, New Norfolk
A small 20-seater tucked away in the back streets of Hobart, Templo may be small in size but its charm is next level. The food has an Italian flair – try the rosemary and olive focaccia, the house-made pasta with cheese and pancetta or the silken gnocchi with broccoli and crunchy breadcrumbs. This is satisfyingly simple food served with love. It delivers every time. Open for lunch Saturday-Monday and dinner Thursday-Monday.
98 Patrick St, Hobart
New-ish kid on the Hobart food block is Dier Makr. Its seasonal produce-driven degustation menu talk to you in chalk on the wall, in very minimalist terms, like “Cucumber”, “Pork, Peach” and “Blueberry, Goat’s Curd”. The best bit is waiting to see how these ideas are interpreted on the plate. The international wine list has a minimal intervention theme. And the cocktails are whimsical yet refined, often topped with local wildflowers. Dier Makr is intimate yet ambitious in its goals, and often exceeds them.
123 Collins St, Hobart
The Posh Pit on the ferry to Mona
No-one comes to Hobart and misses a trip to Mona. There’s a great bar and restaurant on the island (https://www.mona.net.au/mona/restaurant), but on your way upgrade your ferry tickets to grant entry to the Posh Pit, which includes drinks and canapés in an exclusive lounge area, and on arrival, a tour of Moorilla Winery.
If you like your food with fire, drop into waterside Latin American hotspot Frank, where chargrilled octopus and pork and chipotle empanadas meet charcoal grilled skirt steak and Tassie oysters dressed in chorizo salsa. Sitting on the historic Franklin Wharf, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more fun and fiery dining spot.
1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart
Bruny Island Cheese Cellar Door
No need to trek all the way to Bruny Island to sample this cheesemaker’s delights. Drop into its little shop in Hobart, tucked under the stairs in the Salamanca Arts Centre (opposite Hobart’s gorgeous fashion store, The Maker). It showcases all of Bruny Island’s cheeses and beers, as well as a few others for good measure. The store also stocks a broad range of artisan Tasmanian produce. Pull up a pew and enjoy a beer and cheese platter.
Salamanca Place, Hobart
Drop in here for top-notch brekkie – bircher muesli, anyone? These people are serious about their coffee. And they knock out a pretty good sweet treat, too – fuel up on cocoa waffles with peanut butter cream, dulce de leche and fresh banana and your day is made.
48 Argyle St, Hobart
Paddock to plate is the word, here. The owners opened Pigeon Hole as a showcase for their farm’s produce, Weston Farm Produce, and the “fresh farm” vibe is evident once the food arrives. Open for breakfast and lunch every day of the week, it’s also licensed and serves Tassie wine, beer and cider. For breakfast, you can’t go past gingerbread granola, seasonal fruit, whipped yogurt and Weston Farm honey. Coffee is solid, too.
93 Goulburn St, West Hobart
Sweet toothes MUST drop into Sweet Envy in North Hobart. It’s the traditional Aussie cake shop on steroids. Treats from your childhood memories call you from behind the glass cases – pecan sticky buns smothered in caramel sound tempting? Cookies, cakes, ice-cream and pies are all there for the taking…
341 Elizabeth St, North Hobart
Peacock and Jones
Housed in an old sandstone warehouse on Hobart’s waterfront, Peacock and Jones is connected to The Henry Jones Art Hotel. Its interiors juxtapose the old-world charm of exposed high rafters against slick furniture and tableware. You could call the food “gastropub”. Fish and chips, roast chicken, lamb rump, Berkshire pork – all come accompanied by fresh local ingredients that highlight the brilliance that is Tassie’s fresh produce industry.
33 Hunter St, Hobart
After heavy development and new launches over the last few years, Launceston’s food and wine scene is now thriving. Here’s our pick of the great wine bars and drinking establishments in Launceston, one of Australia’s oldest cities.
This funky little place in a quiet alley in Launceston showcases a great range of Tasmanian craft whisky and gin, as well as an impressive range of beers. Its design is industrial cool with curious artwork and ambient lighting.
33 Kingsway 7250 Launceston
Saint John Craft Beer Bar
Named after its founding position on Saint John Street in Launceston, this intimate craft beer venue features up to 14 taps of international, Australian and, of course, Tasmanian, craft beer, as well as more than 170 bottled beer options, ciders, wines and top shelf spirits. One of the best bits about this bar is that you can BYO food or order street food from the food van that’s positioned out the back from 5pm.
133 St John Street Launceston
Geronimo Aperitivo Bar & Restaurant
Looking for a special place? Make it Geronimo. Some of the best food created in Launceston is found on this menu, and the wines match the quality of the dishes. Enjoy lamb rump, braised lamb, eggplant, baba ganoush and mint with Holm Oak’s Cabernet Merlot. The food at the bar is just as tasty – polenta fries with garlic aioli, chicken liver parfait with port wine jelly, or jamon and Taleggio brioche toastie with a Monkey Mule cocktail featuring cardamom-infused vodka, chilli and ginger beer.
186 Charles Street, Launceston
Tandy’s Ale House
This small family-run business is big on character. Its focus is clearly on selling Tasmanian craft beer but Tassie ciders and other spirits are also in the line-up. The exposed brick walls, timber benches and open fire make this a truly inviting place to sit back and enjoy the local drops – the owners rebuilt the old site with Tasmanian-sourced materials only, including Huon pine tap handles. And the heart-warming meaning behind this place is that it’s named after the owner’s sister, Tandy, who died from ovarian cancer a few years ago. A portion of the sale of each beer sold in Tandy’s goes to the Ovarian Cancer Australia.
100-102 Elizabeth Street Launceston
This place blends old world charm with slick modern touches to create sophisticated a drinking establishment serving Tasmania wines, whisky, local brews with an ever-changing tasting menu. This old building has been refurbished but the owners have preserved the history of this old building with dark timber touches, brown leather chesterfields and dimmed lighting. Enjoy elegant dishes at the restaurant after a few drinks at the bar.
61 Cameron Street, Launceston
Mudbar and Restaurant
Mudbar and Restaurant is a feel-good place to eat and be seen and a cool place to hang out. This restaurant and bar perched on the North Esk River’s edge makes a great special occasion spot. Choose from the bar’s super-long but high-quality wine list, boutique beers and spirits, or a fun cocktail.
28 Seaport Boulevard, Launceston
Red Brick Road Ciderhouse
Fancy a cider? This is your go-to cider house in Launceston. It may be a hole in the wall but this little bar is the outlet for the Red Brick Road’s handcrafted ciders. Owners and cider makers Corey Baker and Karina Dambergs use their winemaking background to create their top-tasting ciders (Karina was sparkling winemaker at Clover Hill in Pipers River for years). Their approach to making cider is simple: real cider, made from real Tassie fruit, by real people. The hopped cider and the sparkling cider are our favourite drops.
63a Brisbane St, Launceston
Did someone say hipster hangout? With themed nights like Fuego Fridays ($20 Gin & Juice Jugs) and Beats, Tins & Chicken Wings, there’s a particular crowd that’s heading to Bakers Lane. They love frisky espresso martinis and chipotle crispy chicken burgers, live acoustic acts and DJ sets all weekend.
81 York Street, Launceston
Stillwater Wine Bar
If it’s confident elegance you’re after, the bar at Stillwater has your name on it. After a sensitive renovation, this old riverside mill makes the perfect spot for wine lovers interested in trying top local Tassie drops as well as exciting overseas wines. The food is refined yet simple – how does a charcuterie board with cornichons washed down with a glass of Tassie Riesling sound? Or whisky-cured Huon salmon with a white Burgundy? It’s all possible at Stillwater.
2 Bridge Rd, Launceston
Riesling reigns in both the old (European) and new (everywhere else) worlds of wine. Its “King of the Grapes” moniker comes from its reputation for being versatile, sturdy and ageworthy, with pure fruit flavours that tell authentic stories of the grapes’ provenance. Wine enthusiasts call it a ‘noble’ variety, which is another way of calling it an ‘International Variety’ label, as it’s grown and enjoyed in most wine-producing countries of the world. A noble variety also has the ability to evolve into a great wine that speaks volumes of its provenance. At Holm Oak, we grow and produce most of the noble varieties, and Riesling is one of our favourites.
So it’s music to our ears that Riesling is enjoying a revival of sorts. There are so many reasons why this ancient variety is so hot right now. Let us count the ways…
First, our eating habits have changed over the last decade or so. We’re eating lighter, more health-conscious foods like salads and seafood that lend themselves to wines with clean, zippy fruit flavours discovered in a chilled glass of Riesling. And despite the cool temperatures we experience in Tassie, the rest of the continent sweats through a long, hot summer season, which can begin in September and extend right through to March or April. So it’s a no-brainer that drinking refreshing whites is far more appealing than glugging heavy reds.
Secondly, the way Riesling is being crafted by loads of winemakers these days brings the refreshingly racy flavours to the fore. Take a sip of Holm Oak’s Riesling and bite into a perfectly ripe Pink Lady apple. The balanced fruit flavours are not affected by oak, tannins or other secondary elements. The essence of the wine smacks of pristine cool-climate fruit with palate-cleansing zestiness.
Thirdly, this variety can age. Oh yes it can! When the vineyard and winemaking conditions are right, it can develop complexity for years to come. So why can Riesling age when other white varieties scream ‘drink me!’ when they clock a year in the cellar? Because Riesling’s naturally occurring high levels of acidity make it primed to develop gracefully over time. (Some German Rieslings have been known to not only age but improve to 100 years of age!) Certainly not every Riesling has the propensity (or the intention) to age. Generally, with forethought from the winemaker, a Riesling will reach its peak drinking age 15-20 years after its vintage year. Depending on the region in which it’s produced and other factors such as winemaking technique and the wine’s position on the dry-to-sweet spectrum, Riesling can develop lovely flavours and aromas of toast and honey, peaches, nectarines and apricots through the course of ageing.
On the dry end of the spectrum, Rieslings tend to lose their citrus overtones and develop more minerally, smoky characteristics. In sweeter Rieslings, the fruit becomes more subtle as the sugar and the acids integrate, rendering the wine a fuller, richer drop. In fact, high levels of residual sugar in Riesling act as a natural preservative.
All of the above goes a fair way to explaining why Riesling is considered King of the Grapes. The best way to discover its brilliance is to drink it up. So jump over to Holm Oak’s range and try one for yourself. Holm Oak’s Riesling embodies all the wonders of this noble variety, with amazing aromatics of lime and jasmine, mineral characteristics on the palate and steely acidity all the way through to the very last aftertaste. We dare you not to get hooked.
One of Holm Oak’s most popular white wines is the Arneis – have you tried it? It’s a north Italian variety from Piedment and Holm Oak holds the title of being the ONLY winery growing and producing it in Tasmania. We love crafting a unique wine that offers a different drinking experience compared to all the other well-loved varieties sitting on cellar door shelves in Australia.
Holm Oak’s Arneis vineyard is only 400 vines strong – so we don’t have a huge amount to produce but what we do make is fantastic. Only about 40 wine producers in Australia grow and produce this variety – it’s grown in cool climates, such as the King Valley with its high proportion of Italian families favouring this Italian variety, the Mornington Peninsula and the Adelaide Hills. Arneis thrives particularly well in Tasmania because this thick-skinned variety can stand up to the frost and other fungal diseases that result from our excessive amounts of rain in our very cool climate.
Traditionally wine writers describe Arneis as having peach and almond characteristics, but when it’s grown in our cool-climate Tassie backyard, it displays more zesty citrusy traits, like grapefruit, with floral aromas in a leaner, fruit-driven style.
We’d describe this wine as a cross between Riesling, with its mineral flinty acidity, and Sauvignon Blanc, with its rich texture. It displays a chalky tannin structure and high acidity levels, which makes it an ideal food wine. Team it with fresh seafood, flathead, prawns or creamy pastas and you’ll be coming back for more.
TEAM HOLM OAK’S ARNEIS WITH THIS DELICIOUS PRAWN RECIPE
Chili, Lime & Coriander Prawns*
11/2 cups coriander leaves
1/4 cup peanut oil
garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 stem lemongrass, bruised, thinly sliced
2 small red chillies, deseeded, thinly sliced
2 limes, juiced
1kg green king prawns, peeled (tails left intact), deveined
Lebanese cucumbers, deseeded
2 avocados, peeled, diced
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Limes, to serve
Finely chop 1/2 cup coriander leaves. Combine chopped coriander, oil, garlic, lemongrass, chillies and 1/4 cup lime juice in a ceramic dish. Add prawns and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate, stirring once, for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours if time permits).
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel long thin strips from cucumbers. Combine cucumber, avocado, remaining coriander leaves and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat a greased barbecue plate on medium-high heat. Remove prawns from marinade. Barbecue for 1 to 2 minutes each side or until pink and just cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Arrange prawns and cucumber salad on plates. Serve with steamed rice and limes. And enjoy with a glass of Holm Oak’s Arneis.
*Thanks to taste.com.au for the recipe inspiration.
We are those parents – the personalities of our children Will and Max are so uniquely different that we often wonder how we managed to generate two such different children. But we love and celebrate their differences. And a few years ago, when we were experimenting with whole bunch ferments of two different Pinot Noir clones, the similarities between the genetic material of wine grapes and the human species were not lost on us. So we decided to name the resulting two distinctively different wines after our boys, Will and Max (I'll let you guess which one is which...).
But before naming the wines, in 2013 we carried out a few whole bunch ferment trials with two different clones of Pinot Noir to see what alchemy would come about. It was the first year we had a decent crop off 6 year old115 vines. We had tried 100% whole bunch ferments before but without much success. In one of our previous attempts with these ferments, we managed to make compost – Tim burnt his feet “foot treading” it because it had reached 50C degrees in the middle of the ferment!
But when get knocked down, we get up again. After seeking counsel from winemaker friends, we decided to have another go. Thankfully, the vinous stars aligned and we were successful. We found ourselves with one barrel each of the two different clones. The wines were treated exactly the same way, with same production methods, but they have resulted in wildly different drops – a bit like our two sons. Same genetic material – two different results.
We considered blending these two barrels of wine into other Holm Oak wines but they tasted so unlike anything we’d previously produced that we threw caution to the wind and bottled them separately as different wines. Given their similarities in character traits to our children, we referred to the wines as Will and Max throughout the winemaking process, but in an effort to reflect the wines’ authentic character traits in a more convincing way, we named them The Perfectionist and The Menace.
Max, our first child, is so set on every single detail being perfectly correct that we labelled his wine The Perfectionist; our second child, Will, is a wild child who gets away with behaving badly due, in part, to his cheeky grin. His label is The Menace.
A friend of ours (JL or Jason Lawrence) illustrated the labels for us – we absolutely love the individual characters. These wines will be sold as a twin-pack only because Max and Will are always together, regardless of their opposing personalities.
2013 The Perfectionist Pinot Noir
The perfectionist is named and made in honour of our first child, Max. Doesn’t like anything out of place. Good at sport and school. A little reserved, but sharp as a tack. Much like Max, this is the perfect example of whole bunch Pinot Noir.
100% whole bunch
265 bottles produced
2013 The Menace Pinot Noir
This wine is made and named in honour of our second child, Will. A little bit on the wild side, this is the child who gets away with behaving badly because he has that cheeky grin and uncanny knack of producing a witty one-liner. Much like Will, these vines and this wine behaved badly, but it has managed to get away with it through its charm and vibrancy.
100% Whole Bunch
263 bottles produced
Fans of Holm Oak may have stumbled upon our Ilex Pinot Noir – it’s our delicious everyday drinking red. Like a fair whack of our wines, this one is stamped with a curious moniker, the Ilex. So what is the Ilex and what is its connection to Holm Oak? Here, we explain a little about the fascinating history of our Tamar Valley property and the people who came before us, all the way back to the late 19th century.
But let’s start with the main character in this tale – his name is Alexander North and he had a thing for trees. He was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1858, but at age 27, he left the safety of his homeland for the undeniable call of the colony down under, namely Hobart.
After arriving in Australia in 1885, Alexander built up his career as an architect. His reputation grew enormously, and he garnered a reputation as an exceptional church architect. Among his admired designs is the Holy Trinity church in Launceston, as well as a large chapel for Trinity College, University of Melbourne.
If you look at his designs, you’ll discover that Alexander had a penchant for native timbers, particularly Tassie oak, and he depicted native flora and fauna in his decorative woodwork designs, replacing the stuffy old English styles of emblems and motifs with art nouveau expressions of eucalyptus leaves and waratahs, as well as possums, bandicoots and platypuses. Alexander also wrote books about Australian ferns and forestry, and was secretary of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Forest League.
From our research at Holm Oak, it seems Mr North’s creative displays of botanical designs were inspired by the property on which his home was built. So where was his home? Right here, at Holm Oak! Back in the day when Federal land was being granted to citizens by the government, Alexander acquired one of the 100-acre blocks in the north Tassie Rowella region at the beginning of the orchard boom. By this time, Alexander was married and needed a roof over his and his wife’s head.
So Alexander built the handsome gabled house known as Holm Lea on the property (unfortunately it was subdivided off and now belongs to our neighbours) and later, his son Eric, who was a trained agriculturist, managed the planting of the many orchard trees on the property.
Alexander’s passion for botany and European trees is evidenced in the planting of a very fine group of oaks, scarlet oaks and silver birch all over the original estate, many of which are still standing today.
Alexander didn’t stop there. His knowledge of European trees was applied to the plantation of English ash at Hollybank, a property near Lilydale in north-east Tasmania. Why did he plant these trees whose wood happens to be particularly hardy and elastic? Tennis, that’s why. The plan was that Alexander would harvest these trees for the manufacture of tennis racquets.
As a result, Ash Plantations Ltd was formed in 1933 to supply the Alexander Patent Racquet Company of Newstead. North was a shareholder in this company and wholeheartedly endorsed the venture.
‘I consider this property to be almost ideal for the growth of English Ash Trees … I venture to predict that if ever a plantation is set out, the sheltered valleys will grow ash trees of gigantic proportions.’
But alas, those gigantic proportions were never realised. As the year 1940 came to an end, anxiety loomed over the slow growth of these ash trees. What to do? Analyse the soil and interplant alternative ash species in an attempt to boost growth. But costs continued to rise and the trees never grew to sufficient heights for the timber to be harvested. In 1950, the tough decision was made by Alexander to discard the project and sadly, no racquets were ever made from his trees.
The good news is that the Alexander Patent Racquet Company, on the corner of Abbott and Wentworth streets in Launceston, procured timber from other sources and in the 1930s and 1940s, thrived, making tennis racquets, as well as cricket bats, badminton and squash racquets, furniture, wooden bicycle rims and, during World War II, ammunition boxes. It no longer operates but the pieces from this factory can be found all over the country.
So what happened to the Holm Oak property? Alexander North’s daughter, Mrs Reid Bell, was a respected landscape water colourist. After Mr North’s death, she turned Holm Lea into a small convalescent house for the elderly. Upon her death, the property took on a flavour of the vinous variety – it was sold to Justice Edward Butler, who, along with his son Nicholas, planted Holm Oak vineyard’s first vines (pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon) in 1983. The first wines were made by the Butlers in 1987 and in 1991, Riesling was planted.
In 2004, the property was purchased by Bec Duffy’s parents Robyn and Ian Wilson, then Tim and I bought it from them in 2013, and the rest, as they say, is (our winemaking) history…
But what of the Ilex? This superhero-sounding name is the Latin word for the holm oak genus or evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) – the magnificent trees that still grace our property, planted by Alexander North all those years ago. Perhaps by osmosis, Alexander’s passion for botany has been transferred to us, the current owners of Holm Oak, and has come to life in our passion for nurturing Tassie grapes that are crafted into beautiful cool-climate wines. Oh, and we don’t mind the odd game of tennis but the racquets have moved into the 21st century – no timbre frames here. Just graphite or carbon fibre. And we’re happy to leave the production of those materials to the professionals…
Are you considering travelling to the Tamar Valley for your next getaway? If so, yippee! Don’t forget to drop into Holm Oak’s cellar door while you’re here. We’ve done the research on where to stay in our valley – from hotels to bed and breakfasts, there’s an accommodation option to suit all travellers. Take a look at Holm Oak’s top accommodation tips.
Picture this: you’re sitting on the rotunda of this picturesque accommodation estate with a glass of Holm Oak’s Pinot Noir in hand, enjoying the jaw-dropping views of Beauty Point and its magical surrounds. This place offers visitors three beautiful self-contained Federation cottages designed to take advantage of the Tamar River views. King beds, corner spas, welcome breakfasts – it’s a menu for a beautiful weekend of old-world charm.
If modern is more your style, book a room at Rosevears Hotel, just 20 minutes from Launceston. There are 26 contemporary hotel suites – one- and two-bedrooms, plus spa suites, with king-sized beds and spectacular floor-to-ceiling views of the Tamar River. The on-site restaurant serves delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Immerse yourself in vineyard life by staying in this renovated 1940s farm cottage. Perched on 140 acres of vineyard and grazing land, 35km from Launceston and five minutes from Exeter and Beaconsfield, this rustic cottage affords gorgeous views of the working farm. Wake up to rural beauty and serenity while digging into your gourmet breakfast hamper of muesli, yogurt, local fruit, bread and homemade jams.
This farm stay accommodation is situated in Glengarry in the beautiful West Tamar Valley. It’s a working pig farm that produces artisan bacon, pork and sausages and you can stay in its on-site guest accommodation – and sample its wonderful gourmet produce while you’re there! Visit the pigs and the chooks, barbecue Langdale Farm snags and pop open a bottle of Holm Oak’s Ilex Pinot Noir.
If visual aesthetic and design are up your alley, book a room at the Hatherly Birrell Collection featuring contemporary artwork, architectural and design elements in its accommodation options. With more than 40 design awards between them, owners Rebecca and Jack Birrell are a graphic design and architect duo, who have developed this accommodation, art and design fusion as an expression of their design practice. Choose from self-contained pavilions with outdoor spas, La Petite Chambre Matisse, which is a room housed in the magnificent 1830s mansion Hatherly House, and a city-style apartment right in the centre of Launceston.
Most drinkers would have been introduced to Cabernet Sauvignon somewhere along their wine journey. Why? It’s one of the most widely planted varieties in the world. From its sacred home in France’s Bordeaux to Lebanon, California, New Zealand and Australia, Cabernet weaves its magic wand over wine drinkers everywhere with its va-va-voom body (Kim Kardashian of the wine world?), its soaring tannins and ‘here I am’ acidity.
Cabernet Sauvignon was born as a result of a happy accident – in 17th Century southwestern France, Cabernet Franc jumped into bed with Sauvignon Blanc and they made a Cabernet Sauvignon baby. This relatively new variety has risen exponentially since its arrival on the wine scene because it’s incredibly easy to grow. Its skin is thick, its vines are tough and its berries bud late, avoiding nasty Jack Frost and his destructive ways.
So what does a classic Cab Sav smell and taste like? As is the case with most varieties, flavour profile is governed by climate and soil type, but let’s take a top-line approach. Its aromas span blackcurrant, mint and cedar to black cherry, olives, eucalyptus and menthol. Its robust flavour profile broadly covers blackcurrant, cassis and mulberry characteristics to herbal, minty, chocolatey, earthy notes, and that scandalous term “cigar box”.
In our cool-climate Tassie backyard, Cab Sav is all about blackcurrant, peppered by mint, cedar and menthol. Holm Oak’s Cabernet Sauvignon displays cassia characters with an added hint of chocolate, leather and tobacco. In SA’s Coonawarra, also a cool climate, Cab Sav grown from its hallowed terra rossa earth is a choc-mint flavour bomb, with typical blackcurrant notes and a happy savoury ending.
In moderate climates, blackcurrant is spiced with black cherry and olive; pump up the temperature to the max in even warmer climates and currant flavours can swing towards the over-ripe “jammy” spectrum.
But for every Cab Sav on the shelf, there’s a Cabernet blend right next door. You see, winemakers can’t help themselves. Sandwiched in between Cab Sav’s lovely upfront fruit and aromas, and its solid finish at the tail end is often a dip in flavour – the middle palate needs a boost. And that boost comes in the form of another variety.
Meet Merlot, Cabernet’s dance partner. This traditional variety of Bordeaux is juicy, fleshy and alluring. Who wouldn’t want to do the tango with this inky blue-skinned variety? Cabernet’s austere nature melts under the influence of Merlot. Holm Oak’s version of Cabernet Merlot is medium in weight, pure in fruit flavour (raspberry and blackberry) with a fleshy and smooth palate.
Let’s not rule out blending other varieties with Cab Sav, including its parent Cabernet Franc, and its fellow heavy-hitter Shiraz. In a typically Aussie bolshie move, winemakers here blend Cab Sav with Shiraz despite this fusion being forbidden by French regulations. Blending the noble grape of Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon) with the noble grape of the Rhône (Shiraz) is a no-no in the French winemaking world.
But Aussie winemaker, and Penfolds Grange architect, Max Schubert didn’t get the memo. He blended Coonawarra Cabernet with Barossa Shiraz to craft Penfolds 60A. Some regard the 1962 vintage of this wine the greatest in our nation’s winemaking history. Blending these two varieties creates robust, complex wines of great ageing potential.
On its own or when paired with other varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon is a dignified variety but self-deprecating enough to know when it can be made better by its better half (or quarter as may be the case). Here’s cheers to Cabernet, our lioness of the wine wilderness.
Pinot ‘d’ Pig introduces the Piglets
Sometimes, life throws you lemons. I had two pelted at me a few months ago. They came in the form of two little piggies. Their names? Mayonnaise and Pinot Junior – oh, tone it down… I can hear your hearts melting from the corner of my pigpen in the Tamar Valley.
Once I was the only pig on the Holm Oak estate.
I made all the rules.
I ate all the apples.
I made the kids laugh while their parents sipped on Pinot Noir.
But Bec and Tim had to go and add to the family, didn’t they? One pig was not enough. But I’m a tough swine. When life throws you lemons, I follow the rules of the leader of the modern world. Not that orange-faced Trump card – I’m talking about Beyoncé. I make Lemonade.
So allow me to introduce you to the Holm Oak homies – Pinot Junior, my pink and brown doppelganger, and Mayonnaise, the brown-hued piglet. They’re sweet really. They’re miniatures, so they’ll never reach my stature, both physically and figuratively. I’ll put them to work as soon as Bec and her boys release them from their cotton wool enclosure.
I’ve been General Manager for years now – my sweat and tears have marked the land on which we produce these great Tassie wines. The time has come to hand the reins to the next generation. So Pinot Junior and Mayo, get ready. You’re up next.
Now excuse me while I finish my book, Animal Farm.
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