For the past 20 years, Bay of Fires Winery has released its annual vintage to expectant fans. Here’s how their second decade of decadence decants.
Tasmanian wine has plenty to say for itself. Australia’s island state is the perfect venue for cool climate wines. There’s enough sun for the vines to ripen but it stays cool enough – especially overnight – for acids to accumulate and metabolise sugars.
This is what helps develop wine structure and balance its acidity and sweetness.
But that’s only a part of the battle. Everything else is down to the skill, experience, intent and intellect of the winemakers themselves.
Thankfully for Bay of Fires – a winery set in the beautiful northeast of Tasmania – they have Penny Jones as their chief winemaker. From her guiding hand, Bay of Fires has released its twentieth vintage, one of the only really good things to come from 2020.
But this release is yet another great example of what Australia’s finest cool-climate wine region.
Bay of Fires Winery – where do the grapes grow?
Bay of Fires Winery hand-harvests fruit from a few points on the Tasmanian map.
Grapes come predominantly from the Tamar Valley, Coal River Valley and Derwent Valley regions, but also the long thin East Coast Region.
Each region has been carefully selected for its geography and climate depending on the variety of grape.
Whenever we’ve been to Tasmania, we’ve always been struck by the difference in the produce there. Its freshness, its fullness, its general wholesomeness. It seems that whatever grows in Tas grows better.
That includes the state’s grapes.
Bay of Fires 2020 – their 20th annual release
Along with incredible fruit, the Bay of Fires 2020 vintage also carries the winery’s signature ‘funkiness’.
With judicious and patient use of oak and lees, Penny Jones maintains this attribute throughout the 2020 release, giving the wine an excellent texture and structure.
Here’s the low-down:
Bay of Fires Chardonnay 2019 – $57.99 RRP
Fruit from East Coast and Tamar Valley regions
This is a ‘yin and yang wine’ – a beautiful balance of light peachiness and candied lemon against creamy lees and French oak.
A clever wine that you only really get from cool climate vineyards and top level wine crafting. Balanced, layered and very moreish.
Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2019 – $60.99 RRP
Fruit carefully selected small-batch parcels of Pinot grapes from across TAS’ viticultural region
A grape variety known not only for its complexity and beauty, but also its capricious nature, Bay of Fires has treated their Pinot Noir with the kid gloves it needs.
The result is a well-layered wine with great texture, funky spice and gentle tannin. This all shows off that red currant, subtle earthiness and long finish you want from this grape.
Bay of Fires Riesling 2020 – $45.99 RRP
Fruit from Coal River & Derwent Valley regions
Lime citrus, mineral nose and hints of Aussie wildflowers. A sharp grapefruit start balanced with a lees-rested creaminess and almost savoury funkiness.
The finish is long, refined and flinty – complex beyond this wine’s youth.
Bay of Fires Pinot Gris 2020 – $45.99 RRP
Fruit from Derwent, Tamar and Coal River Valley regions
This light varietal is often overlooked in favour of bigger flavoured white wines, but the Bay of Fires’ version has a deeper profile than most Pinot Gris.
From a technical standpoint, this wine has seen a lot of work, with most if its grapes cool-fermented in stainless steel and about 20% fermented warm in seasoned French oak barrels.
The result is a developed wine full of the peaches, crisp pears and rosewater you’d expect but also a bit of spice, a little funky flintiness and soft silky texture too.
Bay of Fires Sauvignon Blanc 2020 – $45.99 RRP
Fruit from Coal River, Derwent and Tamar Valley regions
Leading with passion fruit – but not to the level of a Marlborough SB – this wine offers its fans the flavour spectrum of toffee apple to lychee, with a touch of herbs and a crisp, sharp finish.
These wines are all available from major retailers and independent stores nationally.