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The Bubbles Review

for people who love champagne and all things sparkling!

Category: Sparkling Cellar Doors

Tassie Sparkling Cellar Doors

Tassie Sparkling Cellar Doors

I love a chance to visit Tasmania. I have trekked through some of its great natural landscapes, the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, Bay of Fires lodge walk, and Freycinet looking over the beautiful Wineglass Bay. But it is not just the scenery that I love; they also do food and wine exceptionally well! 

In particular, they make great bubbly! Tasmania’s reputation for producing some of Australia’s best sparkling wines is increasing each year, thanks to the pristine cool climate, which is very similar to the Champagne region of France and perfect for growing grapes for sparkling. Such is the reputation of sparkling wines from Tasmania, according to Tyson Stelzer, award- winning wine writer and reviewer “No region anywhere on the planet outside of Champagne itself makes sparkling as exceptionally as Tasmania”. High praise indeed!

My research for this blog was made up of a series of trips in 2018 and 2019 (as well as attending Effervescence a festival of Tasmanian Sparkling wine). In contrast to mainland Australia, Tasmania as an island state is compact, but it is bigger than you think, it is not possible to cover everything in a few days.  For the purposes of this blog I have broken it down into a few regions: the Tamar Valley (north near Launceston), East Coast (Freycinet), and Hobart and surrounds

As always, I suggest that you check the winery website to confirm opening times, tasting fees, and to make bookings for tours or meals, which I suggest that you do for most of the Cellar Doors with a restaurant.

There are so many sparklings on tasting here, a visit to the Cellar Doors really is a bubbly paradise!  I suggest that you will need a designated driver, and there are a few local tour operators that offer wine tours, which is always a good way to find your way around, Uber is available in Hobart and has now arrived in Launceston, and local taxis could also get you to the Cellar Doors that are located near to one of these cities.

Tamar Valley

The Tamar Valley Wine Route covers the wineries in this region, I realised this can even be broken into a few smaller regions: Relbia just south of Launceston, West Tamar, East Tamar and Pipers River in the North East of the Tamar.

The area enjoys a significant climatic advantage that is unique to the rest of Australia; that of very low day time temperatures caused from the local geographical features. The waters of Bass Strait cool the hot northerly winds, while the cool southerlies gain heat as they cross the island. Cool temperatures and significant sunshine hours make for ideal conditions to retain delicate aromas in the fruit. The frosty and sometimes wild conditions of winter give way to clear, crisp, blue-sky days through the growing season, allowing the fruit to ripen slowly and evenly, assuring the lingering acidity essential to producing premium cool climate wines.

Relbia

Josef Chromy

This Cellar Door is around a 15 minute drive from Launceston. Josef Chromy OAM has been instrumental to the Tasmanian food and wine industry, having owned and developed some of Tasmania’s leading wineries including Rochecombe (now Bay of Fires), Jansz, Heemskerk and Tamar Ridge.

In December 2007, at 76, when most people would be thinking about easing up, Joe launched Josef Chromy Wines.  Joe fled his war-torn Czech village in 1950 as a penniless 19-year-old. “I came here with nothing but hope and ambition over 50 years ago. Tasmanians welcomed me and, with their help, I have been rewarded for the challenges and risks I have taken in both the meat and wine industries”.

Arrival at the Cellar Door rewards you with a venue that includes a stunning restaurant, overlooking a picturesque lake and vineyard. It is listed as one of the Top 10 Cellar Doors of Australia and the restaurant has been awarded a Chefs Hat in the Good Food Guide.  The menu features locally sourced produce, and you can enjoy dining in the restaurant or purchase a Cheese or Meat/Cheese Platters to enjoy in the grounds.

I visited during Effervescence Tasmania. The vineyard catered for this event very well, and a few of the smaller Tassie sparkling producers told me that they use the facilities at Josef Chromy and the expertise of chief winemaker Jeremy Dineen to make their sparklings. I visited the Cellar Door again in early 2019 and enjoyed a delightful meal in the restaurant.   There are a few sparklings available for tasting from the Josef Chromy and Pepik ranges, or available by the glass in the restaurant.

Bookings are required for tasting groups of 6 or more.  Behind the scenes wine tours are also available to be booked on the website.

On my recent visit, I got to meet the man himself! Josef Chromy and Natalie Pickett from The Bubbles Review

https://www.josefchromy.com.au/

West Tamar

Tamar Ridge Cellar Door (Pirie)

Tamar Ridge Cellar Door is high in the hills overlooking the beautiful Tamar River.  I was very happy to find lots of sparkling on tasting and to learn the story of the Pirie range.  Pirie is named after Dr Andrew Pirie who has been a very influential figure in the Tasmanian wine industry, initiating and building some of Tasmania’s largest and most important vineyards and wineries including Pipers Brook Vineyard, and Ninth Island which he co-founded with his brother David in 1974 and Pirie sparkling in 1999.

Andrew Pirie no longer owns the Pirie label as it was sold to Brown Brothers around eight years ago, but he continues to be involved as a consultant and ambassador for the brand. He now has a new vineyard Apogee (more about that later), consults on wine industry development, conducts climate research and is writing a book on wine terroir.

I tasted the:

Pirie NV Sparkling, made up of around 12 different reserve wines, 65/35 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir. Fine persistent bead and minerality.

Pirie 2011 Vintage Sparkling, 50/50 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, rich and toasty with great length.

Pirie 2010 Sparkling Rose, 100% Pinot Noir, very faint salmon colour, almost a Blanc de Noirs, rich palate and complex fruit.

Pirie 2009 Blanc de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, lovely honey toast nose, creamy, complex with a long layered finish. 

Resident chefs Hubert & Dan, provide fresh, seasonal platters with local and house made cheeses, salmon and charcuterie to complement the tasting experience.

I made this my lunch spot and sat out on the deck with a view of the river through the trees, a platter and a glass of the 2011 Vintage whilst I made my notes. The perfect office!

http://www.tamarridge.com.au/

Moores Hill

A small producer embracing innovation “We make wine powered by the sun” in 2017 they built Tasmania’s first 100% off grid winery and follow traditional small batch wine making philosophies with modern winemaking techniques. The small Cellar Door, is a cottage with a great verandah with views out over the vineyards.  Tasting plates featuring specially selected, local produce are available to complement the wines.

I met Fiona who manages the Cellar Door, and sales and marketing and her husband Julian, who is the winemaker.

I tasted the NV Sparkling Blanc de Blancs. Single vineyard, hand vinified, hand bottled and hand disgorged. It is fine, crisp, and creamy cuvee and has been aged on yeast lees for 12 months. They recommend “Enjoy with oysters and good friends” which sounds like a good idea to me!

Since my visit I notice that this wine won a Silver Medal at the 2018 Tasmanian Wine Show. I also tasted a Blanc de Noirs from their sister vineyard Native Point which is on the other side of the Tamar and notice that they now have their own Moores Hill Blanc de Noirs available for purchase.

https://www.mooreshill.com.au/

Holm Oak

This small rustic Cellar Door, is located a bit off the beaten track.  The staff here were very friendly and shared a bit about the story of this family owned winery.  They also shared some great tips on other sparkling Cellar Doors in the area.  I tasted the NV Sparkling which is a 60/40 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay. Lovely crisp citrus and green able with spicy berry notes from the Pinot Noir. 

Local cheeses, terrines and salmon products are available to purchase, to create your own platter with some lovely spots for a picnic with vineyard and rural views.  Some weekends the Bird n’ Herd BBQ food truck is also on site.

http://www.holmoakvineyards.com.au/

Goaty Hill

This wasn’t on my list but I dropped in here on the off chance that they might have a bubbles, and I was rewarded with one.  It is a small Cellar Door. The partners are close friends from two families who chose the Tamar Valley as the place to start their winemaking. I met Tony one of the owners who was very friendly and introduced me to the Goaty Hill Sparkling, which is described as Vintage, Baked Apple, Moreish. They also serve Gourmet Platters and Cheese Plates, available daily from 11.30 – 3.00 and can be designed for 2 people or more. 

https://www.goatyhill.com/

East Tamar (including Pipers River)

Delamere

A small family friendly Cellar Door. This family business owned by Fran Austin and Shane Holloway, who are partners in wine and in life and they are producing a great range of quality sparklings.

“Delamere represents to me the opportunity to produce wines from the vineyard through to the glass, working alongside family with some of the finest quality fruit in the country.”

— Shane Holloway

Predominantly focused on Traditional Method sparkling wines, that are 100% estate grown and produced — a Grower/Producer in the true sense of the term, they describe that they are on a journey to create a unique range of handcrafted single site sparkling wines.

I met Alice the Cellar Door manager, and when I told her about The Bubbles Review, she found both Fran and Shane who generously spent time with me to share more about the story of the vineyard. Fran at the time, was juggling maternity leave with winemaking duties.  I could clearly see the passion and dedication of this hardworking team for achieving their goals of making sparkling wines of exceptional quality, and unique in character.

I tasted a few from this range:

Non Vintage Cuvée – a blend of vintages with the majority coming from 2014 vintage, with 30% of reserve wine adding complexity and depth. 2014 yields were particularly small, giving wonderful concentration of flavour. Around two years aging on lees.

Non Vintage Sparkling Rosé – pale salmon colour and an aroma of fresh strawberry and musk, 100% hand harvested Pinot Noir with reserve wine from 2016 adding complexity and around two years aging on lees.

2014 Sparkling Cuvée – the 2014 vintage delivered very small crops of exceptional quality and will be highly sought after. Rich and complex, opens with honey and develops through the palate, with stone fruits and fine line of minerality, a lingering and complex finish. Around three years aging on less.

2012 Vintage Sparkling Rosé – 100% Pinot Noir. Five years aging on lees and a low dosage of less than 2 grams allows the voluptuous flavours of the fruit to shine through.

2013 Blanc de Blancs – 2013 was something of a rollercoaster with some very warm, dry days and rain before vintage but this all lead to some intense flavours in the fruit and high levels of complexity. 5 years aging on lees and a low dosage of less than 2 grams.

2008 Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay. 10 years aging on lees and a low dosage of less than 2 grams allows the voluptuous flavours of the fruit to shine through and the clear acid backbone to be a focal point of this wine.

Local produce is available to purchase to ‘pick your own picnic’ emphasis is on seasonal produce that suits a picnicker’s palate. You can enjoy under the pergola, with the different tasting options.

https://www.delamerevineyards.com.au/

Jansz

The Jansz Tasmania vineyard sits to the northeast of the island state within the Pipers River region of the Tamar Valley. This cool little corner is known colloquially as ‘Sparkling Tasmania’.

I learnt a few things about this area on my visit. Temperatures here are moderated by close proximity to Bass Strait. The ocean breezes keep the temperature up during winter – minimising risk of frost, and down in summer – allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and develop intense, delicate and refined flavours.

The soils are also an advantage, resting on a bed of pure, red, free-draining basalt soils, the Jansz vineyard is the perfect site to grow grapes for world-class sparkling wines.

Jansz has evolved as one of Australia’s most respected premium sparkling wines and has trademarked the term Méthode Tasmanoise.

“It could be argued we’re completely mad growing grapes in the wild and unforgivingly cold Tasmanian environment. But there’s méthode to our madness.

The climatic conditions of the Jansz vineyard rival the famed French wine region of Champagne. In fact, it was originally with French contribution that Jansz became Tasmania’s first sparkling made using the traditional Méthode.

Today we call it, Méthode Tasmanoise. It’s the essence of a partnership between the environment and our winemaker. Just as the cool Tasmanian climate creates spectacular beauty in nature, it is also instrumental in the creation of art in bottles.”

In a previous blog on Favourite Aussie Sparklings I included Jansz as one of my ‘go to’ labels.  I was so happy to be here at the vineyard and was pleased to meet the Cellar Door manager Maxine, already a subscriber to The Bubbles Review who was excited to see me and provided some great information to add to my notes. Maxine told me that it is still a family owned operation, a handcrafted and passionate brand who along with some of the other founders in this region (and supported by the study by Dr Andrew Pirie), recognised the similarity of this area with the Champagne region and the opportunity to create quality sparkling wines.  With added input from Jean Baptiste from the Louis Roederer Champagne House it is easy to see why Jansz has evolved as one of Australia’s premium sparkling wines.

The Cellar Door is the Jansz Tasmania Wine Room and includes an Interpretive Centre.  It is adjacent to the vineyard, overlooking a picturesque lake, cheese boards are available to purchase to enjoy with tastings.

There are around 6 sparklings on tasting and available for purchase. I tasted the:

Jansz Tasmania Cuvee 2012 50/50 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, spend 6 months in oak before aged for 5 years on lees. Complex aromas, lemon peach and hazelnuts. Layered and elegant.

Jansz Tasmania Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 this Blanc de Blancs is not something that is made every year. It is limited release with each bottle numbered, as the name suggests it is from a single block of Chardonnay at the Jansz vineyard. The wine is 100% aged in French Oak and then spent 6 years in second fermentation in the bottle (aged on lees). Very pale gold colour, layers of citrus, almond nougat, with creamy texture and chalky long palate.

https://www.jansz.com.au/

Pipers Brook

The Jansz and Pipers Brook vineyards share a driveway, and you will see a sign pointing to Pipers Brook just after the entrance. An unmade driveway over the hill through the vineyard, reveals ocean views as you drive through the vines to arrive at the architecturally designed winery building. At Pipers Brook you can taste Pipers Brook, Ninth Island and Kreglinger wines.

The café was closed for refurbishment when I was there, but has since re-opened featuring fresh, local Tasmanian produce.

In 2016 winemaker Natalie Fryar (formerly Jansz) joined the Kreglinger team “I’m so excited to be working with some of the best sparkling fruit in Australia found right here on the estate at Pipers Brook.” Natalie said “It will be my honour and challenge to oversee the sparkling program and from what I’ve experienced already, wine lovers are in for a real treat with our upcoming releases.”

There are already some great results. In his 2018 Sparkling Report, Tyson Stelzer listed the Ninth Island NV Rosé as the Sparkling Wine of The Year Under $25 (a great achievement for a Rosé) with Ninth Island Non Vintage Cuvee listed as a runner up for the title. The acclaim follows the Gold Medal win for the NV Rosé at the 2018 Tasmanian Wine Show.

Ninth Island Non-Vintage Sparkling, blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, this is another  good quality sparkling at a great price.

Ninth Island Non-vintage Sparkling Rosé, rose petals, fresh strawberry, spice and pouring cream. The blend showcases the Pinot Noir, supported by fresh zesty structure of Chardonnay. Rich layered palate.

There were several sparklings available for tasting at the Cellar Door. I tasted:

Pipers Brook 2015 Vintage Cuvee, lemon, rich brioche, oyster shells.

Kreglinger 2004 Brut de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, a lovely Blanc de Blancs, full palate, depth of flavours.

Kreglinger 2006 Brut Rosé, 100% Pinot Noir, rose petals, ripe strawberries, cream with a great dry finish. 

www.kreglingerwineestates.com

House of Arras and Bay of Fires

Bay of Fires’ cellar door is the Tasmanian home of Bay of Fires, House of Arras sparkling wines.

Bay of Fires Wines was founded in the 1990s by a team of dedicated winemaking and viticultural professionals, who believed Tasmania would one day become the pre-eminent Australian region to produce cool-climate Tasmanian wines.

The philosophy for Arras sparkling wines is to create world class sparkling wines. Created by Australia’s most awarded sparkling winemaker, Ed Carr, outstanding fruit is sourced across Tasmania’s premium cold climate regions. The art of blending sparkling wine is one that can only be mastered by perfecting the craft, patience to allow the wine to mature at its own pace and the experience to know when it is at its best. The entire portfolio of Arras sparkling wines are held back between 3-10 yrs to give these wines the distinction, quality and maturity they require to be world class, unique sparkling wines.

Over the past 20 years Ed Carr has amassed more than 100 trophies in Australian wine shows including 21 consecutive “Best Sparkling White Wine of Show” trophies at capital city wine shows. In 2018 he became the only non-champenois to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships in London, alongside the legendary chef de caves of Charles Heidsieck, Dom Pérignon, Billecart-Salmon, Taittinger, Perrier-Jouët, Lanson and Pommery. To see Tasmanian sparkling acknowledged in such company on the global stage is an amazing achievement!

At the ‘Tasmanian Sparkling Takes on the World’ Masterclass that I attended at Effervescence Tasmania, in a blind tasting of eight sparklings including a few big name champagnes, the Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2003 was overwhelming voted the favourite.

It was Ed’s foresight and firm belief in the potential of Tasmania as Australia’s best sparkling fruit resource that was the driving force behind the company’s 1995 decision to produce Tasmanian prestige cuvée, evolving into the House of Arras range. December 2002 marked the release of the 1998 Arras – the first vintage made from 100% Tasmanian fruit.

The Cellar Door experience offers gardens with sweeping views over the vines, the winery and Pipers River. With local cheese and artisan pizzas to enjoy with the wines, this is one of the few sparkling wineries that served food in this area, so you could plan for a lunch stop here. There is also a seated Premium Arras Tasting Experience.

The staff here were great, I met Alicia and she generously shared her knowledge of the wines, the vineyards and the local region.

I tasted:

Arras Grand Vintage 2008 (just changed over from 2007). 65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, aged for 7 years, complex full palate wine, lingering finish, aromas of toast, honeycomb, sourdough and nougat.

Arras Rose 2006 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay (with a dash of Pinot Meunier), a light salmon colour, it is barely pink, lovely savoury flavours balanced with ripe strawberries.

https://www.bayoffireswines.com.au/Visit-Us/Cellar-Door

Clover Hill

Clover Hill is one of Australia’s very few premium sparkling houses solely producing sparkling wines in the traditional method. With the intention to produce a refined sparkling wine to rival that of great Champagne houses, Clover Hill was established in 1986 on the site of an old dairy farm in north eastern Tasmania. These first plantings produced Clover Hill’s debut vintage in 1991. Since this time, Clover Hill has become synonymous with elegance and refinement, gaining a reputation of uncompromising quality. A new Cellar Door opened in late 2017.

A long-time favourite of mine, I am in good company as it was chosen by royalty when ‘our own’ Princess Mary chose Clover Hill Vintage Brut to be served to celebrate her wedding to Prince Frederick. It was also selected as one of the four iconic Australian wines served to Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh during their Australian visit in 2011.

Clover Hill is acknowledged as one of Australia’s finest sparkling producers. With the cool climate and growing conditions of Tasmania being remarkably similar to that of the Champagne region of France, Clover Hill has been able to produce sparkling wines of quality, elegance and finesse.

Ian, the Cellar Door Manager discussed some of the background of the new building, the owners of Clover Hill (the Goelet family from France, who also own Taltarni in Victoria) wanted a Cellar Door to reflect the quality of the brand.

The new Cellar Door stays true to the 3 pillars of Clover Hill: terroir, method and blend.  This beautiful architect designed building with rammed earth walls made from the local terroir, features a tasting room that has doors opening up onto the deck with panoramic views of the vineyard, natural forests and Bass Strait.  Inside is a relaxing lounge area with plush ottomans, a tasting bar and a VIP room for Club Prestige members wanting a peaceful moment.

A perfect place to sit and taste your way through the Clover Hill range!

“The neomodern building sits at the top of our sloping vineyard so your eye is led down into the vines – which we encourage visitors to take a wander through – and on a clear day you can see the white caps of Bass Strait.”

Clover Hill’s commitment to excellence has been recognised with numerous awards including being inducted into the Australian Sparkling Hall of Honour in 2017, twice awarded Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year, and the Gourmet Traveller 2018 Cellar Door Awards – Best Tasting Experience.

Clover Hill is planted solely to the traditional sparkling wine varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. These varieties are all trellised in traditional close proximity plantings. A strong focus on Chardonnay is acknowledged and rewarded with Tyson Stelzer naming the Clover Hill 2005 Cuvée Prestige Late Disgorged his Blanc de Blancs of 2018.

Some of the wines featured are available for regular tastings, some with the VIP Experience and some you won’t find in stores as they are only for purchase at Cellar Door.

Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvée Rosé, NON-VINTAGE – 54% Chardonnay, 43% Pinot Noir, 3% Pinot Meunier – delicate salmon pink colour, with a soft and creamy mousse. Strawberry and dark cherry notes marry perfectly with the wine’s fresh brioche characters. The wine is well structured, with sweet red berries and cream enveloping the palate.

Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvée, NON-VINTAGE – 53% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier- Delicate and soft mousse, on the nose, notes of bright citrus, fresh apples, brioche and cream. On the palate, crisp apple pie and lime characters. Great drive and length.

Clover Hill VINTAGE 2013 – 63% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Meunier blend. The palate is delicate and creamy, with fine bead and persistent mousse, light straw colour indicative of a chardonnay, has developed a golden hue during its three years on tirage. On the nose, it displays citrus and red berries, with a hint of toasted brioche. This is a delightful wine.

Clover Hill Cuvée Exceptionnelle Blanc de Blancs, VINTAGE 2012 – 100% Chardonnay. The 2012 Blanc de Blancs is a pale straw colour with a fine, persistent bead and mousse. Aromas of fresh melon, underpinned by toasty notes and sweet cinnamon. The palate is bold and rich with flavours of fresh citris with a persistent soft minerality the lingers on the finish.

Clover Hill Cuvée Exceptionnelle Vintage Rosé, VINTAGE 2013 – 100% Pinot Noir, limited release, is crafted via extended skin contact of Pinot Noir to create a soft, pink colour. Fine persistent bead and mouth filling mousse, rich flavours of strawberry and citrus with hints of brioche, with a fine crisp finish.

Clover Hill Cuvée Prestige Brut. VINTAGE 2005 – 100% Chardonnay. This limited-release Late Disgorged Brut. A vibrant rich straw colour with a persistent fine bead are precursors to the refined and gentle foaming mousse.  An assortment of fresh lemon curd and brioche, developed almond and toasty characters, it is the epitome of Clover Hill’s signature house style – a true combination of passion and patience.

Cheese platters are available every day and share plates with seasonal local produce are available on weekends.

The Clover Hill Elite VIP Experience , is a guided tasting experience and a great way to taste the range, which includes the limited release Exceptionelle and Prestige Blanc de Blancs, tasting plate and wine credit. It is $75pp and must be booked in advance.

Apogee

I mentioned earlier that we would learn more about Dr Andrew Pirie of the Pirie label whose name appears over and over in the history of sparkling wine in Tasmania. Aside from his continued research, published studies and consulting work, he has established the Apogee label.

The goal to produce very high-quality wines from a small, hand tended area that is operated on a commercial and sustainable basis. The belief is that the combination of the highly researched site with the latest knowledge of terroir theory is leading to wines that are very expressive of the terroir.

“A search for the ‘terroir’ of the famous French cool-climate areas of northern France in Australia led me to buy land in partnership with my brother David, in northern Tasmania in December 1973. This search study became part of my doctoral thesis on viticulture completed at the University of Sydney in 1977. The vineyard was named Pipers Brook Vineyard after the local brook and is now part of history. Pipers Brook’s second-label Ninth Island became the most widely distributed and recognised label from Tasmania. Pirie was the Pipers Brook sparkling wine label and was first made in 1995. It became the most awarded of all the wines I made and has been drunk by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on at least two occasions.

“I have continued to research wine climates and these days the knowledge is more precise in predicting ‘terroir’. In a paper at the International Cool Climate Symposium in Hobart in 2012 I selected the best index for predicting grapevine ripening in cool climates. When the opportunity to apply this learning arose again recently, I could not resist planting another sparkling wine vineyard in what appeared to be a grand cru sparkling site.”

The vineyard name Apogee, means the highest point.

The philosophy behind Apogee:

1. Use the latest climatology to locate a perfect ripening location for sparkling wine using the classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier with a small amount of Pinot Gris known as Fromenteau in Champagne.

2. Produce only Single Vineyard wines so that the output fully reflects the distinguished vineyard conditions and intensive vineyard manipulations.

3. Restrict the scale to 2 hectares, which is the average size of a holding in Champagne. This is deliberately chosen to test the theory that the ability to manage vineyards perfectly limits their scale.

The Apogee project has had several objectives, the main being to produce traditional method sparkling that rivals Champagne. Others are to demonstrate how the latest knowledge of terroir can pin-point great sites and to show that single site sparklings can produce the best wine.

The Cellar Door is tiny, and Andrew wasn’t there on my visit, but the friendly family Labrador greeted me and someone came out from the house to show me the Cellar Door.  Apogee, the highest point is not just about a location, but also the zenith of accomplishment. Andrew Pirie, now in his 70s, is working on the culmination of his career, which is all about quality rather than quantity.  Only vintage wine is created and I tasted these two on my visit:

2014 Deluxe Vintage Brut. Light gold with fine mousse and a suitable foamy collar when poured.  Aromas range from bready, yeasty overtones through to perfumed red fruits and lemon-rind with a faint salty oyster-shell character which is part of our terroir.  Full palate with notes of toasty honey honey with a racy lemon finish towards the end. A vineyard blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.

Vintage Deluxe Rosé 2014. Light salmon pink (almost rose gold) with fine mousse. aromas of cherry, raspberry and musk are typical of this vineyard and are found in this wine. The palate shows strong midpalate richness, faint salty oyster shell with cherry and floral tones.  A vineyard blend of 88% pinot noir and 12% chardonnay was hand-picked and whole bunch pressed, soaked on skins (saigné).

Apogee is located very close to Clover Hill, and you could plan your itinerary to visit to the two of them. You may want to check in advance if Apogee will be open on the day of your visit, or take a chance and check to see if the signboard is out the front on the day.

https://www.apogeetasmania.com/

East Coast

Freycinet Vineyard

Founded in 1976, they have been producing sparkling since 1993. Geoff and Susan Bull cleared the site in 1978, planted the first vines in 1979 and established the first commercial winery on the East Coast. They were early pioneers in a new region which years later revealed exciting quality potential in wines. The region now boasts over a dozen different vineyards.

The Freycinet Vineyard and Winery is family owned with daughter Lindy Bull and her partner Claudio Radenti taking over the family tradition of gently handcrafting the wines. 

I tasted the 2011 Radenti Sparkling which is 69/31 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir. It has spent 4 years on lees, I tasted green apple, citrus and some spicy notes that flow and merge with creamy, soft yeasty complexity and textures.  The Radenti sparkling heritage has received multiple awards and the 2011 had just won gold at the Tasmanian wine show. 

Lovely deck overlooking the vineyard to enjoy a drink and the view.

http://www.freycinetvineyard.com.au/

Devils Corner

“At Devil’s Corner we are dedicated to creating the finest wines imaginable, but in doing so we’ve had to make a home in one of the wildest places in Tasmania.”

There is an amazing view from this Cellar Door. “It’s a beautiful struggle, being caught between Devil’s Corner and the deep blue sea.”

It is a great lunch stop, as there is food made from local produce at Tombolo Café, fresh seafood from The Fishers and you can relax on the deck with a glass of wine to match, overlooking magnificent views of the Hazards and ocean.  There is also a fun lookout to climb. 

This was a very busy Cellar Door and definitely worth a stop for the view and something to eat.  There is only one sparkling produced under this label, the Devil’s Corner, Sparkling Cuvée NV. Fresh crunchy apple, and a touch of citrus. It is lively and fresh in the mouth with a dry refreshing finish.  80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. The second fermentation is done using the tank method, also known as the Charmat method, which produces bright, fresh fruit characters, in contrast the traditional method which produces a more complex flavour profile from aging on yeast in the bottle.

Devil’s Corner, like the Pirie sparkling label, is also owned by Brown Brothers.


Spring Vale

Spring Vale Vineyard’s small and intimate Cellar Door is actually an old stable, which was built by convict labour in 1842 and is now heritage listed.

The stable has been preserved (with minor restorations necessary) and is now a unique cellar door building with a very historic feel.

The 2016 “Salute” Sparkling comprises 72% Pinot Noir, 23% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier. The aromas show fresh strawberry and lemon zest and a hint of vanilla. Fresh berry fruit give some sweetness to the palate which is nicely balanced with Granny Smith apple, leading to a dry, savoury finish. A classic aperitif sparkling, delicious with Tassie oysters.

No café on site, but you can purchase a cheese box. There was a nice little picnic area set up with a tent for shade looking over the vineyard. 

http://www.springvalewines.com/

Milton

With a focus on producing small quantities of handmade wine Milton are the winners of the 2017 Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year award.

There are two sparklings produced, but unfortunately neither of them are available for tasting.  They are available to purchase by the glass and take into the Sophie’s restaurant which shares the space.  Located in a lovely weatherboard building with big verandahs with views out over the lake and vineyard.

2010 Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir – 75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir

This limited release Vintage Sparkling is a medium bodied style with some yeasty complexity and creamy texture. Aging on lees for 5 years has contributed to a fine persistent bead.

2016 Sparkling Pinot Noir Laura. A lovely pale pink sparkling wine made predominately from Pinot Noir. Refreshingly dry, elegant and crisp with strawberry and cherry flavours and a long fine finish.

I made this my lunch stop and paired it with a glass of 2016 Sparkling Pinot Noir Laura.  The restaurant Sophie’s is the creation of chef Sophie Bermudes, who trained in Bordeaux and has spent the majority of her career working throughout the south-west of France.  She has a French approach to Tasmanian produce. Guests can choose from a blackboard seasonal menu and take-away picnic options are also available.

Melshell Oyster Shack

This is not a Cellar Door. It is an oyster farm gate shop … and yes, it is a shack (well caravan), located about 20 minutes off the Tasman Highway near Swansea at a place called Dolphin Sands. You could grab a bottle of chilled bubbly from one of your Cellar Door visits and include a stop here for freshly shucked oysters straight off the farm. Yum!

http://www.melshelloysters.com.au

Hobart and Surrounds

Bangor Vineyard Shed

A small family vineyard with four hectares of vines (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay), which are hand-tended.

At a latitude of 42 degrees 53’ south, Bangor’s vineyard is one of the most southerly in Tasmania, and the world, making it a true cool climate site. There is a beautiful view over Dunalley and Blackman Bay which you can view from the verandah or from one of the picnic tables on the lawn.  There is a cubby and sandpit for kids to play in. There is only one sparkling produced, but it was lovely, and matched with local oysters taking in the view it was a divine experience.

Bangor Vintage Sparkling (2012)

Bangor’s 2012 vintage sparkling is a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, made in the méthode traditionelle. A deliciously crisp sparkling displaying peach pear, white cherry and strawberry fruit flavours, balanced with creamy nougat and almond notes.

https://www.bangorshed.com.au/

Frogmore Creek

Located 20 minutes from Hobart in the Coal River Valley, the Frogmore Creek Cellar Door is housed in a rustic homestead that looks out over rolling hills and the vineyard.

On the mezzanine floor you can take a walk around the display of art works depicting the history of winemaking in Tasmania.

There are a few sparklings on tasting from the 42 Degree South and the Frogmore Creek range. I tasted:

NV 42 degrees South Sparkling – 82% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir. Aromas of toasty brioche and delicate citrus subtly emerge from the fine beads. Full and crisp flavours of apples with lengthy creamy structure.  Fine and Subtle.

NV 42 degrees South Sparkling Rose – 90% Pinot Noir, 7 % Pinot Meunier, 3% Chardonnay.  This wine has a deep salmon colour with a nose of light strawberry flavours and fresh fruit. On the palate you should taste fresh red berry fruit with a creamy texture.

2016 Frogmore Creek Sparkling Cuvée – 64% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Meunier. Light beads, subtle, fresh and delicate. A beautiful wine.

The Cellar Door includes a restaurant featuring seasonal local produce from sea, land and garden, with a deck with views out over the vineyard and a big lawn area with some lawn games and space for kids to roam. I dined here and had a beautiful food match of Tempura Oysters with the Sparkling Rose.

You can now also visit the The Lounge by Frogmore Creek (Bar and Restaurant) located in the Macq01 building in Hobart, which is elevated over Kings Wharf. It is a lovely way to spend an afternoon enjoying views of the marina, whilst sipping a glass of their lovely bubbly.


Stefano Lubiana

Stefano (Steve) Lubiana is a fifth generation wine maker who has carved out a niche in the Tasmanian wine industry. Steve identified the uniqueness that Tasmanian grape growing had to offer and tasted the potential for greatness. The family owned vineyard is around a 30 minute drive from Hobart and wraps itself around the picturesque foothills of the Derwent River estuary. Established in 1990 the majority of the estate is dedicated to biodynamically grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I love Stefano Lubiana wines and order them whenever I see them on a menu.

At the Cellar Door there is an Osteria, which can be described as a small ‘farmhouse’ style eatery in Italy.

The menu here is fresh, seasonal and based around what comes out of their biodynamic vegetable garden. They harvest honey from their own bees and pickle and preserve their own produce. Free-range meats are sourced from local farmers and wild caught seafood from the pristine waters of Tasmania.

We enjoyed a platter on the terrace with a glass of the NV Brut Reserve, before relaxing in the bean bags in the sun, taking in the view.  It was a delightful afternoon!  I tasted:

Stefano Lubiana NV Brut Reserve – multi-vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that incorporates aged reserves of wine specially prepared for the production the house style of sparkling. The natural viticulture and low yields along with the reserve wine creates a sparkling wine that tastes so different – fruit-pure, intense, rich, creamy and complex. A Gold Winner at the Decanter International Awards. It is a great all-rounder sparkling wine.

Stefano Lubiana Grande Vintage 2008 – A blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) with 7 years on lees before being disgorged in May 2016. A delightful classic ‘Tassie Sparkling’ with plenty of natural acidity.

https://slw.com.au/

Moorilla at Mona

On my last trip I didn’t get to visit this Cellar Door as Mona was booked out for a Dark Mofo event.  I visited the winery about 20 years ago, which was very basic compared to today!  Now situated in the amazing Mona art gallery, (which I did go to the opening of), I agree with their website “Come and quaff Moorilla Wine and art. A match made in the proverbial. And what better way to experience it than a top-notch tour or two as part of Moorilla Experiences.”

The winery was founded in 1962 and focuses on a small, very high-quality output. From estate-grown fruit, the ultra-premium wines are made using small-batch winemaking techniques in a gravity-assisted winery. They do make some lovely sparklings. You could easily spend a half or even full day taking in all there is to see and experience, and they also offer amazing accommodation so you could stay overnight. From Hobart, you can take the Mona ferry, which is around 25 minutes, or around 20 minutes by car.

https://moorilla.com.au/

A big thank you to Clover Hill, Jansz and Bay of Fires who provided giveaways for our subscribers as part of our feature on Tassie Sparkling Wine.

Like to join me for our Tassie Sparkling Cellar Door tour? Visit our Events and Tours page for more information


Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

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Margaret River Sparkling Cellar Doors

The Margaret River region is situated around three and a half hours South of Perth.  It is more than a day trip, at least three days would allow you time to discover some of the Sparkling Cellar Doors.

This is was not my first visit to Margaret River, but it was the first time I have visited to explore only the bubbles from the region. I love that the area has so much to offer – beaches, towering Karri tree forests, vineyards and rural views, local produce, gourmet food and, of course, the wine. On this ‘research’ trip during February 2018, I enjoyed pleasant mid-twenty degree temperatures, perfect for touring, and the warm days benefited from gentle sea breezes.

Sparkling wine is in its infancy in WA, but there are some nice bubbles developing.

You can explore the region by self driving, but then there is always the issue of limiting the tastings for the designated driver. This is why I love a winery tour, when someone who knows the area takes you to the best places and will, of course, also be the designated driver. In Margaret River, I was pleased to find a bubbles specific tour Margaret River Bubbles Tour.  With a background as a tradie and ex-rugby player, Mark, the owner, is an unlikely bubbles tour guide. He told me that the idea for the tour company came when he, his wife and a group of their friends visited the area on holidays, only to discover there was no tour catering for bubbles drinkers. An idea was sparked, and a few years later Mark and his wife moved to the area and established Margaret River Bubbles Tour. Prior to my visit, Mark gladly shared information about the wineries that produced bubbles in the area to help me with my planning, and I enjoyed a day out on tour with him experiencing the area. Mark only visits the smaller producers, so you can easily enjoy a few days exploring on your own and fit the day tour into your itinerary to cover some of the boutique wineries. Tours can also be customised to include visits to cheese, chocolates and olive oil, and they have just commenced a new tour featuring whale watching in season.

If you have a look at the list of Margaret River wineries, you’ll find over 95 Cellar Doors. Mark told us that even though there are around 130 vineyards in the region, they represent only 1% of the Australian wine market, but around 26% of Australia’s premium wine market. Only around 40 of these vineyards produce a sparkling wine.

The geology of the region is the oldest in Australia, and the gravel soils, microclimate, aspect and consistent maritime influence create ideal conditions for the region’s grape varieties.

I discovered that only a few wineries had their own sparkling wine facilities, and many of them have their sparkling wine produced locally by John Frazer – Frazer Woods Wines. As I travelled around, many people told me that I needed to meet John. He is an elusive character, but I was told that I could find him at his ‘sparkling shed’. Although it is not open to visitors, I was given directions to follow an old dirt road until I saw a sign that said ‘God’s Farm’, take that driveway and just turn up to see if he is there. I did find ‘God’s Farm’, but John wasn’t there. Instead, his son kindly showed me around and had a quick chat, but he suggested that I make contact with his dad. John kindly contacted me via our website afterwards to provide some more detail for me.

When planning your visit, I suggest that you check the Cellar Door websites for opening days and times, as they can change depending on the season.

Here is my list of Sparkling Cellar Doors:

Vasse Felix

‘Site of first vineyard and winery in Margaret River established in 1967’ is featured on a large sign as you enter the driveway.

Lovely options for food and wine tasting. Wine lounge for charcuterie, cheese and olives, and restaurant upstairs for an interesting menu of dishes featuring local produce. The estate has an Art Gallery and Sculpture park, and all spaces look out over the vineyard, which is quite close to the Indian Ocean. I couldn’t see the ocean, but I could smell the salty sea air as the breeze washed over the vineyard.

They have one sparkling, which is the Vasse Felix Blanc de Blancs. I tasted the 2016 Vintage that had recently been released after 18 months on lees, green apple and hints of French oak. The staff explained that the Chardonnay is from a parcel of vineyard in Karridale, which is in the Southern part of the region, and has a cooler climate.

The place was busy, but relaxed. You may want to book in advance for the restaurant. Behind the scenes tours are also available for booking on the website.

https://www.vassefelix.com.au/

Swings and Roundabouts

Rustic relaxed atmosphere, open fires, cosy corners and a huge lawn with vineyard views. It is family friendly with lawn games, ping pong table, and tyre swings. Simple menu with local ingredients, woodfired pizza, with a few other options including charcuterie, olives, and arancini.

They produce two different labels:

Backyard Stories is the premium label sparkling produced in small batches – NV Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, which has been aged for two years on lees. Brioche, toast, nutty, fine creamy palate, crisp notes.

The Swings and Roundabouts range is a larger production Sparkling NV, which is 100% Chenin Blanc, mid-palate fruit of guava, passionfruit, apples, high acidity.

My favourite of the two was the Backyard Stories.

https://www.swings.com.au

Brookwood Estate

This family-owned vineyard, began as a bare paddock, until the family (although not originally from a wine background) planted out vines. The family’s experience and expertise has evolved a lot since then. I met Bronlee, the winemaker. She is the daughter of the owners and grew up here, and she loved it so much she studied to turn winemaking into her qualification and career. Funny enough, her nickname is ‘Bubbles’, so of course there needed to be a sparkling wine, and it is called just that – Bubbles. Brookwood’s bubbles is a blend of Semillion, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. Quite fruity and a bit sweet, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The bubbles are added and not bottle fermented. For some on our tour, this was their favourite. It has a Zork closure – an imitation cork, one that can be used to reseal the bottle. We enjoyed lunch here as part of our tour – a lovely dining experience on the verandah looking out over the vines.

https://brookwood.com.au/

Howard Park

There were lots of bubbles on tasting here. Sparkling is a speciality of this family-owned winery, and they are one of a few to have their own bottling line for sparkling wine. The Howard Park Jeté Brut Blanc NV had recently won prestigious ‘Best Australian Sparkling Wine’ trophy at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships in London. This accolade has created such a demand for the label that it meant there was none available for tasting on my visit. Their bubbly expertise, however, was evident in the other sparklings on tasting.

Madfish Prosecco – released in October 2017, this is their first Prosecco. The grapes are from the King Valley in Victoria. Only available at Cellar Door.

Madfish Vera – Traditional method – 18 months on lees. 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. Crisp, citrus fruit and apricot, very dry finish.

Jeté NV Brut – as mentioned above, in addition this Jeté range has also won two golds, and a silver award. Almost sold out on my visit, so it wasn’t available for tasting.

“There is some tough competition in the Australian Sparkling space, so it really is an honour to have won this award, as a Western Australian winery, not famed for their sparkling, it is a fantastic achievement.” — Chief Wine Maker, Janice McDonald.

Howard Park Jete Rose – 100% Pinot Noir, 18 months on lees. Mid-palate berry fruit provide richness and freshness, very dry finish.

Grand Jete 2013 – 55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir. The blend varies depending on the best grapes for that year. It has been a Blanc de Blancs before. The first vintage was in 2009, and there are plans to release a vintage each year, depending on the harvest. This was fresh and fruity, with complexity through mid to full palate.

There were a couple more available for purchase but not tasting:

Pascal, Marchand and Burch. Limited vintage created in collaboration with the French champagne house. The Australian collection is made here under direction of Pascal. For the French collection, the fruit is sourced locally by Pascal to create the Marchand and Burch range.

Franck Bonville Champagne is also imported and sold here. I queried why, as there was not a winemaking collaboration – “because it is awesome”, that’s what they told me at the Cellar Door! It wasn’t available for tasting, so for now, I will take their word.

There is no restaurant here, but Howard Park hosts festivals where catering is brought in. December is ‘Bubbles and Blooms’, January ‘Oysters and Revelry’, February for Chinese New Year, Asian street food, and they also create a pop-up restaurant on some weekends. I suggest that you check their website for events before visiting.

I asked about availability to purchase their wines on the East Coast, and they told me that there is limited distribution. If you are keen to try any of the range, either visit the Cellar Door or order online.

https://www.howardparkwines.com.au/

Leeuwin Estate

Leeuwin has a great heritage in the region, being one of the first vineyards established in 1969. This is the site of the great Leeuwin Estate concerts. As you approach the entrance of the Cellar Door, you can see posters from the legacy of this great event, as well as the stage set overlooking the lawn, providing an inkling of the excitement of being at a concert here. Artwork is also a feature of this estate through their Art Series labels, which features paintings commissioned from leading contemporary Australian Artists. You can visit the art gallery onsite, which shows these wonderful works. It is worth spending time to explore. I didn’t dine here, but the menu at the restaurant looked nice and afforded views over the lawn to the concert stage.

I tasted the 2014 Brut Pinot Noir Chardonnay, with 60% Pinot Noir. It has spent some time in French Oak before bottle fermented – three years on lees. Oyster shell, lemon, lime and apple on the palate, bright and racy mouth feel with a dry finish.  Great aperitif style.

https://leeuwinestate.com.au

Voyager Estate

Wow, what a sense of arrival! The estate is the vision of the founder Michael Wright. Built in the style of Cape Dutch architecture with stunning gardens, with spectacular Wine Room and Restaurant. The biggest Australian flag in the Southern Hemisphere flies from the flag pole to greet you as you enter.

“Inviting everyone to come and enjoy a glass with us in Margaret River. The perfect combination of food, wine and the warmth of family and friends is what a visit to Voyager Estate is about … every feature of the Estate is designed to give you an inspirational experience.” The estate is still family-owned, with Michael’s two daughters taking over the reins since his passing in 2012 – continuing the direction of style as their father did.

I tasted the 2015 Blanc de Blancs, which had a lovely nose, small bead and creamy texture with citrus featured. It is limited release and small batch. I thought it was delightful, but was disappointed to hear that the 2015 will be the last vintage as they will now only produce the Project Sparkling Chenin Blanc, which I also tasted, dry finish with a fruity mid palate. I am not totally converted to the Chenin Blanc. I did prefer the Chardonnay.

Allow some time for a visit here. The estate is very big, and I spent time just sitting and looking out over the rose garden and kitchen garden that look out over the lawns to the vineyard. They have guided tours, a private tasting room, daily tour of the estate, which includes a walk through the vineyard, learn about tending the vines, show through the winery and barrel room as well as the biggest underground cellar in Australia. Tastings are available at the Cellar Door, and there are also sommelier-created wine flights, cheese and charcuturie platters, and a restaurant serving a degustation menu as well as High Teas on the weekend. Most of these need to be pre-booked which you can do online.

www.voyagerestate.com.au

Watershed

Great looking venue, but I didn’t stay to taste. As is the case with some Cellar Doors, they didn’t have their sparkling available for tasting. I assume that you can order it by the glass in the onsite café or restaurant. They do have one sparkling, which I had tasted previously at my hotel. It is the Blanc de Blancs 2013 – 100% Chardonnay grown on their estate vineyard. Produced as an aperitif style of sparkling using the ‘Méthode Traditionnelle’.

www.watershedwines.com.au

Xanadu

Yes, I did have Olivia’s tune ringing in my ears as I drove the along the driveway through the vineyards into Xanadu. I had visited here before, many years ago, but the Cellar Door was in a shed at the time. The sense of arrival now was something a bit more spectacular, with architect-designed visitor facilities of the Cellar Door and open plan restaurant looking out onto a ‘chill out’ courtyard, where people were lazing in the sun, sitting on bean bags and sipping wine. I did think that perhaps I had arrived in Xanadu.

The staff were great, and everyone was so friendly and helpful. They told me the story of how the vineyard was given its name. When the eccentric Irishman Dr John Lagan, who loved poems and literature, settled here with his wife Eithne, to establish one of the region’s earliest vineyards (1977). Dr Lagan said that he had found the land of paradise, an idyllic setting, where there are now 65 hectares of vines, and he called it Xanadu. The winery has since experienced some transition in ownership. It was publicly listed, but is now privately owned by the Rathbone family. Successful winemakers and owners of other great Cellar Doors (think Yering Station, Yarrabank and Mount Langi Ghiran), the Rathbone family looked to expand into Margaret River. The potential of Xanadu was recognised by them as having the combination of great viticulture, great wine making facilities and great tourism facilities.

At the Cellar Door, I tasted the Xanadu 2014 ‘Methode Traditionelle’ Brut, which was delightful. It is 100% Chardonnay with a very low dosage, it is almost what is called a Brut Nature. It has spent some time in oak barrel, and then three years on lees. All made onsite, hand-picked, small batch. The palate had some citrus and brioche. I made this my lunch stop and this was a perfect food match with the Soft Crab Corn Fritters. The only disappointment is that due to the small production, it has since run out of stock and no longer available to taste at the Cellar Door. The next bubbly release will be the 2016 vintage, due for release in 2019.

Don’t despair, bubbles are still served in the restaurant. The advantage of being part of the Rathbone group, is that there is always wine of good pedigree on hand! Another delightful bubbles, the 2012 Yarrabank Cuvee Brut ‘Methode Traditionnelle’, which is made through a joint venture between Champagne Devaux and the Rathbone’s Yering Station in the Yarra Valley, is currently being served until the next vintage of Xanadu is available.

https://www.xanaduwines.com/

Clairault Streicker BdB

The scenic driveway off Caves Road winds through farmland and native forest, bringing you to the lovely Cellar Door and café with an outlook over the vineyard. One sparkling on tasting here.

2014 Streicker Blanc de Blancs – Sonja the Cellar Door manager told me that it was “frightfully easy to drink”, and she was right. It is made in the traditional method with two years on lees. Lemon zest, granny smith apple and a bit of brioche and toasted nuts.

https://www.clairaultstreickerwines.com.au/

Fermoy Estate

Lovely building, this is a smaller Cellar Door, with no café onsite. It is family-owned, and the staff told me that one of the loveliest ways to experience the wines here is to enjoy a picnic under the leafy trees on the front lawn, or take a seat in the Cellar Door with a glass of bubbles and enjoy the atmosphere.

They only make vintage bubbles, and I tasted the Fermoy 2013 Pinot Noir Chardonnay. Pinot Noir led at 60%. Small parcel, hand-pruned, hand-picked from Pemberton Region, which is bottle fermented in the traditional method and aged on lees for four years. It was a lovely bubbly, characters of creamy lemon, brioche and toasted nuts with a delicate and persistent bead.

https://www.fermoy.com.au/

Sandalford Wines

Their Margaret River Cellar Door is much smaller than the one in the Swan Valley, and this one sits in the middle of a beautiful country garden surrounded by grape vines. There are picnic tables under a covered pergola and free BBQ facilities. There are also a variety of local artwork, wine accessories and Sandalford merchandise available for purchase.

I tasted the Sandalfords NV Sparkling, which is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Only available at Cellar Door, crisp, lemon, zesty with a creaminess from time on lees.

https://www.sandalford.com/cellar-door/cellar-door-margaret-river

Cape Grace Wines

This is a small Cellar Door, a little off the beaten track. We were very lucky to receive a bit of a behind the scenes tour here. Harvest was underway for some varieties, and we watched some whole batch Zinfandel being crushed. The winemaker told us that it was an experiment to try to make sparkling Zinfandel. Not sure how that is progressing, but we did taste the 2017 Cremant de Grace – Sparkling Chenin Blanc, which had hints of lemon meringue, a touch of citrus peel, and finishes with a beautiful lemon/lime acidity.

https://www.capegracewines.com.au/

Harmans Estate

Harmans Estate is a family-run, premier small-batch winery. They explained to me that they are one of a few wineries in the region who processes, produces, bottles and labels all onsite, ensuring the integrity and heart and soul of Harmans is in every bottle.

One of the specialities is wine distilled into pure, smooth high-proof spirit (Pisco). I didn’t try it, but I did taste the 2013 Sparkling Pink Pinot Noir – crafted from 100% Pinot Noir, 36 months on lees, strawberries, raspberries, with layers of marmalade and spicy fruits.

https://www.harmans.com.au/

Old Kent River

This is a small Cellar Door, of rammed earth structure with a rural outlook. There is no restaurant onsite, so it is only a tasting stop, but there are some picnic tables that you could make use of and a lawn that kids could run and play on if you had the family in tow. A small selection of local cheese and produce is available to purchase, and ‘make your own’ platters to enjoy with a glass of wine, or you are welcome to bring your own picnic.

Their sparkling is called Diamondtina (the diamond of the range). The staff were very friendly and talked me through the range. I tasted the 2006, which is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has spent eight years on lees (which is a long time for an Aussie sparkling). It is their museum release with limited stock. The staff explained that the Cellar Door used to be much further south in Denmark, and has recently moved to Margaret River. The Pinot Noir is single vineyard from the owners’ family property in Frankland River, which is cooler climate and much better for Pinot Noir. Also available was the Diamondtina 2008, which is the same blend and has spent six years on lees, with hints of French Oak. There is also the Diamondtina NV sparkling Rose, which is the same blend, but has spent three hours on skins to give the pink colour. Fruity with a dry finish. Not too complex, an easy drinking wine.

http://www.oldkentriverwines.com.au/

Firetail Sparkling

This is a very small Cellar Door. The space has an emphasis on wood, built with local Jarrah teamed with French Oak from barrels used to age their wines. The Cellar Door, Jessica the owner told me, is “like our wines, hand-crafted, stylish and pretty special.”

Jessica was very happy that the new Firetail Sparkling had just arrived. It is a Blanc de Blancs made from 100 % chardonnay, which is from a friend’s vineyard. A portion of the base wine was fermented in French Oak barrels before secondary fermentation in the bottle in the traditional method. The wine was aged for 30 months on lees before disgorging in February 2018.

www.firetail.com.au

The Berry Farm

At the Berry Farm, I discovered wine made from a different kind of fruit – berries. The helpful Cellar Door staff arranged for Mike the winemaker to come and have a chat with me, and guide me through the tastings on offer. I discovered that fruit wine can be made from virtually any plant matter that can be fermented. Most fruits and berries have the potential to produce wine. There are a number of methods of extracting flavour and juice from the fruits or plants being used, pressing the juice, stewing and fermenting the pulp of the fruits are common, however few foods other than grapes have the balanced quantities of sugar, acid, tannin, nutritive salts for yeast feeding and water to naturally produce a stable, drinkable wine, so these products require the addition or sugar or honey to make them palatable and to increase the alcoholic content (sugar is converted to alcohol in the fermentation). I tasted Strawberry, Passionfruit, and ‘Tickled Pink’, which was a blend of lemon and elderberry. I do think that it is an acquired taste. I don’t think I was converted, as they are very rich and mostly sweet. I can see though that there would be a market. “I don’t think there is a fruit I haven’t tried fermenting”, said Mike. He mentioned that the best food matches would be spicy food (yes, a sweeter wine works better with spice), dessert or a bubbly breakfast. I moved onto a coffee from the café before setting off. It was a nice impromptu stop for me. It is a good family-friendly place, with a kids adventure playground, café, produce shop and (fruity) Cellar Door.

https://www.theberryfarm.com.au/

Flametrees

Small family-owned Cellar Door, with no vineyard, but yes, flametrees that greet you at the entrance, as well as featured on the label. I may have had the Cold Chisel tune ringing in my ears whilst tasting. Lovely light flows through large windows into the Cellar Door, with views out to the open lawn to relax at a picnic table for a tasting, and space for kids to play. Food selection is platters, with local cheese and produce.

I tried the Blanc de Blancs, which has been aged for three years and the NV, which is 30% Pinot Noir, 70% Chardonnay. The winemaker here was previously the winemaker at Voyager Estate.

https://www.flametreewines.com/

Mongrel Creek

Rustic is not quite the word, but the Cellar Door reminded me a little of the Ettamogah pub. With a name like Mongrel Creek, what does one expect?

The owner, Larry has a no BS approach, and told me that as a small family-owned winery, their primary focus is on producing quality wine at an affordable price.

The bubbles on offer were the 2012 Le Mongrel Sparkling, which is 100% Chenin Blanc, which had been aged for five years, and Le Mongrel Sparkling Rouge – aged for two years, which is 100% Cab Sav. These are usually released in small batches of 1,096 at a time.

https://www.mongrelcreek.com.au

House of Cards

Another small family-run Cellar Door. Established in 2011 by a young couple Travis and Elizabeth Wray. Travis is the winemaker and Elizabeth takes care of the marketing. Their young family also feature on their website. The attention to detail here is remarkable, hand-made neck tags and hand-made labels on the bottles. We visited as part of bubbles tour, and they had kindly arranged for a Queen Bee Magnum to be opened for our visit.

We tasted the 2015 Queen Bee Vintage Magnum, which has spent two and a half years on lees, single vineyard Blanc de Blancs, citrus and creamy. As this is a magnum, this one could be cellared for longer to bring out more complexity in the wine. We also tasted the 2015 Blanc de Blancs Queen of Diamonds, three years on lees, green apples, pears and buttered toast dominate the aromatics.

The Cellar Door also features a great range of art and jewellery by local and Australian artists. For food, the nearby Chow’s Table provides traditional Chinese/Malay cuisine with a modern twist, overlooking the vineyard, and Gabriel’s Chocolates is also in this corner of Caves Road, so you might allow some time to explore here.

https://www.houseofcardswine.com.au/

Windows Estate

This is a small family-owned and operated business, just over the road from House of Cards. Walk-ins are fine, but they do ask that advance bookings are made for groups of six or more people. They have won the Gourmet Traveller Small Cellar Door award for the past three years.

This is not just single vineyard production, but it is a single person vineyard. Chris, the owner, has worked the vineyard completely on his own from day one, which he says is the only way to meet the high standards he sets for himself. He spends the vast majority of his time in the vineyard. He knows it like the back of his own hand, hand-pruning every single one of the vines himself, year after year.

I tasted the 2016 Mousseux – 100% Chenin Blanc made in the traditional method.

The residual sugar after dosage is minimal, so it is predominantly fresh green apple aromas, zesty citrus notes. This is an elegant sparkling wine, delicate fine bead and smooth creamy texture with a refreshing clean finish. With my preference for a Champagne style, I hadn’t been convinced with the trend in Margaret River for a sparkling Chenin Blanc, however this one did convince me. Definitely worth a tasting.

http://www.windowsestate.com/

Credaro

Family-owned, four generations of the Credaro family, a pioneering family to the region, first settling in Margaret River in 1922 after migrating from Northern Italy. Initially involved in farming and the timber industry, small plots of vines were planted to provide the family with table wine.

2013 Vintage Sparkling – 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir. All grapes sourced from the family vineyards in Margaret River, within a 50km radius. Made in the Traditional Method, this sparkling wine has delicate aromas of spiced apple and grilled nuts with subtle yeast characters. The palate is finely structured with layers of citrus, brioche and white peach.

This Cellar Door doesn’t have food, but they can do catered events. They did have a small selection of boutique clothing and homewares available for sale, so you can tie in shopping with your bubbles tasting. The terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy some bubbles with lovely rural views.

https://credarowines.com.au/

Windance

Family, Heritage and a passion for great wine – is the tagline here. I tasted the 2016 Glen Valley Blanc de Blancs – apple, sherbert, citrus – traditional method, 15 months on lees. Fresh, vibrant with crisp finish.

The Chardonnay is sourced from Wilyabrup, which means ‘place of water’.

This family-owned vineyard has a new Cellar Door. They explained that they are in generational transition from Father to daughter Billie, and the son-in-law Michale (with French winemaking experience), is the winemaker. The focus is on producing quality wines, whilst incorporating sustainable land management and environmentally-friendly viticultural practices.

https://www.windance.com.au/

I would like to acknowledge Mark from Margaret River Bubbles Tour and Margaret River Tourism for providing assistance with this trip.  Margaret River Tourism will now feature this blog as their information on Margaret River Sparkling Cellar Doors.

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Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

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