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Wine Gift Ideas: Vintage Sparkling from Tasmania rivals the finest Champagne

Arguably, the finest sparkling wines in Australia come from Tasmania.  Bay of Fires‘ winemaker Fran Austin argues that what distinguishes the cool climate wines of Tasmania from their high altitude, cool climate counterparts on the mainland is the acid structure in the grapes: “A lot of mainland cool-climate regions are cool because they’re high up, not because they’re down south. In high-altitude wines, the acidity can taste hard. But in cool-latitude wines, you get softer, mouth-watering juicy acidity. And incredible depth of flavour – which means you can work the wines more, let them spend more time on lees before releasing them, producing a more complex end result.” (Epithany – Aussie Sparkling by Max Allen, Langton’s Magazine.)

The potential of Tasmania for producing fine sparkling wines was first recognised in the 1980s when the French Champagne House Louis Roederer established the Jansz vineyard in collaboration with Heemskerk in the Tamar Valley. Jansz was Tasmania’s first sparkling wine to be made according to the traditional méthod champenoise. In 2009 the Jansz Tasmania Premium Vintage Cuvee 2004 beat out some serious French competition to claim the Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine of the Show at the Sydney International Wine Competition.

Last year the House of Arras released the EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998, which at a recommended retail price of  $190, made it the most expensive Australian sparkling wine on the market. Wine critic Max Allen described his reaction to a sneak preview over a decade ago of the 1995 Tasmanian vintage made by winemaker Ed Carr: “I still remember tasting these wines and thinking here was Australian sparkling that approached the best Champagne in terms of finesse, complexity and depth of flavour.” Epithany: Aussie Sparkling by Max Allen, Langton’s Magazine.

Taltarni owned Clover Hill in the Pipers River region of northern Tasmania also makes very fine sparkling under the direction of French born Loic Le Calvez. The Clover Hill Blanc de Blancs 2005, for example, was was blended from five separate cuvees sourced from the Clover Hill vineyards and two cuvees from Coal Valley grapes that were included in the blend for added stone fruit characters, weight and complexity. All the parcels were gently whole bunch pressed, fermented and underwent partial malolactic fermentation and batonnage in tank. The wine was aged on lees in bottle for 38 months prior to the first disgorging.

A good selection of vintage sparkling from Jansz, House of Arras and Clover Hill are available on the Cellarit Wine Market.

 

3 Responses to Wine Gift Ideas: Vintage Sparkling from Tasmania rivals the finest Champagne

  1. Kathy says:

    I have to agree with this, Tasmania does have some of the best wines in the world. I came to this conclusion after a recent trip where I was lucky enough to taste a variety of different Tassie wines, including the Clover Hill Blanc de Blancs – absolutely delicious! Before I left on my trip I did do a bit of “Tasmanian Wine” research (this involved some note-taking but no drinking unfortunately!) I came across this article http://blog.discovertasmania.com/journeys/wine-and-dine-your-way-through-tasmania which outlined a few of the good wineries and distilleries to go check out

    • Hi Kathy, Glad to hear that you enjoyed your wine tour of Tasmania. I was down there briefly last year and can’t wait to get back again. I will check out the article you mentioned. If you live in Sydney or Melbourne you may be interested in attending Tasmania Unbottled 2012 on 25 July in Sydney and 31 July in Melbourne. I went to the trade event last year and it was terrific. I got to try the Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz 2010, which went on to win the prestigious Jimmy Watson trophy. Regards, Merrill

  2. Kathy says:

    Hi Merrill,

    Thanks for that info, I’ll definitely go check out the Tasmania Unbottled in Melbourne in July!

    Best regards,
    Kathy

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