Mainland Australia has a number of pockets of top quality traditional method production. These tend to be the coolest areas with the longest growing seasons, making use of coastal, mountain or altitudinal effects to temper the climate.
The state of Victoria encompasses a wealth of top vineyard zones fanning out from the city of Melbourne. The Yarra Valley is perhaps the most famous, although only the coolest parts are suitable for sparkling wine production. Further inland the Pyrenees and Macedon Ranges have found favour for their cool, long seasons. The Mornington Peninsula, jetting out south of Melbourne, also has a fine reputation for still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that has also found its way into sparkling wine production.
Adelaide in South Australia is surrounded by renowned still wine producing regions. Recent forays into the coolest parts of the Adelaide Hills have shown potential for sparkling wine. The same can be said of New South Wales and Western Australia, where the hunt for cooler sites across the board is sure to keep sparkling wine in the picture. For now these remain minor players.
One area where still wine ripeness is not a hinderance on the mainland is in Australia’s unique tradition of sparkling shiraz. Produced via the traditional method across many of the country’s red wine regions, these immensely fruity, outgoing wines tend to feature a reasonable dosage designed to counteract the natural grip of the style. The end result is one of the wine world’s true originals.
Tasmania continues to stake its claim as the source of the finest quality Traditional Method Sparkling Wines in Australia. Lying further South and enjoying a cooler, edgier climate for grape growing than much of the mainland, Tasmania has made the transition from a source of supply for large Australian brands to the home of a number of world-class wineries.
Vineyard area is centred in the North and East of the island, away from the inhospitable Western coast. The Pipers River region in the North remains important, although many of the top wines are at least partially sourced from the cooler Coal River Valley to the South near Hobart.
Five Internationally-Available Australian Sparkling Wines
Arras Brut Elite
Jansz Premium Rosé
Pirie NV Cuvée
Taltarni Brut Taché
Peter Lehman ‘Black Queen’ Sparkling Shiraz
The natural brightness, freshness and acidity of the New Zealand style shows enormous untapped potential for Traditional Method Sparkling Wine. The dominance of Sauvignon Blanc is waning and, in a similar fashion to England, the last two decades have seen the emergence of a number of top quality producers.
Malborough, the epicentre of the Sauvignon Blanc boom, remains the home of most of the country’s top sparkling wine outfits. Many of these have banded together under the name ‘Méthode Malborough’ to promote their wines, made only from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and aged on lees for at least 18 months.
Central Otago has built its reputation on Pinot Noir, so it is not surprising that some of this has started to find its way into high quality sparkling wine production. With natural acidity and brightness of fruit the potential is certainly there, with a handful of producers starting to garner international attention.
New Zealand’s wine reputation was build on expressive fruit flavours. It would not a be a gross over-generalisation to suggest this is retained, with a certain brightness and cleanliness, in the best sparkling wines. Their international reputation will surely be on the increase if more examples are widely exported.
Five Exported New Zealand Sparklers
No.1 Family Estate No.1 Reserve
Cloudy Bay Pelorus
Hunters Miru Miru
Akarua Rosé Brut
Nautilus Estate Cuvée Malborough Brut