Sailor Seeks Horse
Sailor Seeks Horse: Huon Valley, TAS
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.
2013 Pinot Noir
Made from tiny yields of about 850g per vine (equates to about 3.4 t/ha which is quite a bit less than Grand cru Burgundy vineyards which crop closer to 5 t/ha). Paul describes the vintage as follows; “Tasmania saw some very high temperatures this year (we had 15 days over 30 degrees and one over 40 in the Huon Valley). However, by delaying a light leaf-plucking on the morning side of the vines until much later in the season we avoided a lot of sunburn that could have accrued. There was a little on the weaker vines that didn’t have much leaf canopy due to their lack of vigour but all-in-all the vineyard coped admirably. Being so far south we ripen our grapes later than in most of the rest of Tasmania and this worked to our advantage. The high temperatures occurred just after flowering until when the berries were pea-sized. This meant our fruit wasn’t as affected by the heat as it could have been. The temperatures cooled off dramatically in mid-March and so we ended up harvesting later than normal (odd in the context of the year) as the actual ripening period from veraison to harvest was long and cool – ideal! This allowed flavours and phenolics to develop in harmony with sugar ripening and we were lucky to be able to pick at perfect ripeness. We suspect that 2013 will go down as a great year for Huon Valley Pinot Noir. Everything seems balanced in the wines but only time will tell.”
Good medium red. Musky, higher-toned aromas of raspberry liqueur and flowers; quite perfumed. Then fleshy and rich on the palate, with a saline complexity to the flavors of red raspberry, spices and flowers. Beautifully high-pitched, elegant and long.