With Lowestoft scooping the pool with trophies for the best Pinot Noir at both the 2022 and last year’s Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, at the National Wine Show of Australia, and winning Best Pinot Noir of the Year at the recent James Halliday Wine Companion Awards, people are starting to wonder where this newcomer Tassie label has appeared from, seemingly out of nowhere. Read on…!
Lowestoft is the Tasmanian string to the Fogarty Wine Group’s bow, whose Australian beginnings date back to the mid-1800s when Patrick Fogarty arrived in Tasmania. Fitting then that the family has returned, so to speak, to the Apple Isle.
The grand house – or ‘stoft’ – at Lowestoft was built by Thomas Lowes who arrived in the 1820s, in the image of that of Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris. It sits high on a hill overlooking the Derwent River and across to Mona and Lowestoft Bay and these days, in what was once the front garden, lies a fabulous 3-hectare close-planted vineyard of old vine Pinot Noir planted in 1986 by the then owner Bernard McKay from Moorilla Estate cuttings. Previous to the current ownership the fruit went in various directions; Bream Creek and Heemskirk to name a few. The best of these old-vine-plantings make up the top ‘La Maison’ Pinot Noirs, augmented with fruit from growers’ vineyards in the Estate wines.
It’s clearly a very special site, which is why when Liam McElhinney was approached to get involved, he made up his mind pretty quickly to do so. Liam is a cool-climate winemaking expert with previous experience at New Zealand’s Marisco, Te Pa and Trinity wineries, as well as working in France, Canada and the United States, and has already achieved phenomenal success with Lowestoft; the 2020 La Maison Pinot Noir winning Best Pinot of the Year at the recent James Halliday Wine Companion Awards 2023, as well as Top Gold and the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the National Wine Show of Australia 2022, and Best Pinot Noir and the James Halliday Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards in 2021.
Lowestoft has exploded on the scene as a producer of superlative Pinot, however the label also encompasses exceptional cool-climate Chardonnay and superlative sparkling wines, with recent reviews awarding points in the high nineties across the ranges.
Labelled by Huon Hooke as ‘one of the most exciting new brands to emerge from cool-climate Australia this year’, we remain convinced that the best is yet to come!
NV Reserve Brut (2017 base) RRP $80
Hand-picked and whole bunch pressed, cool fermented in stainless steel. Blended from two vintages, with the inclusion of five-year-old reserve wine in the liqueur d’expedition.
Bright citrus blossom and stone fruit aromatics are tightly woven by a silver thread of mineral precision. Rich flavours of toasted sourdough, almond and white cherry bounce around the palate on the finest of bead and seamless acidity – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft Estate
60/40% pinot noir/chardonnay; 40/30/30% Tasman Peninsula/Huon Valley/Coal River Valley. The Fogarty Group has established Lowestoft as a serious player in Tasmanian still wines and its first foray into the sparkling world meets the same aspiration, not least thanks to the consulting of Natalie Fryar. This is an intricately assembled blend that achieves just the right balance between clean, cool, zesty fruit and the nutty, patisserie allure of lees age. The red apples and strawberries of pinot noir are well melded with the lemon zest of chardonnay. 91 points. Tyson Stelzer, Halliday Wine Companion 2023
2017 Sparkling Rosé RRP $89
The Pinot Noir fruit was hand-picked and whole bunch pressed. Pale salmon-coloured juice was fermented cool in stainless steel tanks, to preserve freshness and purity. A small portion of Pinot Noir wine is included in the liqueur d’expedition, adding richness and complexity. This wine spent 44 months on lees. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
There’s something mighty compelling about the texture and perfume of 100% pinot noir sparkling rosé in Tasmania, seldom achieved outside of the A-list of Piper’s River. For Lowestoft to attain it in southern Tasmania is a staggering achievement in itself, to do it on their first attempt is monumental. No surprise that Natalie Fryar is in the wings! Delightful, spicy, lively berry fruits deliver crunch and tang, impeccably framed by the creamy texture of lees age. Outstanding line, length and sheer bountiful joy. 95 points. Tyson Stelzer, Halliday Wine Companion 2023
2016 Grand Reserve RRP $107
Hand-picked and whole bunch pressed, only the premium cuvée is retained for Grand Reserve. A small portion of the juice was fermented in seasoned French oak to elevate richness and texture in the final blend. This wine was matured on lees for 56 months. On the nose this wine shows purity and complexity, exemplified with minerality, wet slate and notes of oyster shell and fresh cashew. An intriguing palate of toasty brioche and malt biscuit, with hints of white mushroom, intertwining with fresh acidity and a fine bead to provide balance. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
A newcomer with a 3-digit price tag is a bold play and Lowestoft answers every reservation in its inaugural Grand Reserve. The fruit of a single, cool, coastal site on the Tasman Peninsula, this is an elegant and graceful cuvée of pale straw hue. At 6 years of age, primary, crunchy red apple and lemon fruit uphold impressive stamina, beautifully backed by the creamy texture and spicy, toasty allure of lees age. With plenty of endurance tucked into its folds, it will take a good few years in the cellar in its stride. 95 points. Tyson Stelzer, Halliday Wine Companion 2023
2019 Chardonnay RRP $80
Matured in large-format French oak for ten months (35% new). Selected best barrels from fruit sourced in the Tamar Valley, Coal River Valley and the Tasman Peninsula. Pale colour with flecks of green. The nose is ethereal and lemon waxy. Framed by notes of white blossom and hints of chipped shell and complex minerality. On the palate a revelry of fresh grapefruit and citrus zest is framed by aromas of cashew nut, toasted oak and baking spice. Powerful yet understated – a wine with a long future. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
Launching Tasmania’s most exciting new premium label, the Fogarty Group sure has hit the ground running. This is pitch-perfect chardonnay that embraces the generosity of a warm season and frames it intricately in crystalline acidity, top-class oak and just the right whiff of struck-flint reduction. Masterfully assembled and a joy to taste for the first time. 96 points. Tyson Stelzer, Halliday Wine Companion 2023
2018 Pinot Noir RRP $80
Matured in large-format French oak for ten months (35% new). The first wine produced under the Lowestoft label using fruit from Lowestoft, a nearby Derwent Valley vineyard, and select fruit from the Huon Valley and Coal River Valley. The wine has a lovely lift and reveals layers of dark powerful fruit nuanced by hints of earth and red berry. Evocative and complex all at once. The palate is powerfully fruited yet reveals a super fine and juicy tannin structure. Raspberry pip tannins carry the palate long, and perfect natural acidity ensures the wine is fresh and rewards cellaring. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
2019 Pinot Noir RRP $80
Small parcels hand-picked from our prestigious vineyards in the Lower Derwent, were fermented separately in open-top fermenters with up to 25% whole bunch fruit included. Gentle hand plunging and occasional pump-overs produced bright concentrated colour and lifted perfume. Matured individually in large format French oak (30% new) for 10 months prior to blending and bottling with minimal fining and filtration. Fragrant anise and five spice aromas traverse a nose of black cherry, pomegranate and brambly undertones. A structured palate protrudes layers of spice mingling with a concentrated core of dark plum and rich morello cherry, providing texture and persistent length. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
SINGLE VINEYARD WINES
2019 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $107
25% whole bunch, Matured in large-format French oak for ten months (30% new). From a single block, small single vineyard in the Tasman Peninsula. Lifted perfume of dried cranberry, dark cherry and pomegranate fruits threaded seamlessly with exotic spice, cinnamon, star anise and earthy sandalwood tones. The palate is luminous with layers of complex dried red fruits and savoury spice framed with precision acid lines and plush powdered cocoa tannins. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
Gorgeous aromatic perfumed opening on the nose. This comes from a single Tasmanian vineyard on the Tasman Peninsula. The nose shows spicy cherry and raspberry character with slightly limestone, chalky characters merging with captivating spices. Has such beautiful tannins which almost glow in the dark as they carry the palate effortlessly forward to a long finish. The use of large-format oak contributes to the balance and integration. Combines texture and precision (best drinking: Now to 2029). 94 points. Ray Jordan, The West Australian
LA MAISON WINES
2019 La Maison Pinot Noir RRP $140
Produced from the close-planted (8,300 vines per hectare) vines at Lowestoft planted in 1986. The fruit was hand-picked and matured in large-format French oak (35% new) for ten months. Brooding dark cherry and plum aromas evolve in the glass, ultimately revealing a lifted, sweet perfume of redcurrant, raspberry, dried thyme and subtle oak spice. Richly layered dark fruits provide a dense core with earthy undertones, Christmas cake and sweet tea driving vibrancy and length. A beautifully structured wine showing both power and finesse. – Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
Combines all the best elements of great pinot – elegance, precision, subtle finesse and a fine acidity. On the nose, plum and raspberry notes with darker cherry notes emerge. The palate is super intense with a deep, concentrated core. Yet it delivers with so much of that pinot finesse. Richly layered dark fruits provide a dense core with earthy undertones, Christmas cake and a tea-like character bring life and length (best drinking: Now to 2035). 97 points. Ray Jordan, The West Australian
2020 La Maison Pinot Noir RRP $140
A very dry winter led into a wet spring, which allowed for great bud burst and canopy growth. A cool vintage with high wind saw low yields producing fruit with incredible intensity of flavour and colour. Fruit from the famed Lowestoft Vineyard was hand-picked and fermented in 1T open-top fermenters, with up to 50% whole bunch inclusion. Gently hand plunged as required throughout fermentation, with gentle pressing to tank post MLF. Ten months maturation in large format French oak (25% new) before careful blending and bottling with minimal additions. Enticing amaro and exotic spice unfold layers of red berry fruit, sage leaf and wild thyme A richly structured palate with cherry fruit, dried cranberry and wet earth surround a mineral core, with vivacious juicy acidity flowing through the palate. A savoury, mineral edge bridges complexity with vibrancy.– Liam McElhinney, Lowestoft
Best Pinot Noir of the Year, James Halliday Wine Companion Awards 2023
Top Gold and the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the National Wine Show of Australia 2022
The James Halliday Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards 2021
Lowestoft Vineyard; up to 50% whole bunches; gentle hand plunging; matured 10 months in 25% new large-format French oak. The 2020 vintage secures Lowestoft among Tasmania’s A-league, but it’s going to be a long time before the full magnificence of its flagship is realised. The coiled potential on display here is something to behold, with pristine and precise black and red cherry fruit intricately woven with the perfumed allure of whole bunches and the fine-grained framework of top-class French oak. Brilliant. 96 points and ‘Pinot Noir of the Year’. Tyson Stelzer, Halliday Wine Companion 2023