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. It’s a trend which has focused attention on identifying the best regions and sites to grow the classic Champagne varieties of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.
Notably, northern Tasmania is proving to be one of the best regions in Australia for producing fine quality sparkling. It benefits from a cool climate and the maritime influence from Bass Strait creates just the right amount of humidity to allow the grapes to ripen slowly and retain the lingering acidity essential for making premium sparkling wine.
On the mainland Victoria’s Macedon Ranges and the Upper Yarra are also producing very good sparkling, and the cool climate regions of Tumbarumba and the Southern Highlands in NSW are showing great potential. The top five NV sparklings listed here are just representative examples of many good wines that are still priced very competitively against their French counterparts.
Tasmania’s House of Arras is arguably Australia’s top sparkling house. Under Ed Carr’s exceptional leadership, wines like the House of Arras Ed Carr LD 2000, for example, have consistently won accolades typically reserved for top vintage Champagnes.
The entry level House of Arras Brut Elite Cuvée No. 401 NV is a blend … Read the rest