When people think of sparkling wine their minds instantly wander to the cold north of France and the famous region of Champagne.
With hundreds of years of winemaking heritage, champagne producers have had a solid head start in sparkling wine production. The Spanish have had a good crack with Cava, the Italians have done a stellar job of taking a bite of the sparkling market with the rise of Prosecco (and to a much lesser extent Franciacorta) and the Germans struggle to grab much of the international market share with the Sekt, that is so popular within the country itself.
But what about Aussie Sparkling wine? How does it stack up against Champagne? Does it compete with or complement the great value bubbles that are being made in Italy?
If you are going to delve into the domestic sparkling market (which you most definitely should as the quality of sparkling wine being produced on our shores is as good as it ever has been!), it’s best to figure out exactly what it is you are buying your fizzy wine for. Is it a casual catch up with friends on a Friday night? Is it a super special occasion that deserves a super special wine? Whatever the occasion, there’s a huge variety of great Aussie sparklers that will fit the bill, at a number of different price points that are often kind on the wallet compared to their more illustrious competitors.
Australia has some truly exceptional cool climate regions that are perfect for sparkling wine production. Regions that, with their range of microclimates, have some particularly cool spots that really are essential for producing elegant sparkling wines. Like in Champagne, the combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir still dominate sparkling production, and regions that specialise in these grapes for table wines tend to produce some pretty tasty sparklers too (think the Yarra Valley, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and Macedon).
Quality-conscious producers in Tasmania and the Yarra Valley are producing some serious sparkling efforts that give their more famous French cousins a run for their money. Anyone who has tasted Ed Carr’s incredible House
of Arras wines will attest to that (if you want to push the boat out, look no further than the EJ
Carr Late Disgorged which is as good a sparkling wine as you will ever taste). In the Yarra, Domaine Chandon has had a new lease of life under the watchful eye of Dan Buckle and his winemaking team and right the way from their entry level Chandon
Brut, up to the most complex, yet equally delicious vintage range, the quality has never been better. In the Adelaide Hills, Croser (produced by the team at Petaluma) are still doing their thing with both the non-vintage and vintage wines offering up an incredible quality to price ratio!
For those more casual occasions, The King Valley in northern Victoria plays host to a number of terrific producers, who, with their Italian influence, have taken the Italians head on with their no-fuss take on Prosecco (check out Brown
Brothers LCR Prosecco for serious bang for buck). The rise of Prosecco sees no sign of slowing down, and it’s great to have access to such affordable, quaffable wines that don’t relinquish their quality even at their slightly cheaper price points.
I guess the best way to decide on the quality of Aussie Sparkling is to try a few for yourself and make the decision the hard way with a glass in your hand! It always makes the decision-making process that much clearer.