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Tasmania has certainly been in the nations hearts and headlines over the past months but there is another reason why the Apple Isle should be the focus of attention the quality of the 2006 grape harvest.
It has been an unusual and unpredictable year, which is expected to produce excellent quality cool climate wines.
This is one of the earliest vintages on record. Some blocks in the West Tamar region north of Launceston were picked in mid March, almost two months ahead of the timing in 2004 and one month ahead of average.
This phenomenon was not a result of the extreme early January heat, which did affect many of Australias grapegrowing regions. Rather, Tasmania experienced a warm spring with abundant rainfall and lavish growing conditions. This seems to have accelerated development in the more protected inland valleys especially in the north of the state.
First tasting impressions from tank are of some very good aromatic whites such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling, also the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sparkling bases. Reds seem slightly lighter than 2005 but with good perfume.
It is my belief that the super-premium 2006 Tasmanian wines, both white and red, will be distinguished by their softness and abundant flavour. The 2006 vintage adds another year to a consistent and better than average run in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005.