Due to our limited travel budget, when we get a chance to do a large-scale tasting such as last January’s Pinot Days, we love checking out the wines from the really far out places – like Tasmania, Australia. So, of course, when Linda Kidwiler showed up at Pinot Days representing Frogmore Creek wines for their U.S. distributors, Michael made the proverbial bee line to her table and liked what he tasted.
Tasmania is an island about 200 miles south of the Australian continent, so it has a pretty cool climate, making it an excellent place to grow our favorite heartbreak grape – pinot noir. Not only is pinot noir the basis for the great wines of Burgundy, it’s also the main grape used in Champagne. (Remember, all grape juice is white. Red wines happen when the juice is soaked with the skins during fermentation. If you press the grapes and get the juice off the skins before your ferment it, the wine turns out white.)
The winemakers at Frogmore Creek do both straight up pinot noir and a bubbly or two.
“We are mostly sparkling wine,” Kidwiler said. “Our sparkling wine is our biggest seller.”
Frogmore Creek has been selling wines in the U.S. for about three years now. You’d think there might be a problem with people not knowing squat about Tasmania besides a Looney Tunes character. But Kidwiler said that the opposite seems to be true.
“I think that’s the reason we’ve been so successful,” she said. “Usually sommeliers know right away when they see ‘Tasmania’ and I get the appointment [to do a sales meeting] right away. And when a customer comes in and sees Tasmania on the menu, they get very enticed by that and say ‘I didn’t know Tasmania made a Pinot Noir’ and I think that’s one of the reason our sales have been so strong. And it’s also where the cleanest air and water is on the planet. It’s the exoticness of Tasmania. We don’t produce a big Pinot. More restrained and elegant – more French style than they do in Australia.”
The recent heavy rains in Australia will probably affect the winery, even though most of the rains hit northern Tasmania and the winery’s vineyards are in the south.
“Our business is really going to affected for Brisbane,” Kidwiler said – Brisbane was the hardest hit by the storms and flooding.. “We do a lot of our business there. We do most of our business in Australia, so we’ll have to see what happens there. We have some places there that sell a pallet of wine a week in Brisbane between right now during our summer. Especially our sparkling and we’ll have to see what happens but we’re going to be hit pretty hard.”
On the other hand, that could mean more Frogmore Creek wine will be available here in the U.S., a small ray of sunshine for us in an otherwise bleak outlook. You can go to the website, www.frogmorecreek.com/wines.html, and check the left-hand menu for the Where To Buy link to find out where in your area you can get Frogmore Creek wines.