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Meet Anthony Woollan of Nocton Vineyards

Tasmania’s Coal River region produces some of Australia’s finest cool climate wines. We chat with Anthony Woollan, general manager of Nocton Vineyards, whose N1 Pinot Noir 2013 is our Wine of the Month.

What is it about Tasmania’s Coal River Valley region that makes it such a great region for producing Pinot Noir?

The Coal River’s 200 million-year-old soils have the ability to produce that combination of power and grace which is so celebrated in the world’s other top Pinot regions.

What other varietals do you produce?

Chardonnay, of course, plus a particularly textural style of Sauvignon Blanc. On the rich clays in the upper part of the vineyard, we have Merlot which traditionally loves those heavier, cooler soils. Just a few weeks ago, we planted a brand new small block of Chenin Blanc on limestone near the cellar door. As far as we know, they’re the only Chenin Blanc vines in Tasmania, so watch this space. They will be joined this winter by some Cabernet Franc as a perfect partner for the Merlot.

What makes the Nocton Vineyard N1 Pinot Noir 2013 stand out from the crowd?

In general, 2013 wasn’t an outstanding year in the region, but occasionally there are some vineyards that can still produce top wines in lesser years. If there is a time that I feel most proud of what Nocton can do, it is in those vintages.

In our Wine Selectors 2018 Calendar we’ve matched your Nocton Vineyard N1 Pinot Noir 2013 with salmon glazed with ponzu, mirin and sesame oil – what is your favourite food match?

In 2003, the incomparable pairing of Ben Canaider and Greg Duncan Powell wrote – “Apparently, it is now a federal Australian law that Pinot can only be served with duck. Crap!”. Sometimes though, clichés do ring true. The trick with Pinot is first to match it with fat; then to flavour intensity. Salmon is fatty, rump steak is fatty and duck is fatty. However, for this wine, I think slow roasted pork belly, cooled and fried with Chinese five-spice.

Matched Recipe: Plank Salmon

How is vintage 2018 looking?

The best ever! Aren’t they all?

What is your all-time favourite wine memory (other than a wine itself)?

So many…some repeatable; some not! The first time I drove through the Côte d’Or seeing names on signposts that I’d only ever seen on expensive bottles of Burgundy was special. So was waking up on the first morning to a view of my own vines. I think the most satisfaction I get is from being in a restaurant somewhere a long way from Tasmania and watching a complete stranger drinking and enjoying my wine on the next table.

Other than your own wine, what is the wine that you like to drink at home?

The next one. That is not as glib or facetious as it first sounds. I know that if I don’t think the next bottle I open is going to be the best wine I’ve ever tasted, then I’m in the wrong job.

What is your ultimate food and wine match?

How long have you got? Sancerre and rabbit; blanc de blanc Champagne and pork rillettes; Chianti Riserva and spit-roasted woodcock; young red Burgundy and suckling pig; Tassie bubbles with Tassie oysters: eat and drink whatever is on the local menu and it will work, but great company is still the best ingredient.

What do you do to relax away from the winery?

Eat and drink, and spend time with my awesome daughters.

Your must-do for visitors to the Coal River Valley?

Start at one end and work your way to the other, tasting as many things as possible.

What is your favourite…

Book?

Anything by Terry Pratchett.

Movie?

Four Weddings and a Funeral. I went to see it after my first Tasmanian vintage in 1994.

I was a long way from home at the time and it made me laugh, cry and everything in between. It still does.

TV show?

Mash. Apparently, it went on for four times as long as the Korean war. It just goes to show that good things can come even from something as terrible as war.

Restaurant?

Tetsuya, Fat Duck; Espai Sucre in Barcelona (such theatre,) and so many others. However, there is a little place on a terrace halfway up Mt Ventoux in the Southern Rhône: no menu, no wine list, no choice, (no advertising:) you sit down, eat, drink and leave. It is always fabulous – the wine is local and good, and complements the food, and in some inexplicable way, it’s perfect. Not the only one either…a fish restaurant in Agios Nikolaos in Crete, the old seafood shack on the beach at Sanlúcar da Barrameda in Portugal (long gone, unfortunately) or Betjeman’s in Smithfield, London, that used to serve cheap bottles of Claret with the best steak sandwich in the world.

Breakfast?

Truffled scrambled duck eggs – there has to be some decadence.

Lunch?

Curried scallop pie – it is the national dish of Tasmania.

Dinner?

Surprise me! (Okay, it’s a quote from Ratatouille).

Time of day/night?

Dawn. I see a lot of them and they are always full of promise.

Sporting team?

The Wallabies

Beer?

Yes.

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If you enjoy wine enough to purchase through Wine Selectors, you know enough about wine to broaden your horizons. Have an open mind, ignore the name, even set up a blind tasting with friends, and just take the wine for what it is – it’s much easier to remember Saperavi or Bianco d’Alessano when you’ve had a great experience with them.

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