Meet the winemaker

Australian producers on making sparkling wine

By Halliday Promotion

Discover what goes into some of Australia's most successful examples. 

Prosecco, sparkling shiraz or traditional method – Australian sparkling wines are extremely diverse. Regions around the country produce crisp, complex and delicate examples that have continued to gain prominence as an integral part of the industry. Here, winemakers from five acclaimed producers detail their love affair with the effervescent styles, and how they like to enjoy theirs.

Jennifer Doyle – Jansz, TAS
H. How would you describe Tasmanian sparkling wine?
J. Tasmania is unquestionably Australia’s premier sparkling wine region. The island’s pristine environment, cool climate and rich soils combine to create ideal growing conditions for naturally elegant, intensely flavoured and aromatic wines. Made in a sparkling style, Pinot Noir is delicate, complex and refined with delicious, savoury notes and acidity for a refreshing mouth-watering finish. Our Vintage Rosé is perfect as an aperitif, or paired with any course of a special meal. Some of our favourites are natural oysters and fresh seafood, a creamy mushroom risotto or even a dessert like a poached quince tart.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
J. I always like to see the reflection of our beautiful Tasmanian environment in our wines, and this starts with a healthy, biodiverse vineyard. Pinot noir grapes provide the stunning argyle pink colour, and the cooling sea breezes off Bass Strait and warm sunshine through the days give us the iconic Jansz flavours of strawberries and Turkish delight. Our Vintage wines are made using method traditionnelle, spending six months in French oak followed by secondary fermentation in bottle. Our Vintage Rosé is aged on lees for three years to develop complexity and a fine creamy texture.

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Robert Heywood – Clover Hill, TAS
H.  How do you approach the winemaking process?
R. We aim to show the regional terroir of our vineyard in Pipers River Tasmania. Our Blanc de Blancs is the latest pick of our chardonnay with low yields and great concentration of flavour and texture – It’s fermented at low temperatures and undergoes Malolactic fermentation while aging on lees. We are forever evolving in our winemaking techniques to best represent our fantastic vineyard, from the use of oak in our reserve wines to yeast selection and proportional make up of varietals in our blends. Sparkling winemaking and viticulture are an ever adapting landscape where we are always looking to improve.

H. What is unique about your product and how it is made?
R. Hand harvested from the Clover Hill A block, the chardonnay selected for our Blanc de Blancs was classed as the best on the property. This is a method traditionnelle sparkling which has a minimum five years aging on lees before its considered ready to be released – it is the epitome of the Clover Hill house style and vineyard terroir, and a true reflection of the purity of the premium estate-grown chardonnay from our Lebrina Vineyard in Northeast Tasmania.

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Harry Rigney – The Ridge North Lilydale, TAS
H. Why do you love making sparkling wine?
H. Tasmania produces remarkable sparkling wines. The combination of cool-grown chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier drawn from this cool site show why slow is the way to grow. These wines captures the traditional essence of Tasmanian produce – inimitable quality. Our Tasmanian Traditional Sparkling is truly representative of sparkling wines of the Pipers Region, North-East Tasmania. Crisp and structured characters emerge from the firm residual acidity at harvest, a feature of the altitude of this vineyard (Tassie’s highest). This combination produces cool summer nights, which lock in acidity through ripening.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
H. This wine is made with strictly traditional methods, allowing the fruit to convey characteristics imparted in the wine through terroir and precise viticulture. It is the fruit of our vines which makes our Tasmanian Traditional unique. Winemaking with fruit from this vineyard is an exercise in skilful exploration and discovery; nurturing through classic and traditional methods the development of vineyard choices and care. At essence, it is a function of our altitude, latitude, and attitude.

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John Waldron – Risky Business, WA
H. What do you love about prosecco?
J. I love prosecco as it has a light and fruity flavour and for that reason, it is an easy-to-drink sparkling. It is refreshing in its simplicity. Risky Business prosecco is a wine that is suitable for any occasion – weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and New Year's. Delicately balanced with subtle hints of fresh pears, stone fruit and citrus blossom, it creates a soft and finely textured palate completed seamlessly with lively bubbles.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
J. We focus on fruit quality and getting the bubbles right. Cool climate King Valley fruit sourced from the base of the snowfields is similar to Italy’s Prosecco Road at the base of the mountains, growing our grapes in crisp conditions. Balancing levels of sugar and acity is important however we take the next step and focus on the bubbles Getting the bubbles right effects the delivery of the complex flavours , we strive for a soft mousse. Machined harvested at night, cool fermentation with Champagne yeast, small amount of lees contact. Bottle-ready wine is fermented for a 2nd time in a pressure tank, for a soft and creamy mousse

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Nic Bowen – Howard Park, WA
H. Why do you love working with sparkling wine?
N. Sparkling winemaking is one of my passions and was my focus for the last 12 years at House of Arras. I love the multifaceted challenge to construct these wines and then to enjoy them after such a long time after maturation is a really rewarding pursuit. Unlike other types of winemaking, sparkling is by its nature more interventional. You have to commit to a plan, have a long-term view and have a meticulous eye for detail. I like to layer complexity into my wines step by step whether it’s during base wine production, triaging or disgorging.

H. What is unique about your product and how it is made?
N. Jeté is one of the few West Australian methode traditionelle sparklings from one of the coolest and highest viticultural sites, Mount Barrow in Mount Barker. The wine is Chardonnay dominant incorporating barrel and malolactic fermented components. Tirage age is for a minimum of 24 months but usually longer. The inspiration behind the collection is also unique. What started as an obsession and an experiment developed into an ode to Jeff Burch’s siblings and their careers as ballet dancers.

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This article was produced in partnership with the featured wineries.

Top image credit: Wine Australia