Me: Any Shiny Wine Pinot Gris?
Him: No, we drank the last of it at the staff party.
Me: Fair enough.
Him: Why don't you try this instead, it's a new label by Two Tonne and is great.
Me: Ok, you've never let me down before.
After this brief discussion last December with one of the affable fellows at my favourite bottle shop, I took the recommendation home and promptly fell head over heels for its peachy keen contents: rosé from the Tamar Valley.
This is HAVILAH, a side hustle of Two Tonne Tasmania, a label born six years ago by Ricky Evans who has this to say about the juicy drop:
"TTT has always been about representing regions and the state. HAVILAH will become the platform to dive a little deeper, perhaps. Some fun stuff, some weird stuff, some fizzy stuff, some serious stuff. We planted a vineyard on our farm at Swan Bay a few years ago, and loosely this brand will revolve around that site in the future. At the moment is just for Tasmania, also."
"It is a bit of a work in progress. I guess I have an itch to play around with another brand, and perhaps use some of the lessons I learnt the first time."
Thinking he'd become some sort of farmer, Ricky picked one of the more romantic agricultural pursuits.
"I did work experience in year 10 at Holm Oak when Nick Butler owned it. From there I still didn't really know I wanted to be a winemaker, but a few things fell into place and all of a sudden I was on my way to university in Adelaide to study Oenology."
"I was really lucky I fell into something that has and will end up being a career for life, and the timing to move back to Tasmania couldn't have been better. It's a great time to be doing many things here, and wine is no exception."
As Ricky explains how he grows wine – really, really good wine that's popping up on lists in some trendy places – I think of the TV ad for baby peas from the glorious nineties in which an instinctive farmer tenderly collects his crop. It seems Ricky's as in tune with his harvest as that McCain's man.
"For me, setting the vineyard up through the growing season, executing cultural practices at the right time, picking at the right time, and understanding what each part of the vineyard will bring to the table, are most important. My background is more from a technical perspective - there is plenty of science in wine - understanding this side in detail actually allows you to step back, and appreciate that some of the simpler things in the process are the most important."
As any good tourist pamphlet will tell you, the Tamar Valley is family size block full of vitis belonging to growers and makers of all shapes and sizes. Ricky says TTT is now a little collection of plots and patches.
"This evolved for two reasons; firstly, the sheer expense of fruit and limited supply. Secondly, we often hear that great wine is made in the vineyard, and having control of my own sites allows me to work with this theory in mind."
Work he does: Ricky's enjoying running his own show after cutting his teeth at Bay of Fires Wines but says each day is a juggle of all the fun things small business owners must manage – marketing, product lines, unjamming the printer – plus big picking stretches.
TTT joins the growing gang of young Tasmanian labels doing some very cool stuff - take aforementioned Shiny Wine, Sinapius and Luna Wines, if you will. Ricky says the local industry is on a good path but dreams of the day when the rest of the country looks to the apple isle as the undisputed authority on cool climate wines.
"We are so tiny still, 1% of Australia's production, but it's all in the premium market. The challenge will be to keep it this way while growing our presence."
TTT's tagline is small parcels, big love. Very cute but also legit: Ricky sticks to bijou brews, which we've already heard he approaches with great care.
"It's essentially a ‘sum of the parts' theory, and I hope I can make more layered, detailed wines by allowing individual wines to express themselves in their own unique way. Together they form something that I hope represents the whole subregion while gaining an element of consistency."
Well, the TTT I've sampled (namely Ziggurat '18 Chardonnay and Riesling) has been the biz each time, every time. Now, don't ask me about the aroma or tannins or acidity. That's zazzy lingo I'm not entirely down with which this vintner isn't either. Ricky says he's not big on descriptors and suggests just drinking delicious things. Shall do, Ricky.
TTT will be mixing it up at Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast - keep an eye out.
Visit www.tttwine.com.au to get the good stuff.