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I sat and tasted through three wines from top Tassie producer House of Arras with my good friend and fellow bubble-head Cat Barry at the weekend. Arras feature fairly regularly at Six Atmospheres – this is a producer with a real sense of style, turning out deeply flavourful wines that somehow always keep their feet moving lightly. Refreshment with complexity – that’s what great sparkling wine is about!
All three wines are Chardonnay-dominant, with fruit sourced from growers in pretty much every Tasmanian winegrowing region. Arras is all about immaculate blending seen through layers of complexity – barrels, malolactic fermentation and, crucially, time on lees. There are few better ranges to explore if you’re interested in the magic of autolysis (the breakdown of yeast in bottle after fermentation). The wines arrive fully-formed, journey completed, ready to be enjoyed.
We tasted two Grand Vintages, the 2007 and 2008, with 2007 showing a intense, richer profile and 2008 gliding along with more tension and restraint. The 2008 is a beautiful wine, perhaps even the equal of the 2004 Ed Carr Late Disgorged with its remarkable 13 years on lees.
78% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir. 7 years on lees.
An extra few years on cork has brought out the intensity of this wine, with some cooked lime and toffee apple showing over powerful candied grapefruit and dried peach. That lovely oyster/iodine sense of fresh air hangs around, tempering the richness here. A big character – the 08 steals the show, feeling tauter, shinier, and ultimately more engaging. Still this is a very fine sparkling wine.
65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir. 7 years on lees.
Another data point for this wine, and it is showing as brilliantly as ever. Such a good vintage! The balance point between fruit – candied citrus and dried apple, lemon posset, creamy strawberry – and the ‘Arras’ hallmarks of salt/iodine/toffee/florals is just right. Focused, intense but elegant and full of refreshment. It plays on and on.
13 years on lees. 69% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir. DIsgorged mid 2020.
This is remarkable stuff. Previously I have sometimes found this a bit too intense with the leesy characters, but this is beautifully honed and harmonious today. I think it is a good idea to open it a bit early and let it settle.
The aura of ‘white’ flavours – sea salt/iodine/sourdough starter, salty white butter and truffle hangs over charred candied lemon and apricot/peach fruit. Beautiful citric freshness and just the right level of unctuosity on the palate. It doesn’t obscure the line, length or refreshment value. We’re not seeing the toffeed/caramelised notes of the Grand Vintages tasted alongside.
I would drink this within a couple of years of disgorgement.