Sailor Seeks Horse

Sailor Seeks Horse Huon Valley, Tasmania.

This tiny vineyard is one of Australia’s most southerly located in the Huon valley in southern Tasmania. Paul and Gilli Lipscombe own the vineyard and make the wines and both have considerable vineyard and winemaking experience behind them. From working together in the Languedoc to New Zealand, Oregon and Margaret River they spent a lot of time researching and considering the best possible vineyard site with the aim  to produce Australia’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay finally settling on this ideal north facing vineyard which is sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds. Best described as a warm site within a cool climate, the soil is free-draining quartz inflicted mudstone soil over clay. The vineyard is planted to a large variety of Dijon clones as well as numerous other clones planted by the previous owners and all vineyard work is done as organically as possible.

So to the name, where does that come from? There was a handwritten sign on the wall at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, our local coffee and cake respite from the Tasmanian weather. It said, “Sailor Seeks Horse” and went on to explain that the author had sailed solo around the world and ridden across the US from coast to coast and back again…on a mule. He’d then decided he wanted to travel around Tasmania by horse but didn’t have one. So, was there anyone who would lend him one? If they didn’t have a horse then a pony would do. It was an idea that resonated with us. Here we were, trying to do something a little bit crazy, without much money and requiring a little bit of help to get to where we wanted to be.

2016 Chardonnay
Made from 4 clones of Chardonnay imported from Dijon in Burgundy.

‘The challenges in 2016 revolved around the lack of rainfall and the heat. It was dry. Really dry. And that’s always concerning when you have some reasonable yields and not much leaf area, especially when you’re dry-farmed. However, it also meant that we had natural concentration through small berries and rigorous fruit-thinning. We picked out first Chardonnay fruit on the 2nd April and things couldn’t have been easier in the winery. Stellar fruit, lovely wild ferments and no malolactic fermentation due to the acid balance – a busy but amazing vintage. Our 2015 Chardonnay was all about the minerality, the salinity and we weren’t sure if this was a vintage or a vineyard thing. The 2016 hints that it might be a vineyard thing. A different season and a slightly different acid structure but again it’s about the minerality. Length, intensity, structure.’ Gilli and Paul Lipscombe, winemakers.

2016 Pinot Noir
Made from tiny yields of about 900g per vine (equates to about 3.6 t/ha which is quite a bit less than Grand cru Burgundy vineyards which crop closer to 5 t/ha).

‘We saw slightly warmer ferments in 2016 combine with the ripe tannins and whilst there is still that savoury, earthy edge that threads its way through all our Pinots, this vintage is all about tannin structure and the length of those tannins. They’re easily the best tannins we’ve seen so far in our wines. They’re long, dense and supple. It’s a stellar year.’ Gilli and Paul Lipscombe, winemakers.

2015 Chardonnay

‘A young, dynamic Tasmanian couple who have aced their grape growing and now shifted attention to winemaking. They planted chardonnay to early ripening clones in 2010, and this is their first release. Fermented in various oak vessels and left to mature for a year or so then settled in stainless steel for three months before bottling. What a stellar release. Run, don’t walk. Tight, fine, tense, wonderful chardonnay. Taut and crisp. All flint and quartz, so flighty and fine. Sniff of sea spray, lick of saline character in the pure, lacy flow of green apply-grapefruit flavours. Electric acidity. Exceptional length. Has pure class written all over it. A modern incarnation of chardonnay with grape flavour at its core. Beautifully done.’ 94 points, Winefront, February 2017.

2015 Pinot Noir

‘Spicy, pepper, red currants and cranberry, leaner spectrum but fine. Palate way softer, spreads well but webbed in fine tannins, refreshing acidity, cherry fruitiness, amaro finish. So sleek and fine. Soft, beautiful.’ 94 points,  Feb. 2017.