A local who sought education and experience on the mainland, it wasn’t long before Ricky Evans returned to Tasmania to take up a role at Bay of Fires (good breeding ground that – Peter Dredge, Fran Austin…) and launch his own micro-project that ended up taking up a macro amount of time. Starting with a lone pinot noir, Evans now crafts two ranges, with wines both singing familiar and less heard tunes. Classically styled pinot and chardonnay give way to a pair that push the whole-bunch boundaries, a textural and structured ‘orange’ white blend and a riesling with a talcy touch of gewürztraminer. Evans was the Young Gun of Wine People’s Choice winner for 2016.
Launched in 2013, Ricky Evans’ Two Tonne Tasmania label is unsurprisingly named after the couple of tonnes of pinot noir fruit that informed that first vintage. Literal stuff, but an ongoing reminder that this is a micro-operation, working with discreet parcels of carefully sourced and meticulously farmed fruit. As Ricky says, “Small parcels. Big love.” Thankfully, that’s something we’re seeing more and more of in Tassie, a far universe from the not so distant past when the state was dominated by a pair of contract winemakers.
Evans is a Tasmanian by birth, but he decamped to the mainland to study oenology at Adelaide University in 2005. He worked in the Barossa while he studied, then the Adelaide Hills after graduation, before heading to the Napa Valley, in California, in 2009. Landing back in his home state in 2010, Evans took a job at Bay of Fires, where he rose to a winemaking position under the stewardship of the legendary Ed Carr. During his tenure, he managed to travel to Germany, Piedmont and the UK (they make very fine sparkling wine there… really) for vintages.
As Evans’ Two Tonne project grew, the big winery gig was no longer a fit, with part-time consultancy work now filling the inevitable financial gaps in a young wine business. Given the demand for Tasmanian fruit, and its witheringly high price tag, Evans has some insulation by holding the lease on a vineyard on the Tamar (hitherto known as Three Wishes), and he has planted out a section of his family’s property at Swan Bay, in the East Tamar. He also makes wine on the property, though any estate fruit won’t be making it to bottle for some years to come.
Evans’ range is built around riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir, both in the Two Tonne line-up and the more accessible Ziggurat range, where he adds a dash of gewürztraminer to the riesling, and he also makes an orange wine from the two varieties with 20 per cent chardonnay. The “house style” pinot is early picked and about 25-30 per cent whole bunch with a small amount of new oak, while the ‘Dog and Wolf’ blends this style with a later picked 100 per cent whole-bunch component. “It expresses that limit between the familiar, the comfortable versus the unknown and the dangerous, between domestic and wild. …This wine is produced with all these elements in mind; it is a blend of two vastly different winemaking styles,” says Ricky. Its chardonnay sibling also includes a whole-bunch component, making for a wildly different take on the grape.