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Tasmania seeks to tempt Champagne investors

Officials in Tasmania are seeking to persuade Champagne houses to invest in their island's potential.

Tasmanian officials are heading to Champagne to promote their island as a budding investment opportunity for sparkling wine.

Officials will be flanked by leading Tasmanian producer, Dr Andrew Pirie, as well as Sue Henderson, director and consultant at Wine IP, in a series of meetings with Champenois over the next week.

The seven-day trip follows a brief visit to London and is part of a wider effort by the state government of Tasmania to increase investment in the island state’s cool-climate vineyards.

‘This is us saying here we are, and this is what we can do,’ Mark Kelleher, secretary of the department for economic development, tourism and the arts, told Decanter.com. ‘Our climatic conditions are very similar to Champagne.’

Around 40% of Tasmania’s wine production is sparkling, which is predominantly produced in the north-east. Another 35% is Pinot Noir, with Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc accounting for a significant proportion of the rest.

There are 1,600 hectares under vine, but Pirie believes this figure could rise as much as ten-fold in the coming years.

Such is the growing demand for Tasmania‘s cool-climate styles, particularly in mainland Australia, Pirie said the island is ‘one of the few regions in the world where we are still short on production.

‘Prices for land are also still fairly low, around a tenth of that in New Zealand. This won’t last forever,’ he said, adding that ‘whole new regions are opening up’. One of Tasmania’s newest wine areas is Devonport, in the north-west.

In terms of up-and-coming varietals, Pirie described Riesling as ‘the unsung hero’. It currently accounts for 6% of production volume.

Written by Chris Mercer

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