Winemaker Jim Chatto: "Mediterranean varieties sit so well with our lifestyle."

by Erin Ogilvie

What were we quaffing this year? What'll we be drinking in 2017? We reached out to some of our expert friends to get their opinions on trends in 2016 and predictions for 2017.

Winemaker Jim Chatto

As a controversial and political 2016 comes to a close, some are looking back fondly while others are glad it's nearly over. And while Brexit and Trump dominated the news, we want to discuss what really matters: wine.

Jim Chatto, Chair of Judges, National Wine Show of Australia

Your winery, Chatto Wines, is in Tasmania. Why did you choose the region; what makes it so special?

We spent six years looking for the perfect site: a warm (north facing) slope in the coolest wine region. I believe the best cool climate wines are grown right on the edge of viticultural possibility. This is where you get the best intensity, purity, and natural balance. You only have to taste the berries and cherries in the south of Tasmania to get an understanding of how good the grapes can be.

The 2014 Chalkers Crossing CC2 Shiraz won the Champion Wine of Show. What was so special about it?

Simple, it’s a great drink!  Beautiful expression of red fruits, floral, and spice, in a well-balanced medium bodied frame. The wine it just beat for Best Shiraz, the 2015 Mount Majura Shiraz, could just as easily have gone all the way too.

Why did the 2015 Clarence House Estate Pinot Noir take out your Chair of Judges award?

I felt it was a little unlucky in the trophy taste off. Taking nothing away from the deserved winner – the 2015 Point Eddystone Point – but splitting them was extremely difficult. Made by Justin Bubb and Anna Pooley of Pooley Wines, the Clarence House is wonderfully balanced and pure, with hints of the all-important expansive back palate that great Pinots develop in time.

What has been one of the dominating wine trends of 2016?

The rise and rise of light to medium bodied, early drinking ‘bistro style’ reds. Mediterranean varieties and blends thereof work so well with many of our warmer climates – much better than the cooler climate varieties are industry was founded on. They sit so well with our climate, lifestyle and cuisine.

Is there a region or a variety that will have a stand out vintage 2016?

It’s early days yet… We have just finished classifications and blending of our 2016 Chardonnays from Margaret River, Tumbarumba, and Tasmania. These are looking very good.

What do you think we’ll be talking about in 2017?

Young drinking red varieties, and the shortfall of Rosé. Rosé is in solid growth, but I expect nobody will have made enough to meet demand for Spring Summer 17/18.

Any varieties to watch in 2017?

A hard call as you should never count your chickens. I’ll update once harvest is in the bag! Again, emerging red varieties from the warmer regions, and Rosé.


To find out more about Jim's beautiful winery in Tasmania, click here.

Click here to read our second interview with Judy Sarris, editor of Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine.