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Flying the flag for Tassie sparkling

10 Nov 2017
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If the rise and rise of Tasmanian sparkling is tempting you to go south and tend a few vines, here’s a bit of advice from someone who has more than a little inside knowledge.

‘If you are coming down here to plant I would say do very thorough soil testing and really understand the site before you plant because the soils are so diverse that you really need to plant appropriate varieties and clones on specific sites’, said Jansz’s Jen Doyle.

Jen Doyle at Women in Wine Awards
Photo: Australian Women in Wine Awards

‘Understanding your soils and climate is key. Then it’s all fun. You get to play and learn the intricacies of it all.’

Jen has had both fun and success in the nine years since she headed down from New South Wales, via Western Australia, and this year she was named Viticulturist of the Year in the annual Australian Women in Wine Awards.

Wine Australia sponsored her award (one of the nine awards offered this year) and also co-sponsored a presentation event in London as part  of a day of Women in Wine trade and consumer tasting events in late September.

Jen has just returned to Tasmania – after taking a well-earned holiday with a little wine tasting in South Africa on her way home – where she is taking on an expanded role as Jansz Vigneron.

‘I’m making a gradual transition into Jansz’s winemaking; it’s a directional role in terms of influencing the style of sparkling wine that we grow and create. It’s sitting down with the winemakers and assessing each of the many batches of base wines made for our sparkling and creating a style that is synonymous with the Jansz name.’

Born in Willow Tree, an hour south of Tamworth (and very much not in wine country), Jen had her first winery experience grape sampling at Rosemount Estate as a holiday job while studying Rural Science at the University of New England.

But when her studies took her into the vineyard in a more scientific way, she was hooked.

‘The difference with other ag industries is it’s a product that you can follow to the end. It’s not just producing the raw product, selling it and it’s gone. I love being able to follow it all the way through, plus that element of art and science.’

- Jennifer Doyle

After graduating she spent eight years in the west as a viticulturist, in Pemberton then Margaret River, before returning east to work in Orange. But Tasmania called, with all its complexities.

‘When I first came here I had the view that Tassie was rolling green hills and wet and cool and it’s all of that in the north of the state but in the south it’s cool but it’s dry and it’s rugged and that’s where I began my viticulture experience in Tasmania.

‘It was in a drought year and it was a complete shock to me that it could be that dry. But from there I thought wow this is something to work with, it’s going to be interesting and it has certainly been that.

‘Historically in Tasmania yields have been quite variable because of the seasonal differences, but there are a lot of reasons for that. It’s climate but also the plant material that we have had available to us and we are working at improving those things. We’re also planting on rootstocks and focusing on micro-nutritional needs, which is helping us to iron out that variability in yield.’

Jen believes Tasmania’s sparkling wine reputation is increasing on the global stage as people understand its climatic aspects and the style of wines that can be produced there. And she is keen to offer even more.

‘My favourite style is blanc de blanc – I love the crisp linear acidity of it – and I’d like to play with that north and south Tassie difference in flavours. At the moment, we have a northern Pipers River blanc de blanc but I’d like to see a southern Coal River Valley version, which will have a more textural, savoury tone.’

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.