Stargazer is ‘a tribute to Abel Tasman’ by winemaker Samantha (Sam) Connew, a New Zealander who now calls Tasmania home. Born on NZ’s South Island, Sam studied Law/Arts with majors in Political Science and English Literature, before turning her attention to wine, completing a postgraduate diploma in Oenology and Viticulture at Lincoln University in Canterbury. Sam began at ‘Wirra Wirra winery’ in McLaren Vale in 1999, working alongside Ben Riggs, becoming senior winemaker in 2001. After completing the ‘Advanced Wine Assessment Course’ at the Australian Wine Research Institute, Sam was chosen as a scholar for the ‘2002 Len Evans Tutorial’ (a rigorous five days of blind tastings). In 2007 Sam was named ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’ at the ‘International Wine Challenge’ in London. In 2009, she finished at ‘Wirra Wirra’ and moved on to ‘Tower Estate’ in the Hunter Valley. Despite saying that she would never have started her own wine label, she did just that! In 2012, she established ‘Stargazer’ in the Tea Tree sub-region of Coal River Valley, just north of Hobart. The climate makes it one of Australia’s coldest wine regions, though with less rainfall than might be expected, reducing the likelihood of disease issues (such as mildew). The vineyard, planted in 2004, grows Riesling and Pinot Noir, and in 2017 grew Chardonnay.
The Riesling shows a colour of pale straw with green tinges, orange rind, musk and ginger on the nose, and a generous mouthfeel with ‘talcy’ acidity. The oaked Chardonnay shows lemon zest, gunflint and hazelnut on the nose, with lemon curd on the palate, and a ‘sleek and streamlined’ mouthfeel. The Pinot Noir is the star of the line-up, having a bright ruby colour, cherry and rose aromas, and pomegranate, berry coulis on the palate, which will further develop in bottle if cellared for up to five years.
For more information on Stargazer and Samantha’s wines, head to the website.