Tasmanian-born winemaker James Broinowski, below, has been turning heads with his smart label Small Island Wines since its inception in 2015, named among James Halliday’s 10 Best New Wineries in the 2018 Wine Companion guide.
With a focus on pinot noir (including a 100 per cent pinot noir rosé called ‘Patsie’s Blush’), James’s operation is a passion project in the truest sense. After graduating with a degree in oenology, he faced the reality of the industry – winemaking is an expensive business. He didn’t let that deter him, however, and started a crowd-funding campaign that allowed him to purchase some grapes and set Small Island Wines in motion, hitting the ground running by winning a gold medal for his pinot noir in the Hobart Wine Show that same year.
James’s winemaking ethos is light touch, allowing the characteristics of Tasmania’s diverse sites and soils to shine through the liquid in the glass. “I try to make wines that are honest, showing place and the complexities of grapes rather than winemaking manipulation,” he explains. The names of his single-vineyard pinot noirs reflect that philosophy, referencing the cardinal point in Tasmania where the fruit comes from (i.e. the Single Site South, using fruit from Coal River, and the Single Site North, encompassing grapes from Glengarry).
He also sees the merit of blending to create a more overarching expression of the state and its vintages, with one example of this being his popular Black Label Pinot Noir.
Outside of pinot noir, James also produces a sole riesling, and a duo of gins that includes a number spiked with locally sourced saffron, giving it an attractive sunny colour.
The production of Small Island Wines is tiny, so blink and you could miss them, but their mix of exceptional quality, ageability, rarity and eye-catching design, including striking hand-painted labels, makes them veritable collector’s items.
As with most small-batch wine labels, the best way to get your hands on these limited releases is to sign up for the mailing list and bookmark the website.