Category Archives: Tasmanian 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

Pirie NVOne 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 … Read the rest

Jul 07 2012

3 Wonderful Aged Wines from Tasmania: A Tasmanian Unbottled Masterclass Tasting

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Andrew Pirie, Ed Carr, Peter Bourne and Nick Haddow

On Wednesday I attended the Tasmania Unbottled Cheese and Wine Masterclass.  The Wine Man’s Peter Bourne led the discussion and was joined by the House of Arras’s chief winemaker Ed Carr, Andrew Pirie, chief winemaker at Tamar Ridge and Pirie Tasmania, and the Bruny Island Cheese Company’s Nick Haddow.

The cheese was excellent, especially the four year old raw milk C2, a cheddar style cheese, which incidentally is the only legally made raw cheese in Australia! But the highlight for me was the opportunity to taste three superb vintage wines: the House of Arras Grand Vintage 2004, the Tamar Ridge Chardonnay 2004 and the Native Point Pinot Noir 2005.

 

If you’re ever weighing up buying a French Champagne or an Australian vintage sparkling, do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle of the beautifully made House of Arras Grand Vintage 2004. (It retails for around $70 a bottle) This elegant, finely beaded wine with complex nuances of flavour and a slight creaminess to the finish is still displaying great vibrancy and freshness. A blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, Ed Carr explained that the wine had spent seven years on lees before disgorgement. It receives a small dosage of expedition liqueur, which introduces a slight oak and brandy spirit into the complex, balanced blend.

Andrew Pirie was Australia’s first PhD in viticulture and as the founder of Pipers Brook Vineyard back in 1974, he is one of the legends of the Tasmanian wine industry. His Tamar Ridge Chardonnnay 2004 was an absolutely stunning example of  Tasmania’s potential to make chardonnay with enough balance and structure to age for a long time.

Pirie explained that Tasmanian chardonnay needs time to evolve. Over time the … Read the rest

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. British wine critic Matthew Jukes said that the 2006 Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée was the finest offering from this specialist producer to date. Tyson Stelzer, author of the Champagne Guide 2011, referred to the Premium Vintage Rosé 2007, which I also enjoyed, as a poor man’s Krug Rosé. (Matthew Jukes, 100 Best Australian Wines – 2011)

The comparison to one of the greatest names in Champagne seems apt given that Jansz was originally launched in 1986 as a specialist sparkling producer by Graham Wiltshire and Bill Fesq of the Tamar Valley’s Heemskerk Winery and the famous Champagne House of Louis Roederer. The head of Louis Roederer, Jean-Claude Rouzard, was personally involved in establishing the vineyard, planting it with the classic varieties of chardonnay and pinot noir. Today Jansz is owned by Yalumba’s Hill Smith family, and since 2001 Natalie Fryar has served as Winemaker.

Heemskerk and Louis Roederer were the first to recognise that the ultra-cool climate of Northern Tasmania’s Tamar Valley was ideal for growing grapes for sparkling wines. The maritime influence of Bass Strait keeps temperatures low and creates enough humidity for a long and gentle ripening period, enabling the wines to develop intense, delicate and refined flavours and a lingering, mouthwatering juicy acidity that is essential … Read the rest

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, 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 … Read the rest