To anyone familiar with the early years of Tasmanian wine, the Delamere name will be well known, as will the brand’s fading over time. But much has changed, with Shane Holloway taking over the site in 2007. He has expanded the plantings and is now making some of Tasmania’s finest expressions of chardonnay and pinot noir in league with his wife, Fran Austin. Holloway was a two-time Young Gun finalist in 2009 and 2012.
Holloway had an early introduction to wine, with his parents planting a vineyard in the Adelaide Hills in 1991. And while that made somewhat of an impression, it didn’t steer him away from pursuing a career in marine biology and aquaculture. In 2001, while completing some postgraduate research in Tasmania, Holloway took on some vintage cellar work to pay the bills. It wasn’t long before wine won the day, and he switched disciplines, studying a postgraduate winemaking degree, before gaining experience back in the Adelaide Hills, the Yarra Valley and in Oregon, USA.
Tasmania remained the prime interest, however, and when the mature Delamere Vineyard came on the market in 2007, Holloway jumped at the chance. Delamere is one of Tasmania’s pioneering vineyards, and one of the first in the north-eastern Piper’s Brook region. Planted in 1981 to rich ironstone soils, the vineyard is comprised solely of chardonnay and pinot noir, with vines densely arrayed at 7,500 plants per hectare. In 2013, the vineyard was doubled in size, with Holloway adding four new clones of chardonnay and three of pinot noir.
Holloway’s not the only winemaker on site, though, with his wife Fran Austin one of Tasmania’s most respected makers. She left Bay of Fires in 2011 after nine years at the helm to commit all her time to the family operation, with the pair sharing the winemaking duties.
Piper’s Brook is a region that has been celebrated for sparkling wine production, with the cool conditions, ample sunlight and long, even growing cycle ensuring intense fruit flavours allied to super-bright acidity. That dynamic is also suited to the styles of table chardonnay and pinot noir of today, with fragrance, brightness and tension now given their due accord.
Delamere make a suite of sparkling wines, and all using the traditional method, starting with two non-vintage wines, one a rosé. They also bottle four vintage wines, with a late disgorged sparkling at the top of the register, and at a price that is a direct challenge to elite Champagne. For table wines, chardonnay and pinot noir are bottled as single block wines or pan-estate blends, while non-estate fruit informs the Naissante range, allowing riesling and an oak-aged sauvignon blanc to join the ranks.