Aussie sparkling can range from commercial and deservedly cheap, through to sublime. The sublime wines in focus for this week are:
2005 House of Arras Rosé, and what a gorgeous rosé this is. Winemaker Ed Carr is undisputedly Australia’s greatest sparkling winemaker. With grapes hand-picked in the Lower Derwent, Coal River Valley and the Upper Derwent, this is a 75/25 blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. It’s a soft salmon pink colour in the glass, the nose complex and suggestive of wild strawberries, roasted mandarin and Marrakesh market spice. The palate is great – it’s a mix of serious texture, structure and length, but it’s bright, and the Tassie acidity is refreshing. This wine spends an extended 6 years on tirage – colossal time investment when you consider the pricetag, the soft colour coming from the addition of still pinot noir at the blending stage. A wonderful wine: poise, grace and delicacy. Gold medals at 2015 Adelaide Wine Show and 2015 National Wine Show.
95pts and $80.
2008 Clover Hill Rose
A completely different wine in terms of style and structure than the Arras, and they were looked at side by side. The Clover Hill spends 3 years on lees, and is a blend of Pinot Noir 87% + Pinot Meunier 13% sourced from the Clover Hill Vineyard in Pipers River. This has a lower residual sugar (6.5g/L) than the Arras, yet it is richer/rounder in style. The dosage is made from reserve wines aged in oak – a serious investment in quality. In the glass the wine is a pale salmon pink, the flavour is hugely intense – spicy, dry and rich. The colour comes from gentle maceration of the pinot noir, with a small amount of pinot meunier added before bottling. This is serious, will age, and at this stage is a dense, savoury, almost muscular sparkling, more tertiary than the Arras, but curiously, showing wild strawberries, raspberry and Turkish rosewater alongside the spice. These two sparklings split the tasting down the middle in terms of preference – both equally loved for different reasons.
94pts and $55.