With over 1000 wines, the Australia Trade Tastings 2019 will offer the widest array of Australian wine available to the on-trade
With its wide range of cool climate latitudes and high altitudes, Australia has been making and enjoying great sparkling wine since the late 19th century. It was in the 1980s, however, that Australian winemakers began pursuing the fresh, elegant, cooler-climate and high-quality styles of fizz that we enjoy today.
‘In the 1980s, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were progressively further planted in cool-climate regions, and this migration was the start of the cool-climate revolution for sparkling wine,’ legendary House of Arras winemaker Ed Carr tells Imbibe.
‘Over the following 30 years the market has matured, with most premium producers consistent in their house style across the product range.’
Today, Australia is the seventh largest producer of sparkling wine in the world. While volumes have decreased at the budget end of the market, smaller volume, premium wines are seeing value growth, showing that the world is increasingly aware of Australia’s sparkling wine virtues.
‘Australia boasts a great diversity of premium sparkling wine styles that in recent years have shown world-class quality, retaining their own individual expressions of terroir and producer.’‘Recently the top end cuvées have been allowed much more extensive maturation in tirage,’ explains Carr, ‘and hence now show increased complexity and depth while retaining their cool climate vibrancy.
Much of Australia’s quality fizz is made from the classic grape varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and crafted according to the time-honoured and labour-intensive traditional method. These are highly refined interpretations, showing great finesse and ageing potential.
Aussie winemakers, however, are not afraid of engaging with more unusual expressions of sparkling wine too. These include red sparkling Shiraz, a signature Aussie style, and ancestral method ‘pét-nats’, where the wine is bottled before the primary fermentation is finished, without the addition of any additional yeasts or sugars.
The island’s moderate maritime climate is cooled by prevailing westerly winds off the Southern Ocean, so it benefits from the ideal conditions to make bubbles with great balance, restraint and focus. Warm autumn days and cool nights allow the grapes to ripen slowly on the vine, which retain natural acidity while developing maximum varietal flavour.
‘It’s difficult not to notice how well Tasmania is performing in the sparkling wine sector with continual great wine reviews and other endorsements,’ Carr points out. ‘This region is proving capable of producing wines of global parity.’
|Australia Trade Tastings 2019
Tasmania, however, is not the only Australian region capable of generating top-quality fizz. In fact, excellent expressions can be found all around the country.
‘There are great examples from all the cool climate regions – Henty and the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Tumbarumba and Orange in New South Wales, and the Adelaide Hills in South Australia,’ says Carr. ‘This is just to name a few and does not give credit to all the quality producers from other sites.’
Today’s Australian sparkling wines are unique and diverse, displaying elegance, freshness, authenticity, restraint, purity of fruit, complexity and age worthiness. The distinct character of each producer’s terroir is overlaid with their own style, making Australian bubbles an unmissable addition to any wine list.
Sommeliers and buyers will have the opportunity to hear Carr discussing sparkling wines at the upcoming Australia Trade Tasting in London on 22 January – a key event in any wine professional’s calendar, where the winemaker will be leading a masterclass showcasing Australia’s best bubbles.
A wide range of sparkling wines will be available to sample at the Australia Trade Tastings 2019 in London (22 January), Edinburgh (28 January) and Dublin (30 January). The line-up includes some of Australia’s best traditional-method sparkling wines such as Jansz, Croser, Bird in Hand and Pirie, while unusual and alternative interpretations come from the likes of Dal Zotto, Alpha Box & Dice and Voyager Estate.
In addition to sparkling wines, the Australia Trade Tastings will feature more than 1000 other wines from 250 producers, some of whom will be flying over from Australia to pour their wines and share their stories.
Sign up to attend the Australia Trade Tastings 2019.
Photography: Wine Australia, Ewen Bell, House of Arras