Aussie sparkling

Australia is drinking more Champagne – over 6 million bottles were imported in 2013 – with favourable exchange rates and sharp prices (especially from the direct importers) being key drivers.

I’ve had several opportunities to taste Champagne recently, both in my routine tastings at home, and other places, including Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine’s big non-vintage tasting. I’ve also reviewed a lot of sparkling wines from Australia and other places, and this month uploaded about 120 reviews.

Aussie sparkling has a hard time competing with the best of the discounted Champagnes, dollar for dollar, but there’s no denying the quality exists. Often, when I taste the best local sparklings against Champagnes, and quality and price align, the only advantage for some Champagnes is the image.

The House of Arras has been written about here plenty of times (and I’ve reviewed another crop of these (tastings), led by their new entry-level $25 non-vintage, ‘A by Arras’ Premium Cuvée – tasting). But this month I was especially impressed by the new releases from Jansz. Made by the talented and very bubbly Natalie Fryar, these are all-Tasmanian, and are among the many brands and wineries owned by Hill Smith Family Estates. The style can be described as generously flavoured, and their natural full bodied style is augmented by the fact that they’re permitted plenty of time on the lees to build complexity.

I especially love the way they brand their wines ‘Methode Tasmanoise’. A new word enters the language, and why the hell not?

Jansz prices are also very reasonable. The nine year-old Late Disgorged Cuvée is truly exceptional value for money.

Just look at these:

2010 Vintage Rosé $48 – 90 pts (tasting)

2008 Vintage Cuvée $45 – 90 pts (tasting)

2008 Single Vineyard Chardonnay $65 – 92 pts (tasting)

2005 Late Disgorged Cuvée $50 – 95 pts (tasting)

I hasten to add that my ratings may seem modest compared to some reviewers, but the ratings are relative to the greatest prestige cuvées of Champagne, which are the greatest sparkling wines in the world. If we rate the best Australian bubblies 96 to 97, what do we give the 2004 Dom Perignon (previous tasting), 2002 Salon (previous tastings), 2004 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rosé (previous tasting) and 2000 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas Francois Billecart (previous tastings), which will be in next month’s tasting notes?

NB: to find the latest tastings, go to the ‘Browse’ page and sort by ‘sparkling’ and ‘date tasted’. You can further refine the sort by price, if you wish.

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