There has been a huge leap in quality and style in the sparkling wines being produced in Australia and New Zealand in the last ten years. What has changed is the source of the grapes, these coming now from the cold grape growing areas such as Tasmania, Victoria, New Zealand. This is where the delicate flavours and high acidity are best found. The high acidity in sparkling wines refreshes the drinker and the length of flavour comes in to play as sparkling wines are quite often drunk without food.
Most of the blends are of the traditional Champagne varieties pinot noir and chardonnay with pinot meunier sometimes in evidence in a minor supporting role. The varieties work well and have flavours that complement the characters imparted by the second fermentation process often referred to as methode traditionelle . This creates a more complex wine with developed flavours, depth and body.
Regional characteristics influence the flavours so even when you see wines of the same blend the wines created can be very different. Generally the pinot noir provides a full flavour with often hints of strawberry and other red wine characters. Chardonnay has more fragrance with lemon vanilla aromas and imparts crispness. Pinot meunier ages more quickly and can bring a more mature red wine overtone to a younger wine.
The Pipers River region lies in the Tamar Valley. This area is becoming known as Sparkling Tasmania, producing such greats as Kreglinger, Arras and Jansz sparkling wines.
Jansz is named in honour of Dutch Explorer Abel Jansz Tasman who was the first European to sight the island in 1642. The Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvee 2004 achieved best sparkling wine at the 2009 Sydney International Wine Show. Wine maker Natalie Fryar is busy at present judging the perfect moment for picking , ensuring all grapes have reached their optimum flavour levels for the current season. Following are some insights from Natalie who drives the vineyards philosophy of Methode Tasmanoise.