Always look up at the stars and not down at your feet
It’s hard to decide what we enjoy most about Stargazer – the wines themselves, being incredible varietal expressions of small batch, honest wines from Tasmania, or the woman behind them – Samantha Connew, an exemplary figure for Australian winemaking. Perhaps we’ll draw this one a tie, which says just how good the Stargazer wines actually are.
Winemaker: Samantha Connew
Samantha Connew has been an important figure in the Australian wine industry for decades, although, admittedly, like many good contributors to Australia’s reputation, she is originally from New Zealand. Samantha carved out a career as a senior winemaker at many iconic wineries across the country, including McLaren Vale’s Wirra Wirra, with her wines winning many prestigious international awards. Her work in the corporate space saw the betterment of the industry as a whole, particularly during periods of time when it wasn’t common to see women in powerful positions on boards, panels and associations. Her skill as both a winemaker and a businesswoman is apparent by how quickly her solo passion project Stargazer took off, meaning she had to relocate to Tasmania, buy a vineyard and work the land to cultivate and nurture some of our favourite expressions of Tasmanian wines to date.
Coal River Valley Chardonnay 2017
We love this wine because…
After cutting her teeth with some big guns of wine, this is Sam Connew’s own work of art. And it didn’t take long for Sam’s chardonnays to be getting medals. Deservedly so. Wild ferments, 40% new oak. Fresh lemon zest, flint and hazelnut. Fruit and oak support, with a lingering lemon curd finish.
“…collecting trophies for award-winning wines throughout her career, but also for the work she has done in research and the betterment of the entire wine industry.”
Handcrafted Tasmanian Perfection
Samantha Connew’s move to Tasmania to dedicate herself to Stargazer saw her buy a vineyard in the Tea Tree subregion at the northern end of the Coal River Valley. She has subsequently expanded the vineyard, predominantly pinot noir, riesling and chardonnay. Given her work and research on clones, it’s no surprise that this is a focus of her work in stargazer, planting multiple clones of the same variety in the vineyard, understanding their nuances and how the DNA of the plant can impact the resulting wine. Samantha’s goal is to soon be totally estate grown once she reaches five hectares total.
The inspiration for Stargazer is Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer and navigator who was the first European to sight Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand. As both a South Islander, and now Tasmanian, the link is self-explanatory, but shows how much of Samantha Connew is personally invested in Stargazer. Her philosophy in the vineyard is to try and leave the land in better condition than what she found it in – no easy feat for any farming practice. Thus, through her experience and research, Samantha is applying her expertise to treat the land with respect and craft the wines by hand, using wild ferments to create soft, gentle and expressive wines.
Rada Pinot Muenier Pinot Noir 2019
We love this wine because…
Sam Connew makes top-value drops. This is her light(ish) and vibrant blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier - a heavenly match. Summer and fragrant, you can chill it down to appreciate its nuances. Sweet and sour, berries and flowers, acid and pepper. A stroll through the Tassie hills in a glass.
This is Samantha Connew’s take on the Alsatian ‘Gentil’ blend using varieties all grown in the Coal River Valley. Tupelo is predominantly Pinot Gris at 57% for body, with 32% Riesling for delicacy and 11% Gewurztraminer for spice. The result is spicy and perfumed, with notes of quince, rosewater and pear.
The stars aligned for this – a great variety grown in a stellar region by an exceptional winemaker. As expected, Samantha Connew knocked this one out of the park (no surprises there) with this premium pinot noir from her small block in Coal River Valley showing fruit and spice in a graceful balance.