Delamere’s top-level sparklings

Fran Austin and Shane Holloway with their son in the vineyards (Photo: Northern Tasmania website)

It used to be said that high-quality traditional method sparkling wine was too expensive for boutique wineries to produce, without out-sourcing part of the process. This seems to be old hat today. Many boutique Australian wineries are now well-entrenched as top-level sparkling wine producers, and Tasmania is rich in such enterprises.

When Fran Austin and Shane Holloway bought the established Delamere vineyard from its founders, the Richardsons, a decade ago, few would have predicted they would turn a table-wine vineyard around to be sparkling focused within 10 years. Yet that’s how it is today.

Delamere is in the Pipers River subregion, which – thanks to the pioneering Pipers Brook Vineyard – is Tassie’s pre-eminent sparkling wine region.

It’s a two-winemaker team, rare in a boutique winery. Fran was previously winemaker at Hardys’ Bay Of Fires and Shane came to Tasmania to work in aquaculture but changed careers. He then completed a post-grad degree in winemaking.

Fran’s experience working for Hardys with Ed Carr of Arras honed her skills in the sparkling wine field.

Delamere is among the elite of Tassie sparkling producers, with four fine wines in the market: a 2012 Blanc de Blancs (AUD $65), 2014 Vintage Cuvée (AUD $50), Non-Vintage Cuvée (AUD $35) and Non-Vintage Rosé (AUD $35).

Each of them is adorned with a beautiful new label design by Adelaide designers Parallax.

Fran and Shane said:

“Marketing 101 says ‘never make wholesale changes to your label’ – especially when your biggest problem is maintaining supply in the face of growing demand. So why did we ignore this generally accepted wisdom and completely redevelop the packaging for the Delamere sparkling range?”

They answer their own question with this:

“As a wine business unique in Tasmania as the only winery predominantly focused on sparkling wine, whose wines are 100% estate grown and produced… it was time to create a label that reflected the time and attention to detail that goes into our labour-intensive sparkling wines, as well as the uniqueness that comes with single-site wines.”

They didn’t want to copy Champagne, but wanted a dressed-up look which communicated outstanding quality wines with a visual link to their table-wine range. The colour palette was green, white, black and gold, and this reflected colours found in the vineyard.

They settled on a lush green colour for the hood (the foil that covers the cork and neck of the bottle), and a bespoke pattern on the label, which takes its inspiration from the spotted plumage of the guinea fowl that inhabit the vineyard to control bugs.

“The delicate frond-work adds a gracefulness and romanticism to the very modern pattern, and ties in with the Delamere vine/guinea fowl emblem.”

It’s a stunning presentation befitting what’s in the bottle.

My favourite is the ’12 Blanc de Blancs, which spent five years on lees: a superb wine with hazelnut, peach, lemon aromas and a distinctive note of oyster-brine.

The NV Cuvée is also excellent value for a substantially cheaper and younger wine: pale pink with fresh nut and meringue aromas. It’s based on the 2016 vintage, with 18% reserve wines, mostly from 2014 and ’15, the blend having been aged on lees for 12 months.

These are bubblies that look, and taste, the part.

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