Category Archives: Australian sparkling

Aug 08 2014

Tasmanian Sparkling: The Art of Creating a Signature Style

Posted on August 08, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Tasmania Unbottled Sparkling Masterclass with Huon Hooke

This week I had the good fortune to attend the Tasmania Unbottled Masterclass on sparkling wine. Moderated by wine critic Huon Hooke, the session provided some wonderful insights into how Tasmania’s leading winemakers create their signature sparkling styles.

Non Vintage is really Multi Vintage

Jansz’s head winemaker Natalie Fryar opened her remarks by stating that the term “non vintage” (NV) is a bit of a misnomer. She believes that “multi vintage” is a better adjective for describing a winery’s house style. Non vintage sparklings are typically the product of the current vintage with the addition of reserve wines from previous vintages to preserve a consistent style from year to year.

Because most sparkling wines are made in cool climates where the weather is often unpredictable, consistency of fruit quality and quantity from one vintage to the next is never guaranteed. Fryar referred to cool climate as a high risk/high return proposition. In other words, when the weather cooperates, the results in the vineyard can be spectacular, but when it doesn’t you need a back up plan!

Cork closure helps the tertiary characters in sparkling to develop

One of the most interesting aspects of the session was a discussion about the influence of cork on the development of a sparkling wine. Acclaimed veteran winemaker Ed Carr of the House of Arras talked about the wine’s primary, secondary and tertiary characters to illustrate his point about the importance of cork.

As you may expect, primary characters in the wine like purity of flavours, citrus elements and vibrant acidity are created by the fruit, which is why so much emphasis is placed on bringing out the best in the fruit in the vineyard. The development of secondary characters like toasty aromas of brioche and almond biscuits, for example, are typically the result of the length of time the wine spends on lees. Time on cork brings out the tertiary characters,.. [Read More]

Dec 12 2013

Australia’s Top 5 NV Sparkling ‘Champagne Style’ Wines

Posted on December 12, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Sydney Morning Herald’s wine critic Huon Hooke recently remarked that “with champagne prices plunging like an England cricket fan’s morale (yes, Australia is still in the lead!) you might think there is no contest for your festive season bubbly dollars.” (Swap toil, trouble for fizz and bubble, SMH 3 December 2013)

But, as Hooke goes on to say, Australia also produces high quality, great value sparkling wines using the traditional methode champenoise. Indeed, the number of boutique wineries making sparkling wine in Australia has grown dramatically over the past few decades… [Read More]

Sep 09 2011

Jansz Tasmania: The Poor Man’s Krug!

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At the Tasmania Unbottled tasting I bumped into a friend who’s in charge of buying wine for his wine society. I really value his opinion, and he thought the pick of the show was the Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée 2006. I also thought this sparkling was a standout. It was a deliciously textural wine with a finely beaded mousse and a vibrant complex nose of citrus, biscuits, honeysuckle and toasted almonds.

I’m always excited when my impression of a wine is confirmed by a seasoned critic… [Read More]

Aug 08 2011

Sparkling Shiraz: Australia’s unique take on Bubbly!

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Australia has made a few significant contributions to the world of wine: the shiraz cabernet/cabernet shiraz blend, the stelvin screw cap and a new take on bubbly with the sparkling shiraz.

While most people tend to drink sparkling wines as an aperitif, the spicy aromas, fine beading and complex flavours of sparkling shiraz make it a perfect accompaniment with dinner.

Seppelt’s Great Western Winery in Victoria has been making sparkling shiraz almost continuously since the 1890s. The highly rated Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz is made from 60+ year old grapes from the St… [Read More]

Jul 07 2011

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

Posted on July 07, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

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,.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2011

The Macedon Ranges: Small in Quantity but Big in Quality!

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Some friends of ours recently gave us a bottle of the superb Bindi Pyrette Heathcote Shiraz 2009. According to James Halliday “only a skilled pinot maker [ie. Michael Dhillon] could induce Heathcote to provide such an elegant shiraz.” (James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2011)

Indeed! Along with Curly Flat, Bindi is one of the icons of Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, the coolest wine region on Australia’s mainland. These two wineries have established the Macedon Ranges as one of the best sources in the country for pinot noir and chardonnay… [Read More]

Nov 11 2010

Premium Australian Sparklings for the Silly Season!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

As the silly season approaches and your mind turns to what to serve at a party or send as a Christmas gift, you may wish to consider Australian sparkling as an alternative to French Champagne.

Australia is really starting to make its mark as a producer of  fine quality sparkling. The best examples are being made in the cool climate regions of Tasmania, the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Macedon Ranges under the direction of skilled winemakers using either the French traditional method (méthode champenoise) or the ‘transfer method’.. [Read More]

Sep 09 2010

Australian Sparkling: Rivals Best in the World?

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Only the French can call it Champagne but that doesn’t mean Australian producers aren’t intent on going head to head with their famous French counterparts to produce the world’s best bubbly.

In June the Tasmanian  House of Arras released the EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998, which at a recommended retail price of around $200, makes it the most expensive Australian sparkling wine on the market. House of Arras chief winemaker Ed Carr, for whom the the sparkling is named, believes his Australian sparkling is a true rival to fine French Champagne… [Read More]