We’re into the second year of our partnership with Joe and Lou Holyman, the wonderful Tamar Valley complement to the Derwent Valley wines of Stefano Lubiana. For this pretty much one-couple show – Joe has a part-timer helping in the vineyard, but that’s it – it’s become a multi-faceted release, albeit with most of the wines appearing in minuscule quantities. There’s a range of vintages on show, too. Long, cool 2017 will go down as one of the great harvests, Joe reckons. Slighter warmer ’18, which begat this Holyman Chardonnay, gave rise to delightfully approachable wines. And then a return to a long, cool vibe, ’19 is shaping up as a cracker, as five of these Stoney Rise wines attest.
That’s right, five. There’s a tiny dash of Grüner – now a decade old as a member of the Holyman portfolio. There’s a rare rerun of Chardonnay; not a staple of the Stoney Rise range, it’s an opportunistic yet altruistic effort. Topping the offering this year is the debut of the super-rare, tricky but terrific Trousseau. And joining the No Clothes Pinot Noir in the nakedly SO2-free space is an inaugural Pinot Gris.
And so to Holyman, where the Chardonnay is so scarce and coveted as to make it a virtual unicorn. This 2018 is joined by the two flagship Pinot Noir wines from ’17. Again from the 1986 plantings, the estate and ‘Project X’ Pinots will show you precisely why Joe and Lou were so fond of this harvest in their idyllic corner of the Apple Isle.
2019 Stoney Rise Grüner Veltliner RRP $35
This is our 10th vintage interpreting this Austrian grape variety. Our aim with this wine, as with all our others, is to show the varietal characters as well as the seasonal variances we get here in Tasmania. This version shows the usual characteristics of pear and almond on the nose. The palate has some pear as well as a hint of lime zest. The citrus character carries through to the finish which is equal to the zippy acidity from this fresh wine that has been bottled at only 11% alcohol. This needs a bit of time to settle, but by the time the weather warms and prawns are on the BBQ it will be ready to go. – Lou & Joe Holyman
2019 Stoney Rise Chardonnay RRP $35
We said we would never do it again but sometimes an opportunity comes that is too hard to turn down. This year we were offered some fruit form a 20-year-old vineyard just north of us on the West Tamar, then some from Relbia just south of us, and then a small amount from the south of the state. We couldn’t help but take it. It was fermented in our new 2500-litre oak cask and stayed there on its lees for the last five months. It’s a fresh style ready for summer. There’s a hint of banana peel and cantaloupe on the nose. The palate is all white peach with hints of lemon and cashew. There’s a viscous texture to the wine, but the hint of oak and natural acidity of Tasmanian Chardonnay balance this to give it a long, driven finish. Great with seafood rice paper rolls. – Lou & Joe Holyman
2019 Stoney Rise No Clothes Pinot Noir RRP $35
While this is not the first time we’ve made this wine, it’s nonetheless exciting for us. The 2019 wine is 100% grown on our newly planted (2014) vineyard. We picked three different parcels of fruit over 10 days and treated them the same before deciding that this one was the one that best suited our style. It’s a little more savoury this year, in keeping with our feeling that 2019 is an even more promising vintage than 2018. This has given the wine a bit more structure, while still keeping the freshness and vim of a fresh wine that hasn’t had any preservative added. A great wine served chilled with grilled salmon, with a beetroot and goat’s cheese salad. – Lou & Joe Holyman
2018 Stoney Rise Pinot Noir LUC RRP $35
Our 2018 Stoney Rise Pinot Noir is a 60/40 blend of fruit we grow and fruit we purchase from our small growers around the Tamar Valley. The 60% from our vineyard comprises just over half of the fruit from vines planted in 2004 and for the first time in 2018 there is a small percentage of fruit from our new 2014 plantings. The remainder comes from our older vines planted in 1986 – which is the component of the blend that gives this wine it’s structure and backbone.
This 2018 Pinot Noir goes back to the styles of the 2015 and ’16. There’s more obvious upfront fruit on the nose, with hints of pomegranate and bright red cherries. The palate is soft and luscious upfront, but then the dollop of old vine fruit takes over and you are left with a hint of tannin, some complementing acidity and a long finish. While it’s upfront and easy drinking, the 2018 with its poise and structure will reward with some time in the cellar. This is our favourite Stoney Rise since 2015. – Lou & Joe Holyman
This is a very strong release for Stoney Rise. Joe is back on top in 2018. Fresh cherry, strawberry, spice and aniseed, a bit of the old stone and graphite thing happening too. It’s cool and clear in fruit, fine dry tannin, a quiet succulence, yet keeps itself nice and trim with cranberry acidity crunch. It’s pretty long too, and in fact, the finish is particularly impressive, crisp and insistently tannic. Finesse combined with high drinking appeal. 94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front September 2019
2019 Stoney Rise Trousseau RRP $46
This is our first real release of this obscure variety from the Jura region of France. It’s a very vigorous variety and over the last five years we’ve found it hard to get it to produce fruit – but this year it did. One of the reasons we searched high and low around Australia to find this variety was that it has a great structure and a savoury finish that we think makes it perfect to accompany food. It does have some almost Pinot Noir-like cherry, aromas, but there’s an underlying clove-like flavour that sends it to food match heaven! There’s a labelling oversight from us, but we assure you there has not been any SO2 added to this wine. Drink it young or keep it for a couple of years in a cool cellar and watch it develop. – Lou & Joe Holyman
2018 Holyman Chardonnay RRP $57
The Chardonnay is from a single block planted in 1986. We do two picks: half is the first thing to come off the vines during harvest, and the other component is the last thing we bring in. The fruit is whole bunch-pressed into 100% new oak puncheons. As usual, we inhibited malolactic conversion as a matter of course. 2018 was a little warmer than 2017, yielding wines with a delicious early approachability. – Lou & Joe Holyman
It’s cool, very attractive, and lovely to drink. A water-coloured release with a grainy texture, highlights of citrus and zest, ginger biscuit oak in support, freshness, energy and good length, closing crisp and refreshing. Perhaps a little dismissive to say it’s so easy to guzzle, as it has plenty of sizzle and style too. 95 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front August 2019
2017 Holyman Pinot Noir RRP $57
Handpicked and sorted, this 100% estate-grown fruit comes from vines planted in 1986. Some 60% of the fruit goes into the fermenter as whole bunches. 30% of the wine is aged in new French oak to bring complex smoky elements complementing the vibrant red berries and chalky tannins. No fining or filtration and minimal sulphur. 2017 will go down as one of the great vintages down here. The season was long and not too warm, everything seemed to happen at the right time. – Lou & Joe Holyman
A strong vintage for Tasmanian Pinot Noir. Dark cherry, earth, mint, creamy clove spice oak. Only into medium bodied with shapely emery tannin and firm clean acidity, spicy cherry flavour, not a huge amount of flavour or density, it’s quite bony and lean, in fact. All structure over fruit weight, with a solid finish, tannin gripping firm and discreetly. It’s an intellectual style as at now, and pleasure and ease of drinking plays second fiddle to that. I suspect it’s a wine that will show well in, say, six years or so. 92+ points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front August 2019
2016 Holyman ‘Project X’ Pinot Noir RRP $90
100% estate-grown, single-block wine, from vines planted in 1986. The fruit for Project X comes from a block we like to call Boris. It’s all handpicked, and our well-trained pickers do all our fruit sorting in the vineyard. For this wine they only select perfect bunches with well lignified stalks allowing us to make this 100% whole bunch, 100% new oak wine. It was bottled without being fined or filtered.
One of the things I love about our whole bunch wines is that they always have less colour than our other wines and the fruit characters are always in the brighter fruits. Fresh raspberry and strawberry on the nose. The palate is clean and structured with the usual hints of Campari, with the underlying intensity of the stalk tannin. One to be cellared for many years. – Lou & Joe Holyman – Lou & Joe Holyman
This is doing it the hard way: a single small block is hand-picked, lignified stalks a prerequisite; this, and the fruit flavour intensity, allows 100% whole bunch fermentation and 100% new French oak. The bouquet is hyper-fragrant, and not the least dominated by oak, the fruit flavours brilliant. You are left to wonder how great the wine might have been if the alcohol had been 13%. 95 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2020
It’s 100% whole bunch with 100% new oak (puncheon). Red fruits, flowers, exotic spices, alpine herbs. Light in body, fresh and bony, red fruits and spice, lacy acidity, graphite tannin, a translucent character, Pinot Noir poured over river rocks, or something like that. Pulls bunchy and savoury on the finish, which is clear and long. Excellent, but needs time. 94+ points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front September 2018