Discover Sparkling: Australian Sparkling

Written by
Vintage Cellars
October 1, 2018
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Australia’s history of sparkling wine runs rich and deep, probably first commencing in 1827 in New Town in Hobart with Matthew Broughton’s first imitation champagne. While Seppelt, Thomas Hardy and Samuel Smith all commenced sparkling production in South Australia in the 1870s, it was not until 1890 when Seppelt employed Frenchman Charles Pierlot from Champagne to commence méthode traditionnelle that premium sparkling production came into its own Down Under.

Australian sparkling now

More than a century later, the diversity of Australia’s sparkling offering is as extensive as the far-flung regions from which it hails. The vast continent of Australia boasts an immense diversity of terroirs, from the cool elegance of Tasmania to the heights of Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Pyrenees, Henty and Macedon Ranges, the prosecco capital of the King Valley, the characterful expression of the Adelaide Hills and the reverberating depth of sparkling shiraz from the Grampians, Great Western, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley. In recent times, Western Australia’s Pemberton and Great Southern and New South Wales’ Orange and Tumbarumba have increasingly also proven their credentials in the premium fizz stakes.

From strength to strength

Meanwhile, production of Australian prosecco has trebled in the three years since 2015, growing by 50 per cent in 2017 alone. Australia is gaining a significant footing in the expanding international prosecco market, and even the Italians are starting to take notice. They are fighting to ban the use of the name of the grape on Australian wines. Australian producers deserve our support in defending their right to continue their almost 20-year tradition of prosecco production.

Australian sparkling has traditionally never been regarded in the same league as this country’s top still and fortified wine styles, but all that changed in 2015 and 2016 when Tasmania’s fabled House of Arras was awarded Best Wines of Show in not one but three major capital city wine shows. It then went on in 2017 to be awarded Best Australian Producer at The International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. Such results are echoed in the endorsement of key influencers in the global sparkling world. A very famous Champagne grower in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger recently declared to Tyson Stelzer: "Tasmania now makes the best sparkling wines on earth outside Champagne".

Tasmania’s sparkling gems

When wine-expert Tyson Stelzer recently showcased Tasmania’s top sparkling wines alongside Champagne at benchmark tastings around the world, the response from leading palates was monumental. There's no question Tasmania is producing the world’s finest sparkling wines outside of Champagne, and as the world begins to take notice, our little island state is bursting at its seams to keep up with demand. A recently announced record volume and record value crop in 2018 is good news for upholding supply!

The quality and diversity on our shelves have never been higher, and yet the price in real terms has dropped over the past decade. Such affordable pricing cannot continue, because rapidly increasing cost of production and rising global demand are about to set global sparkling wine prices on an upward trajectory. Champagne will spiral upwards first, the glass ceiling will lift, and all others will follow. Now is the time to buy.

How to open a bottle of sparkling

Twist the bottle (not the cork) slowly and
Tease the cork out gently. If you encounter a stubborn, young cork, use a clean tea towel to improve your grip. When the cork is almost out, tilt it sideways to release the gas slowly. It should make a gentle hiss, not an ostentatious pop. This is important, as it maintains the maximum bead (bubbles) in the wine and reduces the risk of a dramatic gush.

How to pour a bottle

1. Check that the wine tastes right, then pour half a glass for each drinker, topping it up after the mousse has subsided.
2. Tilt the glass to minimise frothing when you pour. A glass of Champagne contains one million bubbles and you risk losing 100,000 if you don’t tilt!
3. Always hold a Champagne or sparkling glass by its base or stem to avoid warming the wine in your hand. This will also reduce the likelihood of any aromas on your hands interfering with its delicate bouquet.

Discover the range of Australian sparkling Australian sparkling at Vintage Cellars today.