Brothers Matthew and Jonathan Hughes established Mewstone Vineyard in 2011 on the banks of Tasmania’s D’Entrecasteaux Channel in the tiny hamlet of Flowerpot. The small, boutique vineyard is a former cherry orchard and with some new plantings this year will expand to an ultimate size of just 3.5 hectares. The original plantings consist mostly of Pinot Noir with small plantings of Chardonnay, Syrah, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Jonny studied winemaking at Lincoln University in New Zealand before gaining further experience in regions as diverse and far-flung as Langhorne Creek, Central Otago, Mornington Peninsula, Barolo, the Hunter Valley and the Okanagan Valley. Back in Tasmania, he was the Assistant Winemaker at Moorilla for seven years, before moving on to a similar role at Pooley Wines in 2016, where the Mewstone and Hughes & Hughes wines are currently made.
Whilst the Mewstone wines are strictly produced from the Flowerpot vineyard, the Hughes & Hughes range of wines brings together fruit sourced from around Tasmania, with the aim of producing wines that are high on both natural acidity and drinkability. In addition, from time to time individual small batches are released that capture the results of investigations into the use of skins, stalks, solids and other fermentation variables. All Hughes & Hughes wines are bottled unfined and with low sulphur.
The Mewstone Vineyard lies on the banks of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in the farmland of Flowerpot. The gently north facing slopes capture the cool southern sunshine, whilst the vineyard is protected from the harsh westerly winds by the hills that rise quickly from the water. The soils are predominantly duplex soils formed on Jurassic dolerite. This consists of loam textured topsoil over a sandy loam horizon on clay subsoil.
The vineyard is hand pruned and the fruit hand picked. The extra effort put into ensuring a vibrant ecosystem below the ground translates into quality fruit on the vines above. Leading soil microbiologist, Letetia Ware, is a close neighbour and has guided the vineyard nutrition plan from the beginning. Through extensive use of mulches, composts and compost teas the soils are continually being revitalised.
A comprehensive array of clones has been planted across the five varieties, both on phylloxera tolerant rootstocks and the vines' own roots. This diversity of selection brings complexity to the finished wines, but also provides an experimental lens through which to evaluate the optimum configurations for site and variety.
Wine Notes and Reviews - Current Vintages
2017 Mewstone Riesling (Sold Out)
100% Riesling from the Mewstone vineyard, whole bunch pressed to old oak and naturally fermented for some 57 days. Matured on lees through to late spring before filtering and bottling. Only 1116 bottles produced.
2017 Mewstone Sauvignon Blanc (Sold Out)
100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Mewstone vineyard, whole bunch pressed to 50% new oak and naturally fermented. Matured on lees for six months and bottled at the end of spring. Only 564 bottles produced.
2017 Mewstone Chardonnay (Sold Out)
100% Chardonnay from the Mewstone vineyard, whole bunch pressed to 50% new oak and naturally fermented. Matured for nine months and bottled in late summer. Only 505 bottles produced.
2017 Mewstone Pinot Noir (Sold Out)
100% Pinot Noir from the two blocks at Mewstone, picked individually on the 11th and 12th of April. Each block was naturally fermented with 15% whole bunch in old milk vats and held on skins for 20 days. Matured in 40% new oak for nine months and bottled in late summer. Only 1920 bottles produced.
2017 Mewstone Syrah (Sold Out)
100% Syrah from the Mewstone vineyard, harvested on the 15th May. Naturally fermented with 8% whole bunch in an old milk vat and held on skins for 21 days. Matured in 40% new oak for nine months and bottled in late summer. Only 606 bottles produced.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Riesling
Fruit sourced from vineyards in the Derwent and Coal River Valley, picked at approximately 12 baume, destemmed, crushed and soaked on skins for 4 and 16 hours respectively, slowly fermented in stainless with GHM yeast, stopped when sugars and acids found balance and matured on lees. Bottled unfined and filtered.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Sauvignon Blanc
Fruit sourced from two vineyards in the Coal River Valley, picked at 12 and 12.5 baume, both skin soaked for 4 hours, 90% fermented in stainless with SVG yeast, 10% naturally fermented in oak. Bottled unfined and filtered.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Barrel and Skin Ferment Sauvignon Blanc
From a single vineyard in the Coal River Valley, 60% barrel fermented after a 4 hour skin soak, 40% skin fermented for two weeks and pressed to oak, all natural yeast, partial malolactic ferment while maturing on lees. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay
Fruit from a single vineyard in the Derwent Valley over two picks (12.0 and 12.8 Baume), whole bunch pressed to oak (20% new), fermented with Sauvage yeast (60%) and natural yeast (40%), underwent partial malolactic fermentation while maturing on lees ageing for 6 months. Bottled unfined and filtered.
Review for 2017 Vintage 'From the Derwent and Huon Valleys, it is 100% barrel fermented in new and used oak, matured for 4 months on lees. The aromas and flavours are in the grapefruit/citrus corner of the ring, minerally in tandem. Drink to 2027.' 95 points, James Halliday, May 2018.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Pinot Gris (Sold Out)
Fruit was sourced from a vineyard in the Coal River Valley, picked at approximately 13 baume, destemmed, crushed and skin soaked for 24 hour prior to being pressed, fermented with GHM yeast and matured on lees. Bottled unfined and filtered.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Skin Ferment Pinot Gris
From a single vineyard in the Derwent Valley, picked at 12.5 baume, whole berries fermented for a week on skins with natural yeast, then pressed to seasoned oak to finish ferment, partial malolactic ferment while maturing on lees. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Rosé
90% Merlot and 10% Pinot Noir from the Coal River Valley, the Merlot given 4 hours of skin contact, while the Pinot was drained off ferment after 48 hours. Barrel fermented in seasoned French oak barriques. Matured on lees for 2 months and bottled unfined.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Pinot Noir
Our 2018 Pinot brings together fruit from vineyards in the Derwent and Coal River Valley, predominantly whole berry, 10% whole bunch, R71 (75%) and natural (25%) yeast, pressed to and matured in oak for 5 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
‘Perfumed, silky, super-fresh and super-drinkable. Pinot noir in a very good place. Musk, cranberry, red cherry and twiggy herbs, though the latter are finely-stitched and understated. There’s a tartness and a fruit sweetness though it’s not a tug of war; they play nicely together. I drank one glass of this over three consecutive days and it remained fresh, vivid, interesting and delicious throughout. No hesitation in recommending this. Drink 2018-2024+’ 92 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, December 2018.
2018 Hughes & Hughes 15% Whole Bunch Pinot Noir
Sourced from a single vineyard in the Derwent Valley, one puncheon from MV6, two puncheons from the mixed clone ‘home’ block, naturally fermented with 15% whole bunches in barrels, no plunging or pump overs, pressed to and matured in oak, 33% new, for 7 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 1848 bottles produced.
2018 Hughes & Hughes Pied de Cuve Pinot Noir
Sourced from a single vineyard in the D’entrecasteaux Channel, a natural yeast starter was prepared in the vineyard a week prior to harvest, it was placed at the ‘foot of the tank’ (translation) and covered with 100% whole bunches. Lightly foot stomped after one and two weeks, then pressed after three weeks to oak. Matured for 9 months with 33% new oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 888 bottles produced.
‘From a single vineyard in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. 100% whole bunch for three weeks. Pressed to barrel and voila. 888 bottles produced. No fining, no filtration. “fermentation started in the vineyard”. It’s smoky and sappy but the fruit is there, so too the florals, and certainly both the length and the tannin. It’s a sinewy, characterful, mid-weight expression, all turns, tosses, smokes and mirror-smooth texture. It’s a hard wine to rate; its appeal is more of a style/vibe thing. Drink 2020-2025+’ 94 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, March 2019.
2017 Hughes & Hughes Barrel Ferment Riesling (Sold Out)
100% Riesling from the Coal River Valley, 100% barrel-fermented in French oak barriques. Matured on lees for two months and bottled unfined with 5g/l residual sugar. 1092 bottles produced.
'From the Coal River Valley, avant garde winemaking: fermented with solids in old oak and matured on lees. There is a nearly invisible touch of sweetness deliberately retained to provide the balance (and length) the wine has. 91 dozen made. Drink to 2032.' 94 points, James Halliday, August 2018.
2017 Hughes & Hughes 15% Whole Bunch Pinot Noir
100% Pinot Noir from the Derwent Valley. Fermented in four puncheons, two open and two closed, each held on skins for 21 days, with only the open puncheons lightly plunged twice. Matured on lees for four months and bottled unfined. 1188 bottles produced.
'From the Derwent Valley. The avant garde winemaking is an unqualified success: barrel-fermented with 15% whole bunches, left strictly alone with no plunging (nigh-on impossible in any event) or pumpovers. Elegance is the key descriptor of a wine with potent pinot berry and plum fruit within a garland of savoury notes coupled with very good tannins. Drink to 2029.' 95 points, James Halliday, August 2018.
'Pinot noir from the Derwent Valley. 1188 bottles. It drinks well now but it will soar given cellar-time. It combines tension and stuffing in just the right way. Sweet, sour, spiced and smoky; red cherries and plums with emphasis on the cherries; it looks light but it’s not; the finish keeps on going when it has every right to pull up stumps. It’s a long, lean pinot noir with a sleeve stuffed with tricks. Excellent pinot noir. Drink 2019-2025+.' 94 points, Campbell Mattinson, Winefront, November 2017.
2017 Hughes & Hughes Co-Ferment Pinot Noir
91% Pinot Noir, 5% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Gris from the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Two batches were co-fermented with the Pinot Noir, one with the Chardonnay and the other with the Pinot Gris, each held on skins for 21 days. Matured on lees for four months and bottled unfined. 1188 bottles produced.
'From the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. The colour has a little more purple than its 15% Whole Bunch sibling, probably ex the co-ferment components of the blend, one with 5% chardonnay, the other 4% pinot gris. It has a profoundly complex bouquet, with spices woven through dark cherry and plum fruit, the palate seamlessly incorporating the lead of the bouquet, but building and expanding the baroque splendour of a very, very good pinot noir. Drink to 2032.' 96 points, James Halliday, May 2018.
Wine Notes and Reviews - Prior Vintages
2016 Mewstone Riesling
'Medium to light yellow colour with a tint of grey, the bouquet is oak-kissed as if it's been barrel fermented. There's a note of talcum powder, too. The wine is rich and full, soft and texturally unusual but appealing. The palate is quite rich and full for a young riesling, finishing with a touch of bitterness - presumably from skin contact. A good wine but a slightly eccentric style of Australian riesling. The muscaty cool-climate riesling fragrance came up beautifully with extended airing. A fascinating wine. Drink 2017-2029. (930 bottles made).' 95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review, September 2017.
2016 Mewstone Chardonnay
'Hand-picked, whole-bunch pressed direct to French oak for wild fermentation and ageing on lees, 96 dozen made. Here new French oak and a rich, supple, yet intense palate with white peach and nectarine all sing in perfect harmony from the same page. The lingering aftertaste reaffirms everything you have encountered on the bouquet and palate. Drink by 2026.' 95 points, James Halliday, July 2018.
'I have a bee in my bonnet about the oft-used term “Tasmanian acidity”. It’s not a phrase I like to see; it looks lazy to me. And so I’m a little red-faced to admit that when I first tasted this Chardonnay from Mewstone, the first thing to pop to mind was indeed that phrase. It’s a wine with flavour, texture and length but yes, it’s slipped with cool-light acidity. It gives the wine a certain ring of confidence. There are notes of ginger, preserved lemon, pink grapefruit and oyster shells here, and while I’m sure there was oak involved there’s very little sign of it in the wine. A kiss of toasted cedar wood, is all. More than anything it’s about pure fruit, illuminated by a cool low light. Thankfully it went through malo; it needed to. Pick this up in three years (+) time and it will be just starting to hit its straps. Tasmania certainly knows how to produce modern wine stars. Drink 2019-2025.' 94 points, Campbell Mattinson, Winefront, July 2017.
2016 Mewstone Pinot Noir
'Very deep red/purple, bright and youthful. Superb black cherry aromas of very ripe pinot noir, and full of interest - not simple. It smells luscious. Gorgeous sweet-fruit pinot flavour and soft, ample tannins providing a foil for the delicious ripe fruit. Excellent pinot. Drink 2017-2031.' 96 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review, July 2017.
'We are on to a very good thing here. Rejoice. Make hay. Get in. This wine nails the centre point between sweet fruit and outright savouriness, and for good measure adds undergrowth and forest berry flavours aplenty. It’s plush and direct at once; it uses oak to modest but important effect; it’s awash with fruit but long and mouthwatering. There’s even a linger of smoke and/or mineral to the aftertaste. It is, in short, a beautiful wine. Drink 2017-2024.' 95 points, Campbell Mattinson, Winefront, July 2017.
2016 Mewstone Syrah
'Shiraz/syrah grown in an incredibly southern situation. Indeed it would be difficult to find a more southern destination for Syrah. Beautiful shiraz. Painted in watercolours. Spice, leaves, peppers, nuts and florals. Tangy, spice-infused cherries rise as the wine breathes. Not in any way heavy. Well ripened. Intricately tannic. Has a dusty, twiggy character to the aftertaste; in a positive sense. Could probably – just – do with a bit more oomph but we’re in delicious cool-climate territory here. Drink 2017-2023.' 92 points, Campbell Mattinson, Winefront, July 2017.