The 34ha Nocton Vineyard, in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley, was planted in 1999 on gentle, north-east facing slopes of dolerite-based soils over a free-draining calcareous and Triassic sandstone subsoil. As in Burgundy, home to the great pinot and chardonnay vineyards of France, limestone runs through the valley and was mined in the early days. It is the combination of these soils and substrata that we believe imparts the great depth of colour and much of the character and texture typically displayed in our wines.
Tasmania has a cool maritime climate and, positioned as it is right in the path of the “roaring forties,” can offer up annual rainfalls that are measured in metres on the west of the island. However, contrary to popular myth (and the recent extreme events,) much of the eastern half of Tasmania has relatively moderate rainfall, especially in the south-east.
The Coal River Valley itself lies in a rain-shadow created by the Mount Wellington Range to the west. Here the rainfall pattern is often ideal, allowing for uninterrupted spring flowering and fruit set. At the other end of the season, the long, warm and dry autumn ripening days develop good colours and flavours while the cool nights help to retain Tasmania’s trademark acidity.
The vineyard is close-planted at only 1m between vines and 1.8m between rows, encouraging the vines to drive their roots more deeply into the soil in order to compete for water and nutrients. Pinot noir dominates (of course) with chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc playing a supporting role. Each block is managed according to its specific requirements and for a specific wine. For example, more vigourous areas lower down the vineyard are planted to clones of pinot that produce the large, juicy bunches best suited to our younger drinking Estate wines. Higher up and to the north, where the slope is a little steeper and the soils a little meaner, the pinot vines are of a type that yields small but perfectly formed bunches of intensely flavoured and beautifully structured grapes. It is these that are destined for the reserve wines that we stake our reputation on: wines that we hope are exceptional individual expressions of their birthplace.