The Bubbles Review

for people who love champagne and all things sparkling!

Adelaide Hills Sparkling Cellar Doors

Located in the Mount Lofty Ranges east of Adelaide, the ‘hills’ are known for their cool climate grape varieties and wines. The highest vineyards are sited between 600-650 metres altitude in areas such as Crafers, Summertown, Piccadilly and Carey Gully. With over 90 wine labels, and 50 cellar doors, they are acknowledged internationally for their distinctive premium wines, viticulture and stunning scenery. 

I had been to the Adelaide Hills before, but it was many years ago. I knew there were some lovely sparklings being produced there, but I hadn’t realised the extent. Diverse in terms of climate, soil and topography, I hadn’t expected to find a sparkling wine paradise. 

An easy day trip from Adelaide, you can be tasting at a Cellar Door in around half an hour. There are two registered sub-regions, Lenswood and Piccadilly Valley, and a lot of sparkling producers are grouped together within easy travelling distance between each other. 

To really relax and have a nice day out, it is much better to book a driver for the day. I spent a few days in the region and travelled with two different companies. Touring Adelaide South Australia, have luxury eight-seat vehicles, and the owner Darryl and his team are Adelaide Hills locals and provide small charters, tours and transfers. This option worked well for me travelling on my own for a day, and I also had a few friends join me for one day of touring, and I booked my transfer to the airport direct from the Adelaide Hills for my flight home with them. Darryl’s motto is “less fuss, with us”, and it was. 

Taste South Australia specialise in wine tours and is owned and run by Mary Anne Kennedy. I’ve known Mary Anne for years through my different roles in the tourism industry, and she has built a strong reputation curating specialist wine tours for international visitors. It was lovely catching up as we toured in her 8-seat Mercedes van, listening to her insights of the local area.

It is great being able to tap into this local knowledge from tour operators, as well as the input of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region association through their team and their website, which has some great search and planning tools, as does the Visit Adelaide Hills website  

I mentioned an easy day trip, but you could easily spend several days here exploring the Sparkling Wines alone.  We were very blessed to have many of these on tasting at The Bubbles Festival Adelaide, and I’ve enjoyed creating some special Bubbly Weekend tour itineraries of the Adelaide Hills for our subscribers, which we hope to be able to offer next year.

I stayed for a few nights in Hahndorf (an ideal spot to be based for local touring), and there are also a few Cellar Doors located in town.

I discovered that there is also amazing sparkling wine heritage in the ‘hills’. I love hearing the stories of the people and meeting these mainly family-owned wineries and winemakers is always one of the highlights of visiting Cellar Doors. Everyone is so passionate about the area, their wines and so friendly that I feel like I made many new friends on my visit.

While this is not a fully inclusive list of the Sparkling Cellar Doors in the region, it highlights some of the region’s top sparklings to help you plan a trip. I’ve included links to each of the Cellar Doors, and I suggest that you check opening times and make bookings in advance. During the COVID pandemic, opening times may change and availability might be limited if there are restrictions.

Penfolds Magill Estate

Magill Estate is a short drive from the Adelaide CBD, with views over the vines, the city, and extending out to the sea. There are two restaurants, with Magill Estate Kitchen offering casual dining, and the Magill Estate Restaurant offering a fine dining experience. You may wonder why I was visiting the ‘home of Grange’ on a sparkling Cellar Doors tour, but this was to experience an Aussie Champagne!

I loved taking the tour of the Cellar Door, with so much Australian wine making history. It all began with Christopher Rawson Penfold, a doctor with an eye for medicinal winemaking, who set about inventing tonics, brandies and fortified wines made from grapes and Australian sunshine. Yes, I am sure many of us can attest to drinking wine for medicinal purposes! Arriving from England with his wife Mary, they brought with them vine cuttings they had carried on their voyage. In 1844, the fledging vineyard was officially established as the Penfolds wine company at Magill Estate.

As with many of the great women of Champagne, once again it seems the business growth was under the helm of Mary Penfold. Although success was attributed to Dr Penfold, Mary, it seems, is the unsung chief of Penfolds with many of the experimentations, growth and winemaking philosophies originating from her direction. As the company grew, so too did Dr Penfold’s medical reputation, leaving much of the running of the winery to Mary Penfold, and on Christopher’s death in 1870, Mary assumed total responsibility for the winery.

Everything she knew about wine, she taught herself – insisting on having the grapes blended to her own taste. A woman standing confidently at the helm of a thriving business in the 1800s was unheard of. She’d command from a white mare, watching over the vineyard with her treasured spyglass close at hand.

When Mary retired, she ceded management to her daughter, Georgina. At the time, Penfolds was producing one third of all South Australia’s wine. By 1907, Penfolds had become South Australia’s largest winery.

The next big moment in the Penfolds history was in 1948 with the arrival of Max Schubert as the company’s first Chief Winemaker. Known for creating Penfolds Grange in the 1950s (with techniques and varieties he learnt in France), I was surprised to discover the first releases were not popular. The Australian tastes of the time were more suited to a sweeter wine than a dry red table wine. Max was ordered to cease production, but continued to do so in secret, which turned into a blessing – with bottles of Grange now commanding huge prices at auction.

But I wasn’t there for the Grange, I was there for the champagne, and I was very fortunate to have Zöe Warrington, the Penfolds Australian Ambassador, escort me on a private tour. The champagnes are not usually on tasting at the Cellar Door but are available by the glass in the restaurants.

Of course, there are no longer any Australian produced sparkling wines that can be labelled champagne. This co-branded label is a collaboration with family-owned Champagne House Thiénot, which has created the first Penfolds limited release champagne. Thiénot is a respected player in the world of Champagne, but this was also hands-on involvement from Penfolds.  The wines represent the joint efforts of Thiénot, Chef de Cave, Nicolas Uriel who, together with Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker, shared agreed style and quality ambitions, and Peter was hands on throughout the blending and tirage stage to create these champagnes – made from grapes sourced from prestigious and highly regarded Grand Cru vineyards in Champagne from the spectacular 2012 vintage.

The launch was held to symbolically celebrate the Penfold 175th anniversary, and a wonderful French and Australian wine alliance that produces these limited release champagnes.

Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvèe 2012

An inviting pale straw hue, not quite yet revealing or reflecting expectant tints of yellow/gold.

Nose: Rich and complex. Freshly cut hay, honeysuckle, scents of crème brulee and toffee apple. Classic champagne chalk.

Linear and defined. All engulfed by an ethereal, softened and almost fairy floss caress.

Palate: Pecan, Brazil nut, apple and spice. Lovely fruit fullness on the mid-palate finished with seductive tension from the acidity.  Complete and expressive.

Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2012

The ideal was to create an extraordinary 2012 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru. A champagne worthy of celebrating Penfolds past, present and future.

Lovely pale yellow/straw colour it is 100% Chardonnay from Avize.

Nose: A harmonious ascent of citrus (primarily lemon zest) intermingled with wafts of subtle florals (white lily). From the patisserie – just-baked madeleine, a hint of nuttiness (fresh almond) and scents of light honey. Hints of barley sugar/confectionary mingle with delicate white and yellow stone fruits

Palate: Linear and defined. All engulfed by an ethereal, softened and almost fairy floss caress. Notes of lemon sorbet and vanilla pannacotta, with a whisked light cream. A measured generosity of flavour with a suggestion of varietal savouriness and regional chalk. The complete Blanc de Blancs package.

Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru 2012

100% Pinot Noir from the 2012 vintage all Grand Cru parcels from Aÿ.

The colour is pale yellow/straw. The nose has aromas of nuttiness – more pistachio than almond.

Wafts of dried fruits aromatically verge towards that of a freshly assembled potpourri of dried flowers. Puzzlingly marmalade and cumquat high notes bely variety.

Ripe yet delicate. Upon pouring – the faintest suggestion of coffee bean. Upon sitting – crème anglaise lightly laced with dried apricot, wild raspberry. Upon waiting – ‘softened’/desirable phenolics prevail – inducing a defined finish with grip and panache.  Refreshingly long-lasting in mouth.

See website here.

Lambrooks

There is not a Cellar Door, but you may be able to organise tasting activities for groups of friends. Lambrooks have a funky warehouse in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood at which they host some pop-up wine events, as well as being available for hire.

Lambrooks is the husband and wife team of Adam and Brooke Lampit. I met with Adam, who is the winemaker at their warehouse. He told me that they were both working in the industry and knew their way around a bottle of wine. Adam (formerly working as a winemaker at Bird in Hand), is passionate about wine, they wanted to be involved in every part of the process to create their own wine.

Adam explained that Lambrook wine is about craftsmanship, friendship, family, love, passion and bringing out the best of the Adelaide Hills. Each grape variety (mostly hand-picked) comes from a small parcel of fruit, specifically selected for optimum growing potential. Lambrooks use traditional methods like hand plunging and open fermentation, and there is no compromise. If the fruit is not up to scratch, they won’t make the wine. The results are bearing fruit with Lambrook wines now included on lists in top restaurants. There are two sparklings available:

Sparks

Hand-picked then whole-bunch cold pressed for up to 48 hours. I describe this as fun and fruity.  It is a stunning salmon pink colour that parties on the palate.  A fresh and young Charmat method sparkling pinot noir of ultra-pale salmon hue, accented with tangy strawberry and elegant red-apple fruit. Lively acidity and well-integrated dosage. For those that love a Charmat method sparkling, it is perfect – light and easy drinking, refreshing and vibrant.

Emerson

This one is named after one of their daughters (pictured). Adam told me that it took until 2017 for the vintage to be considered Emerson worthy, and as a traditional method it had only just recently been released. It is whole-bunch cold pressed then bottle fermented for 4.5 years on lees. Showcasing Adelaide Hills pinot noir with depth and presence in red apple and subtle strawberry fruit, layered with the toasty, roast-nut complexity you would expect from extended ageing on lees. A noble effort for a first release, upholding the focus of cool-climate acidity, carrying the finish long and restrained, well-matched to a low dosage.

See website here.

Deviation Road

Deviation Road produces exciting cool climate wines from mature vineyard resources, where owners, Hamish and Kate Laurie, continue a five-generation winemaking tradition. Devoted to the high-altitude sites, and with Kate’s French oenology training, the wines they produce are both traditional and contemporary.

Hamish has winemaking in his blood. His great-great-grandmother was South Australia’s first female winemaker and his vineyard is one of the oldest in the region. Together with his father, he created Hillstowe wines in 1991, which became a successful international brand. When Hillstowe was sold in 2001, the opportunity arose for Hamish to build his own winery. Joined by Kate later that year, the path forward was set. Hamish occupies several roles at Deviation Road, including overseeing the business operations, chief tractor driver (and fixer), disgorger, handy man and blending partner.

Kate was 19 when she realised that becoming a winemaker was actually a ticket to her other passion, all things French. This is how she ended up in France, studying at the Lycée Viticole d’Avize in Champagne. Nearly three years later, she returned home to her family winery Stone Bridge in WA, where she worked as Winemaker for four years before joining Hamish in 2001. Was it fate or destiny that Hamish was a vigneron in the Adelaide Hills? Judging by the results, the region has proved an ideal setting for Kate to hone her sparkling style and produce the artisanal and refined wines Deviation Road have become known for.

With a fiery passion to create premium bottle fermented and aged Australian sparkling wines together with textural, aromatic wines that can genuinely cellar, their signature style is restrained, elegant and balanced. All of their wines are hand-crafted using traditional wine making techniques and are vegan friendly.

Deviation Road’s winery and cellar door are a short drive from Stirling. The Deviation Road experience combines a spectacular garden setting surrounded by vineyard and heritage listed bushland together with a sophisticated wine and all-day grazing food menu that heroes local seasonal product.

Seasonal wine flights are available, and by appointment only they also have a Disgorging Experience that includes a hosted winery tour and disgorging, where you get to create a custom dosage of a bottle of Altair, which you can take home, followed by a Noble Cuvee wine flight featuring their four current release sparkling wines. I was fortunate to be there at a time that they were disgorging, which they do onsite. I also had the pleasure of meeting Kate, she generously took the time to sit with me to talk through the wines.

Deviation Road 2017 Loftia Vintage Brut

Chardonnay 55%, Pinot Noir 45%

The aim when blending Loftia is to create a sparkling that will gain complexity with age, as well as show the perfect balance between the line and precision from the chardonnay and the power from the pinot.

The wine is tiraged (bottled) by hand and stored for second fermentation. After a minimum of three years, the first batch is riddled and hand disgorged on site at their Longwood winery. Small batches are disgorged at a time to allow the remaining bottles to continue ageing on lees as long as possible.

Loftia is famously crisp and zesty, the perfect aperitif style sparkling wine. Aromas of lemon zest on the nose precede the creamy mousse and citrus finish. Flavours of crisp apple, fresh citrus zest, oyster shell minerality with a citrus finish on the palate. Enjoy withBBQ scallops.

Deviation Road Altair MV Brut Rose

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Kate explained that the Pinot Noir gives the Altair power and riper red fruit aromas and Chardonnay produces citrus lift and gives the wine finesse. This is a Multi Vintage (aka Non Vintage) in the assemblage (blended) method, which means that some still red wine is added to the blend to create the rose colour. The benefit of the MV wine is that reserve wines from previous years is added to enhance depth and complexity.

Sweet strawberry, cherry and spice aromas follow through to the palate, experienced as delicate mid palate fruit, with crisp finish and wonderful length.

95 Points – 2021 Halliday Wine Companion

94 Points – 2020 Tyson Stelzer’s Australian Sparkling Wine report

Top Gold (95 Points), Adelaide Hills Wine Show 2018

Sparkling Rosè of the Year, Tyson Stelzer 2017

Southcote Blanc de Noirs 2017

The Southcote is a vintage wine created to showcase the best parcel of Pinot, and it is only produced in exceptional years, from 100% Pinot Noir. I tasted the 2017, the 2018 has since been released. The fruit is chilled at harvest and immediately whole bunch pressed into stainless steel tanks. Minimal skin contact, produces this lovely Blanc de Noir (White from Black).

Fresh red apple and raspberry aromas with toasted biscuit notes adding complexity. The palate has a lovely creamy mousse finished with crisp citrus acidity, balanced by a low dosage. Quince, red apple, raspberries, rhubarb crumble and sweet spice.

Beltana Blanc de Blancs 2013

Kate explained to me that precision freshness is the Deviation Road DNA. It is certainly highlighted in the Beltana, their flagship prestige cuvee. I tasted the 2013, the 2014 is now also released and has been awarded the Halliday Wine Companion Best Sparkling Award 2022.  The Beltana is produced using 100% Chardonnay grapes selected from the cool south-facing slopes high in the Adelaide Hills. A persistent fine bead, creamy mousse, clean minerality and is delicate on the palate. The nose had lovely nut and toasty hints, flavours of green apple, baked lemon curd tart, and a lovely crisp mouth-watering finish. The Beltana is aged for minimum 5 years, as is disgorged on demand, which means that some will be even later than that. The one I tasted had been aged for 7 years. Accolades include 96 Points – Huon Hooke and 96 Points – Tyson Stelzer.

See website here.

DAOSA at Tapanappa

DAOSA stands for Dedicated Artisans of South Australia and is owned and managed by husband-and-wife team Xavier Bizot (great nephew of Lily Bollinger) and Lucy Croser (daughter of Brian Croser) Brian started Croser sparkling and was one of the first to plant vineyards in what is now known as the Adelaide Hills wine region. The Cellar Door is located at the Tapanappa Winery, where some of the original vineyards where Croser was grown are retained. DAOSA is the sparkling wine brand, they have recently added a tasting experience at Cellar Door featuring the DAOSA sparkling wine range, as well as a selection of their TERRE à TERRE still wines.

I met with Xavier at the Cellar Door, and he explained to me that they grow all their fruit from their vineyards in the Piccadilly Valley. Obviously passionate about the area as a sparkling region, he explained to me that this location is the highest, coolest, wettest part of the Adelaide Hills, which makes it the perfect climate for quality sparkling wine production. Although we know the term ‘terroir’ as a feature of the soil, it also includes climate and growing conditions. Xavier mentioned there are around five different soils contributing to the impact of the terroir on the fruit. These ancient soils include clay, sandstone and shale, reflecting 1.5 billion years of evolution in the wine.

Advocates of the Australian Sparkling Wine industry, DAOSA have created the labelling term ‘Method Classic’ – which they have trademarked to describe the traditional sparkling wine process (‘traditional method’ or ‘méthode traditionelle), which can be used outside the Champagne region. Since 2010, due to trade agreements, in Australia (and most of the world) we cannot call a sparkling wine ‘Champagne’, or use the words, ‘méthode champenoise’ or ‘champagne method’ to promote the method used.  

The sparkling wine pedigree of this family-owned sparkling brand is producing some delectable sparkling wines. Champagne connoisseurs at our Bubbles Festivals have told me that it is the only Australian sparkling wine that they like! I tasted these two:

DAOSA Natural Rèserve 3rd Release

Pinot Noir 83%, Chardonnay 17%

The fruit was whole bunch pressed, retaining only the first press, producing very fresh acidity, clean juice and good primary fruit characters prior to fermentation. Fermented cool in stainless steel with malolactic fermentation, before being blended (assemblage) with some 2016 and 2017 Réserve Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, aged in old barrels without sulphur. The wine was then ‘tiraged’ in February 2019 for secondary fermentation in bottle. Aged for 18 months. Dosage 7g/L. It is rated 96 points, James Halliday. The 4th release of the natural reserve has since been released, and you can see my virtual tasting on The Bubbles Review Facebook page.

DAOSA Blanc de Blancs 2016

Chardonnay 100%

This single vineyard Blanc de Blancs is from the family Chardonnay vineyard on the higher slopes of the Piccadilly Valley. Méthode Traditionnelle (Method ClassicTM). Fruit was hand harvested and whole bunch pressed, retaining only a small amount of the first press, which presents a very bright acidity, clean juice and good primary fruit characters. The juice was cold settled in tank for one week before being run into old barrels for primary fermentation. Once primary fermentation was completed, the barrels were topped and the wine stayed in barrel, with some lees stirring for a further 10 months where it went through malolactic fermentation. The wine was then ‘tiraged’ for the secondary fermentation in bottle. Aged for more than 42 months in bottle before being disgorged. Dosage 6g/L. This wine has spent more than four years on lees in total.

DAOSA Blanc de Blancs – the 2016 is a new release. I tasted the 2015 on my visit, which is now sold out. The 2015 won a Platinum medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards (awarded to just 178 wines out of 16,500+), was the top-rated sparkling wine in Gourmet Traveller Wine and was featured in James Halliday’s ‘Best of the Best’ Sparkling Wines.  I tasted the 2016 when we had it on the list at The Bubbles Festivals around the country, and it was extremely well received. The 2017 has since been released, and you can see my virtual tasting on The Bubbles Review Facebook page.

See website here.

Greenhill Wines

Owned and operated by Paul and Penny Henschke the Cellar Door and Café occupy a carefully restored and extended 1880s settler’s cottage in Summertown. Situated on a ridge with a large deck and grassed area with a stunning panoramic view of the Piccadilly Valley and vineyards, eucalypt forested Mt Bonython and distant Mt George range.

Paul describes Greenhill as a ‘nano-scale’ producer, with very small production. He manages the vineyard, is winemaker for their wine range, and manages the Cellar Door. Penny is the sole cook for the café. Both former Academics, they tell me that they love sharing what they create at Greenhills with visitors to the Cellar Door.

Paul is a fifth generation of the Eden Valley Henschke wine family, and after a career as an internationally recognised wine research microbiologist and educationalist (Australian Wine Research Institute and The University of Adelaide), he now focuses on grape growing and winemaking. He has an amazing knowledge of the wine fermentation process and the critical role that wine yeasts and bacteria play, which he says are the real microscopic winemakers. His knowledge is being put to great practical use to emphasize the qualities of their grapes, with minimal technological intervention. They purchased the vineyard in 2009 and produced their first sparkling wine in 2011.

I love new discoveries and Greenhill Wines are producing some interesting varieties. Two of the most common grapes used in Champagne are Pinot Noir and Meunier which are red grapes. Using the gentle pressing method and only taking the first press, allows the winemaker to produce a white wine from red grapes, known as a Blanc de Noirs – white from blacks. All of the Greenhill sparklings are red grape dominant, but not sparkling reds. I love the delicacy of experiencing the Pinot flavours in a good sparkling wine.

Pinot Meunier or Meunier, is a red grape, that is usually blended with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a traditional blend. Meunier is known for its ability to balance out and bring harmony to the other two. I have tasted 100% Meuniers in Champagne, there is a growing trend amongst grower champagnes to create a 100% Pinot Meunier sparkling. It is very unusual in Australia, I have only tasted one other, so the Greenhill’s, Blanc de Noir was delightful to experience. All of their sparklings are traditional method ‘methode traditionelle’.

2017 Estate Sparkling Pinot Meunier Blanc de Noir

Fine bead and textured palate, lovely mid palate fresh fruit with a crisp finish and long length.

Greenhill’s ‘unique’ 100% Pinot Meunier from the Piccadilly Valley, Paul tells me that 2017 was a very cool 2017. This wine spent 2.5 years on lees.  

I also taste the late disgorged Pinot Noir Rosé, which has spent 6 years on lees.  This is from their first sparkling year –  the cold 2011 vintage.

2011 Estate Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé Brut – 6 Years Late Disgorged

High altitude, cool climate, Piccadilly Valley (Summertown) single vineyard, Estate grown Pinot Noir (100%). Disgorged after 6 years on yeast lees in bottle, October 2019.
Very pale pink, with fine and persistent bead. The aromas are complex, lemon, citrus, honey, green apple, strawberry and brioche. On the palate it is lively, luscious, rich creamy texture, and lingering fresh crisp dry finish.

2016 Estate Sparkling Pinot Noir Brut Rosé

High altitude, cool climate, Piccadilly Valley (Summertown), single vineyard, Estate grown Pinot Noir (95%) and Pinot Meunier (2.5%), and includes Chardonnay (5%). Third release: disgorged after 3 years maturation on yeast lees in bottle, March 2020. This sparkling Pinot Rosé was tiraged with a novel hybrid yeast bred by a colleague of Paul’s.

A delicate pink colour with fine and persistent bead. The aromas are complex strawberry with hints of raspberry, green apple, citrus and subtle brioche. The palate is lively and luscious, creamy, and lingering dry (brut), crisp fresh fruity finish.

Wine flights are available throughout the day, and Paul is often available to present those, which can be accompanied by food served from the café, which showcases local fruit and vegetables, pasta, and Penny’s bread baked daily. The menu features the Greenhill Café tasting plate, which typically features three dishes freshly prepared and designed to complement each other with ciabatta. Small plates, including cheese and salami platters, are also available.

See website here.

The Tank at the Uraidla Hotel

The Uraidla Hotel has a quirky character with retro styling. They have a microbrewery, great food and an amazing wine list. The creation of the tank tasting room for a unique wine tasting experience was done by repurposing a disused water tank at the hotel. Perfect, very cool wine storage conditions, so crochet blankets (like your nanna may have made) are thoughtfully provided to wrap around you whilst you taste. The tank holds 4,000 bottles that surround you as you taste on the circular tasting bar in the centre of the room. They showcase wines from the region, particularly Piccadilly Valley, and feature some lovely sparklings that you may not have discovered yet, as well as some great grower champagnes. I tasted these local sparklings:

2018 Piccadilly Circus Blanc de Blancs – Methode Traditionelle

A crisp, clean, cool climate Blanc de Blancs with gentle flavours of citrus and cashew. Great persistence of flavour and balance. Hand-picked, whole bunch pressed then matured in oak before second fermentation in the bottle results in a great example of Piccadilly Valley Sparkling.

Norton Summit Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2010

Produced using organic practices, natural (wild) fermentation, are hand-picked and pruned. Released after 1 year in new and seasoned oak plus 2-3 years more in bottle for aged characters.

70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. Sauvage dosage. Fermented in bottle. Biologique. 10 years on lees. Late disgorged.

Nice, lifted nose and lovely depth and length of complex flavours. Very classy and beautifully elegant wine.

I also tasted one champagne:

Champagne Larmandier Bernadier Latitude Extra-Brut

100% Chardonnay 40%Reserve wines 4g/l Dosage

This family owned, grower champagne from Vertus is known for creating wines to express specific terroir from their estate. This is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes which all come from the same “latitude”: the south of Vertus. A generous terroir and grapes picked fully ripe.  This non-vintage cuvée contains 40% of wines coming from the estate’s perpetual reserve started in 2004. Lovely mineral quality, harmonious aperitif style, fully round character, delightful on the palate.

I visited the Tank on my own and returned a few days later with my group of friends, it’s a great stop to include on a sparkling tasting day in the region.

See website here.

Honey Moon Vineyard

Honey Moon Vineyard is owned and operated by Jane Bromley and Hylton McLean. The vineyard is situated on a cool but sunny site, on the high ridges of Echunga. Hylton and Jane make the wine that they want to drink. Hylton a wine educator, and experienced sparkling maker, having spent more than 10 years as the sparkling maker at Orlando. Jane is a winner of the Vin de Champagne award. They have a great passion and credentials for creating some special sparkling wines. Their beautiful vineyard is located at their home, and the name Honey Moon comes from them noticing the full moon sitting over the vineyard and thinking it looked like a big drop of honey. Their sparklings are all hand-picked, first press, taking the cuvee only for traditional method sparklings.

I tasted their Rosé Brut, which is mainly Pinot Noir with a little bit of Chardonnay – the same reserve from the Piccadilly Valley used in the Blanc de Blancs. The colour is from the saignee method, picking up a bit of pigment on press. It is mainly the 2015 vintage having spent 52 months on lees. It had lovely mid-palate fruit, wild raspberry, with some spicy notes, and fragrant violets. It retails for $50 but their private customer list gets special pricing. 2017 Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay from two different vineyards, majority from the 2017 harvest in Charleston, 14% from reserves from the Piccadilly Valley 2015 Vintage. Their reserves are stored in Magnum (like Bollinger), which is an expensive way to hold reserves, but provides great complexity in the wine. 32 months on lees. Delightful, delicate balance in this wine. Lovely nutty, cashew flavours on the palate, which are cut through perfectly with citrus fresh lime acidity. The ageing mentioned on these wines are the minimum, and Honey Moon retain stock still ageing on lees and disgorge on demand. They hand label and write the customer’s name on the bottle as well as the disgorgement date. 

Honey Moon Vineyard Rosé Brut 2015

85% Pinot Noir and 15% Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

This is a Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wine, based predominantly on Pinot Noir from the Honey

Tirage-bottled in January 2016, thus 45 months on lees (at the time of writing). Disgorged by hand, on demand means that the wine remains in contact with the yeast lees, under cool cellaring conditions, for as long as possible – with all the benefits this brings. The year and month of disgorgement is written on each label enabling one to calculate the time on lees. Dosage – 9.0 g/L

Appearance is delicate rose pink, with a fine pin-point bead. The aroma is subtle strawberry and quince aromas mingle with hints of citrus and sea breeze/oyster shell notes. A vibrantly fresh palate with notes of new season strawberry, cherry and delicate citrus. Subtle secondary nutty and bready notes, arising from the time on lees, are now becoming part of the wine’s complexity. The creamy texture and soft mousse builds pleasantly on the palate, integrating flavour with refreshing acidity to give a lingering and crisp finish. Pair with light dishes such as salads, seafood (salmon, shellfish, small ocean fish such as garfish and tommy ruffs, and chargrilled squid), sushi and white meats. Also delicious with soft cheeses.

Honey Moon Adelaide Hills Blanc de Blancs Brut 2017

Chardonnay 100%

90% Chardonnay from the Anderson (Almond Cart) vineyard in Charleston, plus 10% Chardonnay reserve wine from Piccadilly, Chapel Hill Vineyard, ex magnums (on light lees).

Total production 1,204 bottles, plus six magnums

Appearance is pale light yellow with vibrant green hue and fine bead.  Aroma is subtle lemon lime citrus aromas mingle with green apples, lively and fresh. Palate is a fresh aperitif style. Vibrant with notes of lemons and granny smith apples. A light creamy texture and refreshing mousse builds pleasantly on the palate, integrating flavour and acid to give a lingering and dry finish. Pair with light dishes such as entrées, salads, seafood (great with fresh oysters!) and white meats. Dosage 7.5 g/L. Disgorgement in Oct /Nov 2020 = 32 months on lees.

Private tastings can be arranged at their home by appointment. You can purchase online or join their private customer list. I discovered them on some of the best sparkling lists in Adelaide, and they were also a favourite at The Bubbles Festival Adelaide.

See website here.

Mordrelle

Visits to this small family-owned Cellar Door are by appointment. I visited Mordrelle twice during my stay, once on my own to taste the sparklings before returning a few days later with a group of friends, when we tasted sparklings and some of their still wines. Co-owner Martin Moran is not only a great winemaker, he is also a great host who is more than happy to tailor visits to what is needed.  Tastings are usually accompanied by olives, and cheese platters are available on request. If you want to make this your lunch stop, Martin will prepare an Argentinian BBQ, sharing the delights of cuisine from his homeland. If you ask him, Martin will play a few songs on his guitar too!

Martin holds an engineering degree in Agriculture (the second most difficult after Medicine) specialising in viticulture and oenology, making reds, whites, and sparkling wines. His winemaking travels brought him to the Adelaide Hills, where he fell in love with the area, and his now wife Michelle. Establishing Mordrelle together, with Michelle’s parents, the wine labels features artwork by Martin’s father, Jose Luis Moran, who passed away in 2010. “Our label is our opportunity to share with you the wonderful artistic skills of my father Jose Luis Moran and dedicating our wine to his memory,” says Martin. If you’re lucky, there might still be stocks of the ‘Wedding Wine’, produced for Martin and Michelle’s wedding. At the time of their wedding, it was a fresh young sparkling wine, served to their wedding guests. Today, with about 10 years of ageing on it, it is a more complex wine with a lovely nose. A Blanc de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, it is creamy on the mid palate, hints of umami saltiness, with crisp dry finish, as you would expect as a zero dosage.

All of the sparklings are Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay), Brut Nature (zero dosage). Mordrelle was another favourite at The Bubbles Festival Adelaide. The other wines in the sparkling range that we tasted were:

Mordrelle 2011 Blanc de Blancs – this one is a trophy winner. Produced from a cold and wet vintage, very crisp, fresh green apples, good length and acidity, an earth minerality of ocean and truffles.

Mordrelle 2012 Blanc de Blancs, Adelaide Hills ‘Museum Release’ Brut-Nature – another wine trophy winner.  A low yield vintage, lively fresh fruit, grapefruit with crisp acidity.

Mordrelle 2015 Blanc de Blancs Reserva, Adelaide Hills Brut-Nature – fresh on the palate, crisp, light, aperitif style. Winner of 2021 Adelaide Hills Wine Show Best Sparkling and Best Single Vineyard Wine.

Mordrelle Apple Cider, ‘Methode Traditionelle’ 2014 – I’m not a cider lover, but I did taste the Pink Lady Apple cider, which was very refreshing, made in the traditional method that adds some complexity. Cider lovers will appreciate this one.

See website here.

Wicks Estate Wines

We had the family-owned Wicks sparklings at The Bubbles Festival Adelaide and they were very popular. A Cellar Door is currently in development, so keep an eye on this one for future visits. For now, you can enjoy the view of the vineyard on your travels through the region. You can also see the virtual tasting for Wicks Estate on The Bubbles Review Facebook page.

Here are their tasting notes.

Wicks Estate – Pamela Sparkling Adelaide Hills 2015

Chardonnay 70%, Pinot Noir 30%

Our 2015 Pamela represents our finest expression of traditional method sparkling, a wine only produced in the finest vintages. Parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are hand-picked from our estate vineyard at Woodside with any imperfect fruit rejected to achieve the highest quality outcome. Traditional methods of whole bunch pressing, bottle fermentation and a minimum of four years on tirage help ensure a level of prestige and finesse. 100% Adelaide Hills, South Australia Cool Climate vineyards, individual parcel selection.

Colour is bright pale straw. Aroma is lifted buttery and toasty French oak, with a subtle hint of fresh cut apple and melon. Flavour is notes of brioche and white peach with hints of fresh cut apple and a fresh clean finish on the palate. 5.9 g/L Residual Sugar. Pair with oysters or a selection of gourmet cheese and dried fruits. Cellar for 10+ years.

Wicks Estate – Chardonnay Pinot Noir Vintage Adelaide Hills 2020

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

Fashioned with vibrant fruit and sparkling purity, this early release style vintage sparkling is based upon the most famous sparkling wine varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Blended from two clones of Chardonnay and two clones of Pinot Noir, these carefully selected parcels from the Wicks Estate vineyards were meticulously nurtured through the winemaking process in order to retain their pristine fruit flavours and delicate aromatic nuances. A layering of complexity achieved through the secondary fermentation provides and delightful distraction from the crisp apple chardonnay derived characters and the gentile strawberry notes from the Pinot Noir all tied together by the fine, refreshing natural acidity. Colour is pale straw. Aroma is lifted florals. Flavour is fresh green apple with white stone fruit. 5.0 g/L Residual Sugar. Pair with canapes and entrées. Cellar for 3–5 years.

See website here.

Petaluma

Founded by Brian Croser with the original vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley in the late 1980s, he was the first to produce Sparkling Wine from the Adelaide Hills, and Croser is the sparkling label of Petaluma. Now owned by the Accolade group, the Petaluma state-of-the-art winery has been in this new location since 2015 – situated on their estate vineyards in the township of Woodside, just a 40-minute drive from Adelaide CBD. The Cellar Door has expansive views of the Adelaide Hills, and the converted farmstead has a modern and elegant interior, and an outdoor deck overlooks the vineyard. They offer a selection of wine flights, including a Croser sparkling flight, Chardonnay flight or a Yellow Label flight, each served with a tasting of local produce.

I met with Paul Easton, one of the sparkling winemakers, who sat with me to take me through the tasting of their sparkling range. The Croser Non-Vintage made my list of ‘go to’ Aussie Sparklings a few years ago. It is a good consistent traditional method bubbly, and great value for money.

Croser NV Adelaide Hills

It is usually around 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, from selected sites in the Piccadilly Valley and other parts of the Adelaide Hills. A blend of the current vintage of Croser with reserve wine from several older vintages. Each vintage adding distinctive qualities to the final blend. Croser Non Vintage stays true to the ‘aperitif’ style, fresh bright fruit, hints of grapefruit, with balanced acidity. Methode traditionelle, the NV spends 12–18 months on lees. 

Croser Non-Vintage Rose NV

A blend of 100% Pinot Noir fruit sourced from selected cool climate vineyards across the Adelaide Hills and combined with several back vintage reserve wines of Pinot Noir delivers a sophisticated Methode traditionelle. It is whole bunch pressed, and after settling, the juice is fermented in a combination of 80% stainless steel, with 20% fermented in old oak barriques for added complexity. The colour is blush salmon pink. Lovely mid palate fruit of red berries. Mineral saltiness on the finish.

2015 Croser Piccadilly Valley Vintage Sparkling

This is a blend of 63% Pinot Nor and 37% Chardonnay.  Complex, elegant and creamy on the palate.

The fruit is hand-picked from the Piccadilly Valley, and the Petaluma Yellow Reserve Chardonnay also comes from the Piccadilly Valley. It is chilled overnight, then whole bunch pressed, then fermented, blended, filtered, tiraged and stored on lees for a minimum of 3 years. Disgorged at their new state of the art winery.

On the nose and palate, there was notes of stone fruit, brioche and strawberry. Fine crisp finish, nuttiness on back palate, with hints of sourdough. A little bit of malolactic fermentation is used, which softens the acidity, leaving a very fine crisp finish.

The next vintage is the 2017, which has been released since my visit.

Croser 2006 Late Disgorged Piccadilly Valley

Slightly warmer growing season than the long-term average. Smaller yields provided exceptional fruit concentration and natural acidity. The near-perfect conditions at harvest saw traditional picking dates for both varieties in mid to late March.

The nose had the complexity you expect from a wine aged on lees for 12 years. Disgorged in late 2019. This is zero dosage. Traditional champagne yeast is used for fermentation. On the nose, I noted sticky toffee, with yeast bakery notes of brioche, as well as some strawberry and baked apples. Lovely mid palate experience of fruit, finishing to the front palate with spice. Remarkably fresh with crunchy acidity with a wonderfully fine bead and creamy mousse. Honey, cashew and apple pie complement the layers of complexity on the palate.

See website here.

Bird in Hand

Owned by the Nugent family, the venue décor and sculpture collection is a work in progress as the Nugent family continue their love of collecting pieces from around the world. Exciting things are happening here as they prepare for their $30 million development of a new Cellar Door, Restaurant and Art Gallery. Art is a big part of the ethos of this winery, and the grounds feature original works from artists who demonstrate a philosophical connection to the spirit of the winery. Sculptures in the gardens, inspiring interiors, paintings that speak to our time and nod to the classics.

Bird in Hand Flight Club members get private access to dine at The Gallery Restaurant, where a seasonal curation of artworks by Hugo Michell Gallery provides a visual feast while overlooking the vineyard. Beyond the restaurant, the love of art continues.

On my visit, I met the Sparkling Winemaker, Sara Burnvill. Bird in Hand are probably most well known for their NV sparkling which is a rosé. This is a charmat method, usually 100% Pinot Noir, although 2020 did have some Chardonnay included as harvest volume was challenged by the bushfires in the region. This is their volume wine, with 100 thousand cases produced, and is a big seller in Australia and the UK.

Aside from their flagship sparkling, Bird in Hand also make some lovely Methode Traditionelle sparklings, which are named after family members. Here is what I tasted during my visit.

2018 O (OWN) Sparkling

OWN is named after the owner’s son. It is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, very crisp, light on palate. Aromas of red apple, citrus blossom, honey nougat and lovely mid palate fruit, fleshy white peach and lemon zest, subtle oak spice with crisp dry finish and mineral saltiness. 26 months on lees, 6gms dosage.

Nest Egg Joy 2015

Joy is named after Andrew’s mum. It is a 2015 vintage traditional method, Blanc de Noirs of 100% Pinot Noir. Notes of red apple combined with pink grapefruit, a hint of musk and subtle shortbread aromatics. A delicious brut style sparkling with a richness and creaminess on the palate from the natural fruit weight and time on lees in bottle. A tight acid line and fine lacy bead drive the wine through the palate adding length and precision. Nest Egg Joy is aged for 30 months on its lees before release to add further texture and complexity resulting in subtle biscuit, brioche and shortbread characters.

Lalla Victoria 2007

This is a late disgorged version of Joy. It has spent 8 years ageing on lees. It is the 2007 vintage, disgorged in 2015. It offers further complexity from extended ageing. The nose offers spicy notes from the Pinot Noir, with a richness and creaminess on the palate, lovely mid palate fruit with spicy notes on the finish and extended length.

See website here.

Pike & Joyce

Pike & Joyce Wines was established in 1998 as the coming together of the Pike family from Pikes Wines in the Clare Valley, and the Joyce family, fifth generation horticulturists from the Adelaide Hills – a joint venture of two families who share a love of the region, a passion for viticulture, and a desire to produce only the finest wine. The vineyard is all hand pruned and handpicked, with the fruit being chilled overnight in the Joyce cool rooms, before being transported to Pike’s Clare Valley winery for vinification.

This is a ‘wow’ factor Cellar Door! The restaurant and tasting room is housed in a sandstone structure with glass (a lot of it retractable), giving 180-degree views over the single estate vineyard and the spectacular Onkaparinga Valley. Contemporary Australian themed artwork adorns the walls as you enter, and the philosophy of the restaurant menu is all about embracing seasonal and local produce.

I tasted the NV ‘Methode Cuve’ Pinot Noir Rosé

A bright, pale salmon pink blush. Tank method (aka Cuve or Charmat). This is fresh and fruity, a perfect light on the palate summer drinking wine. Aromas of tropical fruit, cranberry and strawberry.

Since my visit, they have also released the 2016 MT Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. The fifth release of their ‘Methode Traditionelle’. It has spent 4.5 years on lees resulting in complexity that you would expect in a quality sparkling wine. This small batched wine is available exclusively from the Cellar Door.

See website here.

Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard

Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard (MLRV) is a family-owned, five star rated boutique winery nestled high in the Adelaide Hills at Lenswood 20km due east of Adelaide at a height of 550m. This picturesque sloping vineyard, where all vines are hand pruned and grapes are hand-picked, produces fruit of consistently high quality.

I met the owners Sharon Pearson and Garry Sweeney at the restaurant and cellar door, which has stunning views of the vineyard and surrounding ranges. Using sustainable reclaimed timbers and repurposed materials the venue also features a glass dining room, three tiered decks and undercover outdoor dining. Provenance of wine and food is at the forefront of MLRV’s philosophy, with a strong emphasis on ethical local farming and menus defined by seasonal and locally grown produce.

Established in 1992, the vineyard has 19,000 planted vines consisting of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They make traditional method sparklings, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I sat down for a tasting with Garry and then had lunch on the deck enjoying the views of the vineyard.

Méthode Traditionelle Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2018

Garry told me that this was their seventh Méthode Traditionelle. A blend of Pinot Noir 55% and Chardonnay 45%. The wine has spent some time in oak, before tirage with 26 months on lees.  Lovely on the nose, a leanness in the fruit characteristics, the creamy mousse, sits very light on the palate, crisp aperitif style, with a mineral saltiness on the finish.

Méthode Traditionelle – Late Disgorged – Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2013

The late disgorged is a similar blend of 60% Pinot Noir, and 40% Chardonnay, it has spent extra time on lees, a total of almost 7 years.

Lovely nose with aromas of brioche, toffee, autolysis bringing biscuity, sourdough notes. Rich on the palate, but surprisingly light, it almost levitates on the palate, lovely and delicate.

The restaurant is open daily for lunch and set menu options apply. Friday Night Sunset Sessions are held on the first Friday of every month. Sip some bubbles (or one of their still wines) by the open fire, and enjoy live music and dine on a two or three course a la carte menu or a five course tasting menu.

See website here.

Golding Wines

Golding Wines is situated on the outskirts of Lobethal, within the Lenswood appellation. A family-owned vineyard, their philosophy is that the best wines come from great vineyards and taste even better when shared in beautiful surrounds.

The Goldings have created a beautiful space to enjoy their wines. The Cellar Door, housed in what was a family-built sandstone barn, is surrounded by ancient gums, a lush garden with landscaped terraces, encased by their vineyard.

The Tasting Room offers wine flights, accompanied by canapés, and cheese platters are also available.

They have two sparklings on tasting – one from the Market Series and one from their Portrait Series.

Market Series – Last Hurrah Sparkling

The Market series comes from family history of working at the East End Markets, and the celebration of its ‘Last Hurrah’ when it closed. “It surely was the end of an era when the grand old dame that was the East End Market closed in 1988. Celebrated with no less than a gala ball for over 800 guests. It was a magical event etched into the minds of the old market merchants and known as The Last Hurrah”.

55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay – Charmat method. Aromas of strawberry and crunchy green apple. The palate is bright, fresh, and fabulous, finishing with crisp citrus.

Portrait Series – 2013 Marjorie

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Named after Lucy Golding’s grandmother who always loved a celebration. “It’s fitting that our premium Sparkling wine, made in the traditional method, is dedicated to her. Marjorie is inspired by our love of great Champagne.” Extended lees ageing of around 3 years, adds complex toasted nut and yeasty characters to the honeyed poached apple aromas. The palate offers notes of lemon and is crisp with a lingering finish. A persistent fine bead and creamy mousse gives extra lift to these delicious aromas and flavours.

Other tasting experiences include Nido (Italian for nest). A quirky way to enjoy your afternoon, nestled in a giant nest, set in the vineyard with a 5 course grazing menu. There is also a Wine Safari (a tasting amongst the vines). A Pallet Picnic Experience (a picnic with rugs, cushions, table set with linen and cutlery). A tepee for grown-ups completes the setting! Or you could choose Hamper in the Hills for a self-guided picnic experience.

The Ginkgo restaurant also serves seasonal plates and wood-fired dishes. Awarded Gourmet Traveller – Best Cellar Door Tasting Experience – Adelaide Hills 2020.

See website here.

Sidewood

The Sidewood Restaurant and Cellar Door is a stunning mix of materials in the interior, including giant Victorian Ash trusses, local stone flooring, and warm caramel leather banquettes. The venue also features an eclectic collection of Australian art, including works by Olsen, Blackman, Boissevain and Grey-Smith. This flows outside onto an enormous hardwood deck, which offers many different types of casual dining experiences. Set amongst eucalyptus trees and landscaped gardens, there are lounges in front of an open two-way stone fireplace, bar stools along a fifteen-metre bar overlooking petanque and lawn bowls courts, a kid friendly location nature playground and six VIP day beds that are available for hire. Who doesn’t love a day bed?!

Sidewood is a family-owned, 5 Red Star Halliday Wine Companion accredited winery, and they are the largest Certified Sustainable Winery in the Adelaide Hills. My friends joined me for this tasting of a great range of sparkling wines, followed my lunch in the dining room. And a quick photo opportunity from one of the day beds!

Here is what we tasted:

NV Sidewood Estate Sparkling Pinot Rose

Grapes are selected from low yielding vines and chilled in the cold room within an hour of picking, before being gently pressed. Free-run juice is then fermented with partial malolactic and extended time on lees prior to secondary ferment and bottling.

This 100% Pinot Noir wine has aromas of fresh strawberry, wild raspberries and dried fig. The palate is round and beautifully balanced. Intense flavours of cherry, white peach and strawberries are matched with a crisp minerality and a touch of brioche. The natural acidity provides excellent structure and finesse with a luscious, generous mouthfeel. 

NV Sidewood Estate Sparkling

A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, the bouquet offers aromas of strawberry, lemon citrus and underlying notes of biscotti. The palate is elegant, displaying intense strawberry, nectarine and cashew characters, which is enhanced by partial malolactic fermentation and extended time on yeast lees providing softness and complexity, while still retaining natural acidity for structure and finesse. A mouth-watering citrus and nougat finish.

2015 Sparkling Chloe Cuvee

With a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, this wine has wonderful toasty brioche aromas enhanced by green fruits and zesty citrus. The palate has a harmonious balance of orange blossom, biscotti and green apple that complement the salty, driving minerality balanced perfectly with an elegant creamy finish.

2015 Sidewood Cassandra Blanc de Blancs

The wine showcases a complex, creamy mouthfeel marrying notes of buttered brioche, marmalade and dried orange peel on the nose, leading to a saline, oyster-shell minerality and racy acidity on the palate. Fig, ginger and white peach are abundant, the tasting notes describe it as: “Cassandra Blanc de Blancs is a powerful and persistent vinous songstress, with each ‘note’ in complete operatic, sensory-harmony”.

2014 Isabella Rosé Sparkling

This wine of extraordinary sophistication and poise is named after the owners’ and vignerons’ daughter, Isabella Rose. With a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, this wine displays aromas of red berries with enticing delicate hints of pressed flowers. Flavours of wild strawberries, black cherries, citrus blossom and toasted brioche delight the palate and are balanced with zesty, crisp acidity and long textural finish.

Sidewood is open for tastings and restaurant bookings every day except Tuesdays and Public Holidays.

See website here.

The Lane Vineyard

Sitting 400m high atop the rolling hills adjacent the Onkaparinga Valley, The Lane Vineyard is a boutique state-of-the-art winery, modern cellar door and award-winning vineyard restaurant. Their Single vineyard Estate wines are paired with their five-course Provenance menu, exploring the rich connection between food, wine and their origins, and designed to feature the best South Australian produce.

Another ‘wow’ factor location, visiting the Lane is not just about food and wine, but aspires to heighten your food and wine discovery with a range of experiences. The Gathering Experience is the Lane’s signature tasting, where you take a seat and enjoy a miniature degustation style wine tasting that showcases the harmony between their estate wines and restaurant menu. A heightened discovery of their flagship Estate range thoughtfully paired with amuse-bouche by the chef.

You can also reserve exclusive experiences including blend your own wine, the Panaroma enjoy lunch in a private location in the vineyard; Boatshed by the lake, Winemaker, and Chef experiences. 

Lois NV Blanc de Blancs

A refreshing blend of five different Chardonnay clones showcases its complexity, displaying hints of subtle citrus, white flower, granny smith apple and toasted brioche. A creamy palate balanced by a fine bead and crisp acidity.

2015 Estate Cuveé Blanc de Blancs

The highest parcels of fruit from the Balhannah Vineyard highlight the unique terroir. This is a ‘méthode traditionnelle’ sparkling, which has been aged for a minimum of 5 years in bottle and disgorged on demand. Aromas of lemon zest and brioche dough with a delicate palate of vanilla bean and shortbread balanced by a fine bead and crisp acidity.

2010 Heritage Late Disgorged Cuvée

The Heritage collection is made to showcase the nuances of single vineyard terroir. This was a highlight, as you would expect from a late disgorged sparkling, lovely and complex on the palate. Made using ‘méthode traditionnelle’, aged for a minimum of 10 years in bottle and disgorged on demand. A rich palate of tangerine, toasted sourdough, cultured butter, honeycomb and almond praline. All tightly held together with vibrant citrus fruits that drive a lovely line down the tongue and nice length to savour at the end.

See website here.

Howard Vineyard

Howard Vineyard is a second-generation family-owned business located in Nairne. When I visited, they had the 2020 Sparkling Rose on tasting. It’s a Charmat method, and I met the wine maker Tom who told me that they only do vintage, so each sparkling showcases the fruit of that year. They do some barrel work on the wines before the second fermentation in tanks. They usually have at least one sparkling on tasting. There was a 2020 Blanc de Blancs which was due for release soon, and I managed to get a bottle to take with me and try later. As you would expect from tank method wines, they are fresh and showcase vibrant primary fruit on the palate, producing easy drinking bubbly. There is a youth and playfulness in the heart of what they do here. The Cellar Door has a lovely lawn area with views of the vines, and they have a restaurant with an Asian-influenced menu, known for their dumplings that would be a great match with the sparkling rose.  

See website here.

Somerled Cellar Bar – Hahndorf

This wine bar in the town of Hahndorf was a lovely discovery. I arrived just before closing, but the lovely Meela looked after me with a quick tasting of their sparkling, which is not always on tasting. They serve platters, so a visit works well as a pre-dinner stop, or an afternoon of grazing in the courtyard. Somerled is a family-owned label, and their wines are made at the Greenhills Winery. I tasted:

Somerled Sparkling 2016 Min 24 months on lees and disgorged in small batches. 100% Pinot Noir. I do enjoy a Blanc de Noir, and this was light with lovely mid palate fruit and a crisp dry finish. It is considered a Brut Nature with a dosage of less than 1gm.

See website here.


Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

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.

Bubbly border hopping – delivering The Bubbles Festival during a pandemic!

My name is Natalie Pickett, and many of you will know me as the Founder of The Bubbles Review and Creator of The Bubbles Festival. Recently, I have had the honour of being interviewed about The Bubbles Review in major publications in the USA (the links to the articles are at the end of this post), and I thought it would be a great idea to share some insight with you about where the idea for The Bubbles Review came from and a behind the scenes look at what it took to deliver the recent sold-out Bubbles Festivals across Australia in the middle of a global pandemic!

As a serial entrepreneur, I have founded multiple businesses, with both 6 and 7 figure success stories. I have had my share of triumphs and so called ‘failures’. After closing my travel company during the GFC, I established a successful consulting, mentoring and speaking business. I like to operate from my core values, one of which is ‘fun’, which we can forget to make a priority in business. I love being able to share this knowledge with others, to help them to take their business, and daily life, from surviving to thriving.

The Bubbles Review is my passion business. The ‘Aha!’ moment was a culmination of two things. The first was that I had always loved champagne and sparkling wine. For my 18th birthday I had a champagne luncheon. I love the stories, the romance, the glamour of it. 

The other ‘Aha!’ moment came to me at a marketing seminar when the presenter mentioned that because he had wine review websites, he claimed his wine purchases as a tax deduction. And at that moment, I knew my review blog would be about sparkling wine. Once I did the business case it was an easy ‘Yes!’, and I could incorporate my travel industry skills to run events and tours. Creating a business that means you get paid to drink champagne is awesome, and we’ve been listed in the top champagne blogs in different countries around the world, which is also pretty amazing!

The keys to success with each of my businesses is that they all come from my passion, my core values, and my desire to contribute and share my knowledge with others. When they become stressful, I remind myself that business and life is supposed to be fun. Our businesses should work for us, not the other way around.

I have purposely kept the pace of growth of this business at a level that doesn’t become overwhelming. This is important, because The Bubbles Review is my bubbly passion project. The number 1 priority is that it should be fun – for me, and everyone who shares the bubbly joy with me.

The idea for what has become our signature event – The Bubbles Festival – came to me in a meditation one morning, and I like to think that it was divinely inspired.  I mentioned it to a friend who owned an art space, and he was very enthusiastic and provided the venue free of charge so that I could deliver the inaugural The Bubbles Festival in April 2017. The first one was about testing to see if it was of interest – both for exhibitors to showcase their champagne and sparkling wine and ticket holders to the event. The inaugural Bubbles Festival (and a follow-up event in October 2017), received very positive feedback, with patrons giving the event 5 stars.

Postponing The Bubbles Festival in 2020 was incredibly disappointing, particularly because it was the first time that I was taking the event nationally. It was also very costly, as by the time restrictions on mass gatherings across the country were imposed, we’d already expended a lot of the advertising budget. I had appointed team members in other states to assist with set up and had paid deposits to venues. Moving the events meant that most of that expenditure was lost, except for the venues who were accommodating in finding solutions and refunding larger deposits. Not all venues managed this well, but most did.

Delivering The Bubbles Festival in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth in 2021 was no mean feat! The invitation for exhibitors was sent in February, which was later than usual, as I tried to forecast restrictions. We had some exhibitors who were still committed since 2020, as well as new wonderful exhibitors who enthusiastically signed up, but by March, restrictions were still fluctuating, so some were wanting to wait and see before committing.

Ticket holders, on the other hand, were ‘champing’ at the bit.  I think that having been under restrictions for so long, people were so happy to be out and about, meeting likeminded people and drinking bubbly. Almost every session was sold out, and in some locations, the whole event was sold out in a matter of weeks, and people were writing to me begging for tickets, and offering to pay more to attend.

I designed the event just like I would if I was arranging for people to come to my home. That’s why everything is included – a lovely glass, canapés, and a welcoming introduction on sparkling wine from me. Once people are at the event, they don’t need to keep paying for extras like more tastings or food – they just relax, mingle and enjoy the bubbly experience.

Anyone who has planned events before will know there are always challenges, but COVID added a whole new dimension. Capacity restrictions were moved up and down several times, and every state had their own version of conditions around public gatherings.

My experience of 30 years in travel and events gave me the confidence to be able to deliver, and Melbourne kicked off the series and was a great success. After achieving the record for the most locked down city in the world in 2020, people were excited to be out enjoying being social and drinking bubbles. It was so exciting to be hosting this event – a much needed and long overdue celebration!

“We had great fun and loved the available selection of French champagne and sparkling wines. The accompanying canapés were delicious too! Looking forward to attending future Bubbles Festivals.” ~ Leanne Turner

“Fun night out with friends who truly appreciate fine champagne and all things bubbly.” ~ Kate Cadet

“Great way to spend the afternoon!” ~ Rick McLeod

“A lovely way to spend a couple of hours trying and learning about the bubbles, the background to them, food pairing and meeting other like-minded souls.” ~ Janet MacLeish

“I love the evening. The only drawback was that I wish it was longer. In saying that, I would still come again and enjoy it just as much.  Thank you for a great night out!” ~ Betheia Lele

The next day, there were hints that Perth (the location for the event on the next weekend), may go into lockdown – and on Monday, the Western Australian (WA) Premier announced the restrictions. We could probably have proceeded, but everyone would need to be wearing masks, and from a safety point of view, you don’t want to put your patrons at risk and you certainly do not want your event to be listed as an exposure site. The difficult decision was made to move the Perth event forward at least 6 weeks to give time for the case numbers to go down and for restrictions around public gatherings to return to a point where the ticket holders in Perth could enjoy the event at its most celebratory.

As I was dealing with the date changes for Perth, and finalising post event activities for Melbourne, I received a message from a cousin of Michelle (our Sydney-based Event Manager), who was writing to advise me that Michelle had passed away suddenly from a heart attack. We were only 4 weeks out from the Sydney event and Michelle had been assisting us with preparations, including sourcing a new venue (the lovely RACA), student helpers and securing some late exhibitor sign ups. I had known Michelle for many years through our different roles in tourism. She was a consummate professional and beautiful soul. I was devasted for her husband and family, and I cried for days. The only good thing that came out of moving the dates of the Perth event, was that I was free to travel to Sydney to attend Michelle’s funeral later that week.

I had planned to stay overnight after Michelle’s funeral, but there were news reports of COVID infections and exposure sites in different parts of the city, including the area we were currently in for Michelle’s wake. There was an announcement that Sydney would enforce restrictions from 5pm that evening, and I realised that if I stayed, I would run the risk of having to quarantine when going back to Victoria, and therefore not be able to get to Brisbane and Adelaide for the next two events. I quickly changed my flight, said my goodbyes and headed for the airport. I made it safely back to Melbourne before any issues arose about having been in Sydney.

Our Brisbane Bubbles Festival was the next event, and although there were fluctuating concerns since a lockdown about a month prior (which prevented me from visiting for a pre-event site visit), we were safely able to proceed with Brisbane without too many disruptions. The event sold out within 2 weeks of the tickets being released. We had a waitlist and were eventually able to release more tickets to the waitlist as capacity restrictions were eased. Our WA exhibitors couldn’t travel to Queensland, as it was too risky for them to get caught in another state due to WA’s strict COVID border controls. We made arrangements to staff their stands, and the event was a great success with many people coming to thank me for arranging such a wonderful celebration during these incredibly challenging times.

“We really enjoyed our first Bubbles Festival event and would recommend it to our friends!” ~ Peta Shiels

“The Bubbles Festival was a welcome relaxed Evening. Informative as much as social and some wonderfully attired folks who made an effort which pairs with the Classic Architecture and history of the Building.” ~  Anya Slinn            

“A delightful sensation for the nose and palate.  Fabulous selection of Bubbly and Canapés to complement. I am also happy to say the wines I enjoyed most were both from Australian wine makers. Well done Natalie for a great event. See you at the next one 😘🤗🥂” ~ Jane Dewit

“Very well organised & great selection.” ~ Ingrid Ostbye

“A very bubbly evening thank you 🥂” ~ Kerrie Hodgson

“A wonderful way to taste some interesting bubbles from Australia and overseas.” ~ Peter Ryan

“I am so glad I found out about this event. If you get a chance to come and join in the future, do it. Meet new people learn more about bubbles. What more can I say!” ~ Loretta Carmichael

“A fabulous night in an amazing venue. It was a wonderful opportunity to discover some new sparkling wines complemented perfectly by the selection of canapés. Would definitely go again!” ~ Rachel Hodgson

“Fantastic night with great bubbles and canapes – learned a lot! Beautiful venue with views over the river and lights on the bridge added to the atmosphere.” ~ Debbie          

“My first experience and not my last. It was refreshingly educational, enjoyable and a wonderful way to start the weekend. Fantastic!” ~ Chris Hodgson

“A fun & educational event, can’t wait for the next one!” ~ Lesley Harris

Our next stop was Adelaide, and we were blessed with no major breakout. South Australian (SA) border restrictions were pretty risk adverse, so it was a bit touch and go. Victoria had recently recorded a few cases and SA had closed the border to anyone from Victoria who had been in an identified hotspot. Lucky for me, I had not. Arriving at Adelaide airport, I waited in a long queue as border officials checked entry permits on incoming flights from Victoria. The Adelaide event was sold out, and I had people writing to me begging for tickets and offering to pay more. Fortunately, due to the easing of some restrictions, we were able to release a small number of new tickets, which sold out in just two days!

“What a fabulous afternoon filled with quality bubbles – looking forward to the next one and bringing more friends along 🥂🥂🥂 – thanks Natalie 🥂” ~ Julie Johnston

 “A fun way to get together with friends and learn more about the art of Bubbles… with a great range of local produce all in one easy location.” ~  Sharon Gulley-Frith

“A great event showcasing local bubbles with comprehensive tasting notes and friendly producers. Well orchestrated- thank you.” ~ Sarah Vaile

“Great fun day with excellent bubbles!!” ~ Faye Lorain

“Just a great way to spend a few hours, delightful selection of sparkling with knowledgeable wine experts, some tasty nibbles and fun.” ~ Fiona Rich

“Bubbles, bubbles, much more than froth and trouble, even though too many could lead to it!” ~ Anita Zocchi                          

“Had a great time tasting different bubbles with friends!” ~ Amy Blackmore         

“Had a great time and the VIP experience was well worth it.  Would come again.” ~ Cheryl Lees

“The best educational tasting & girls day out I’ve been to in the city!” ~ Ashleigh

“Highly recommend the Bubbles festival. Went with 3 friends and had a ladies’ day out. Full of fun and met new people tasting many wines. Had a great day and can’t wait for the next one. “ ~ Sue Lushington               

“I would thoroughly recommend the bubbles festival to all my friends, I had a very enjoyable experience.”

As we moved through the series of Bubbles Festivals, I kept getting the feeling that everything would be okay. It was like we’d found this level of flow that was allowing us to gently navigate the challenges of the uncertainty of so many factors and conditions.

With Adelaide under our belts, I returned home to Melbourne. By this time, exposure sites were growing, and by Tuesday, one of the sites listed as a concern was the MCG during a crowded football match. SA had closed their border to all of Victoria, so we were lucky to have been able to hold the Adelaide event only days before. I was booked to fly to Sydney for our event that coming weekend, but looking like a lockdown could be imminent, I wondered if I should try to get on an earlier flight. I checked availability and there were seats, but at about 10 times the price I had paid. My flight was around 1.30pm the next day, and I decided it would be okay. It was totally nerve wracking waiting for the press conference as I prepared to leave for the airport. The Victorian Government announced that the state would go into the lockdown at 5pm that day. I checked the NSW response, and by that stage they hadn’t imposed any border restrictions for Victorians, but I wasn’t going to ‘count my chickens’ until I was through the arrivals lounge on the other side. I boarded my flight and hoped for the best. 

When we landed in Sydney, I checked my phone and there was a text from my mother saying “Are you there yet? You need to be in by 4pm!” It was just after 2.30pm, so I was there just in time to avoid the ‘stay at home’ orders that were being imposed on anyone arriving from Victoria. The Sydney event was another success, with two sold out sessions. We received glowing reviews and the event was lots of fun. 

“What a fabulous way to spend two hours, educational and fun. Can’t wait till next time.” ~ Simone Messenger

“All the suppliers were very knowledgeable and accommodating. Tasting notes help you to remember who had which wine. Loved it all!!” ~ Johanne Champness

“What a fabulous event!! So happy get on board with this event!! Do yourself a favour – get out of your comfort zone of sparkling wine & champagne & go to The Bubbles Festival!!! You will be surprised & amazed!!” ~ Corinne Layton

“It was a great event and I highly recommend you catch the next one. The sooner the better!!” ~ Peter Robert Tuckey

“For a night of “Bubbles”, friends and a bit of learning too, this is a fun event to attend. We shall return. Thank you Natalie!” ~ Melinda Baderski

“A fabulous event! Natalie was a wonderful host, taking us through the art of tasting and finding our own ‘happy place’.” ~ Erin Noordeloos

“What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. See you next year.” ~ Janet Green

In the days after my arrival, I realised that returning home to Victoria (which was now in lockdown with an ever-growing list of COVID exposure sites), would risk the upcoming Perth event. The WA government had already closed the border to anyone arriving from Victoria, or who had been in Victoria during the dates of the outbreak, which was eventually changed to been in Victoria within 14 days of arrival.

An array of different logistical options were running around my head! ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’ The Perth event was 4 weeks away, and it was possible that things could clear in Victoria before the event – but it was a risk, and one that I wanted to mitigate. Having already postponed the event from 2020 to 2021, and then having to move it again only a few weeks ago, I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that the event would run. I had some loyal and patient ticket holders who were still holding tickets from our pre-sales in late 2019. I didn’t want to move the event again. Yes, it was possible it could be run without me if I found someone locally to do it, but that wasn’t ideal because my followers were expecting me to be there.

I researched all the different state border options, looking for the best way to get to WA. Counting out days on the calendar, it worked out that I had exactly enough days to spend 14 days in NSW, which at this stage was mainly clear of COVID, to then arrive in WA with 14 days clear in case I needed to quarantine on arrival. If NSW stayed with low or no COVID cases, the plan would work. I cancelled and changed flight bookings. I had only packed for a few days in Sydney, so I shopped for essentials and my daughter kindly sent me some extra clothing from our home.

While I could have stayed in Sydney for the rest of the 14 days, I decided to see if Byron Bay was an option. I could rent an Airbnb room and have a nice time catching up with friends. I checked flights and they were available and cheap. If I was going to need to work remotely, then I would choose some special places to work from. As soon as I arrived in Byron, I knew I had made the right choice – I could feel the stress of the past few weeks just drift away.

I arrived back in Sydney the night before my flight to Perth and stayed at an airport hotel. Having done the amount of work I had done to be able to arrive safely in time for the Perth event, I didn’t want to take any risks of missed connections! Everything was looking fine for me to arrive without needing to quarantine, but I was still apprehensive about what would happen on arrival. After touchdown, we were advised that we would need to wait on board until the WA Police were available to meet the flight. We needed to have our border passes ready to be viewed, and there were signs to inform us to have our hands free so that we could be sanitised before proceeding.

At the head of the queue, there were two people in full PPE gowns, masks, and face shields – one person to take our temperature, and one to spray our hands with sanitizer. Once that was done, we visited a cubicle to respond to a police officer asking questions. I was incredibly relieved to be given the ‘all clear’ – free to enter the state and no quarantine!

I had a pre-event site inspection of the venue booked for that afternoon, and then I was also free to enjoy the rest of my plans, which were to travel to Broome the following day to stay at my Mum’s place. The irony was that she had travelled to Melbourne for her sister’s 80th birthday on the day that I flew into Sydney. She was now stranded in Melbourne, because even as a resident she was unable to return home to Broome without a 14-day quarantine period in Perth. While it was disappointing that I wouldn’t be able to spend some time with my Mum, if I needed to be working remotely, I was going to make the most of it. One of my clients had called my efforts ‘an odyssey’, and I agreed with that very apt description of the adventure I was on!

My dear friend Jane, who had been managing the door at the events, lives in northern NSW, and although NSW had remained a very low risk category, there were new cases starting to be recorded. I had become very good at predicting what would happen with restrictions and border closures, so Jane and I discussed options that would still allow her to make it into WA for the Perth event. I suggested that we book her onto a direct flight from Sydney to Broome the next day, but there were none. I knew that every passing day would mean an increase in cases in NSW and possible closure of the WA border to any arrivals from that state.

The new plan was to have Jane arrive in Perth early. By this stage the travel budget had been well and truly blown, so although it would mean a few extra nights’ accommodation, it would still be better than me trying to find and train extra staff only days before the event. Jane managed to get a booking to travel on the Monday to Perth. The WA border was still open but was changing whilst people were mid-air enroute, with an extra restriction for NSW arrivals – which was get a COVID test on arrival and isolate until getting a negative test result. There was a chance that the border would close or a 14-day quarantine period would be imposed, which would make her arrival obsolete as she wouldn’t be able to work at the event. We enquired about the alternative, which would mean Jane having to return to NSW on the next flight back. She was bringing the banners and some other event supplies and having already changed flights several times, it was now a very expensive airfare. We did joke about how expensive that would make it for just delivering the banners if she was to be turned away. But make it in she did, and the border closed to NSW arrivals the following day.

The Perth Bubbles Festival was another great, sold-out success. We received so many wonderful comments, and some of them were so lovely, that in my state of post-event series exhaustion they brought a tear to my eye. We’d done it! Five sell out events across the country, border hopping like fugitives, and working every angle or option to be able to deliver.

“It was a fun time and definitely recommend 💕” ~ Veronique Shepherd

“This is such a fantastic event; for those who truly love their bubbles and want to experience some that they wouldn’t ordinarily try.  Natalie is so knowledgeable!” ~ Kelly

“Best two hours of fun I’ve had for a long time and it was great to share it with friends and other lovely attendees 😊” ~ Marla Reid

“Thank you Natalie for organising a wonderful event.  It was an absolutely wonderful event and glad we held onto our tickets.  Third time we got there.  The atmosphere was awesome and got to chat to lovely fellow guests and exhibitors and of course the sparkling wines and Champagnes were fantastic.  Thanks again, looking forward to the next event.” ~ Jo-anne Kramer

“Thank you for bringing to WA a unique experience for the bubbly lovers. Having a very knowledgeable and passionate presenter-founder made the experience that extra bit more enjoyable. I look forward to the next one.” ~ Brenda Fenerty

“Fantastic night with many and varied bubbles from which to choose paired with a delicious grazing board! Well done 👍” ~ Allison Pivac     

“A well organised event with some fantastic sparklings showcased.” Louize Kang

“This was my first time at a Bubbles Festival and it was fabulous. I will definitely be back and so will my friends!” ~ Ceri Writer

“My Friend and I have a Fabulous afternoon as VIPs, the tastings were generous the Grazing table spectacular …. We are excited to attend any future events and have a few friends who are very keen to come with us.  An exceptional day which was enjoyable and extremely informative.” ~  Logan Nicholson

“The Bubbles Festival is a well organized fun event that is not only informative but great value for money.” ~ Ina Boxshall

“What a fabulous afternoon to enjoy with friends and to sample some amazing BUBBLES from our regions within Australia cannot wait for the next experience.” ~ Leonie Spencer

“Had a great evening at The Bubbles Festival and would recommend going to The Bubbles Review’s events!” ~ Monicka McDonough

“I thought I couldn’t love bubbles any more but I was wrong!! This experience was second to none! A classy yet relaxed vibe with access to all the best, new, interesting and popular bubbles, some of which were completely new to me. The VIP experience was to die for, a great privilege. Congratulations to Natalie and her team for putting this together in today’s climate. A true testament to her love of bubbles and a phenomenal way to share it with the country! I will definitely be on the lookout for the next event!!” ~ Jana Bartecki

“Thanks to Natalie, Jane and the WA team for such an amazing evening. Covid had delayed me enjoying my 2020 Mother’s Day gift until now. Totally worth the wait and can’t wait to partake in the next event. Thank you again & keep up the great bubbly work!!” ~ Isla Ferrarotto          

“Fabulous afternoon out at a boutique feeling event. Lovely champers and sparkling wines. We really enjoyed it, thank you for persisting in trying to stage it!!”

“A great afternoon with the chance to mingle with likeminded bubbly lovers. A fun afternoon full of great sparkling on offer thank you!” ~ Brooke O’Donnell

We’d planned to have some time in Perth on the Sunday before returning home on Monday. We were relaxing at the Fremantle markets on the Sunday morning when we were told that Perth was going into restrictions by midday that day. Venue capacities would be reduced, and masks were mandatory indoors. We had delivered the Perth event just in time! Perth would then declare a lockdown commencing later that day, and the Victorian Government declared Perth a medium risk zone. Upon my return to Melbourne, I was (perhaps ironically) required to get a COVID test and isolate. It didn’t matter, I was happy to be home. I joke that one of the things that I have collected in 2021 is the QR check in apps for almost all the states of Australia!

I feel very blessed that we were able to hold the national series of Bubbles Festivals. I did have plans for some smaller events and tours in the later part of this year, but it’s September and Melbourne is back in lockdown. Sydney is too. It is unlikely that there will be opportunities for events for the rest of the year, but I remain hopeful that we will get a clear run for 2022. The plan is to take The Bubbles Festival to more locations in Australia, and eventually New Zealand, the USA and UK. I am also optimistic that we may even be able to hold our tour to Champagne in 2022, but perhaps that will be 2023.

Whilst working remotely in Broome, I had seen an opportunity to be a co-author in a book that was being published in the USA – Becoming an Unstoppable Woman! I submitted an application and at my interview, they asked me to tell them a bit about myself. I said ‘Sure. Let me tell you about my latest unstoppable story!’ I shared the story of being able to deliver all of these events during a pandemic, border closures, and snap lockdowns. It was definitely an example of being unstoppable. I was accepted and went on to create my chapter called ‘Living the Dream’, which is all about my career as an entrepreneur and business mentor, on overcoming adversity, with a focus on savouring life’s precious moments. The book was released in September and is now an international best-seller. It has also led to several articles published in the US media on my business success and how I created The Bubbles Review. There’s no stopping a woman on a bubbly mission! Cheers!

Get tickets for The Bubbles Festival 2022 on this special pre-sale here.

You may also like these articles

 Natalie Pickett: From Avocation To Vocation; How I Turned My Hobby Into A Career | by Penny Bauder | Authority Magazine | Sep, 2021 | Medium

Natalie Pickett: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life | by Pirie Jones Grossman | Authority Magazine | Sep, 2021 | Medium

Purchase link for the Becoming an Unstoppable Woman book- Natalie Pickett | She Rises Book Pre-Order (sherisesstudios.com)

Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

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.

Virtual Sparkling Cellar Doors

At The Bubbles Review we love sharing the joy of sparkling wine, through our award winning blog, and our events and tours. 

One of the things that I love about organising The Bubbles Festival is bringing the Cellar Doors, Producers and Distributors to our followers.  I love creating opportunities for people to discover new sparkling wines, meet the wine industry and develop a greater appreciation of what goes into making a quality sparkling wine.

As we are experiencing restrictions to keep us at home, many people are ordering online. So, we have created an opportunity to bring the Cellar Doors to you.  Just as we do at The Bubbles Festival, but in lockdown, we will do this in a virtual way.

Please see our list of virtual Cellar Doors below.  Order direct to support this great list of wineries and distributors of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. 


Printhie Wines – Orange, NSW

Sparklings:  Swift Sparkling – Swift NV Cuvée; Swift Sparkling Rosé; Swift 2012 Vintage Chardonnay Pinot Noir; Swift 2010 Blanc de Blancs; Swift 2016 Blanc de Noirs

From the highest vineyards in NSW on the slopes of the extinct volcano Mt Canobolas, an elite range of sparkling has been handcrafted by Printhie Wines. Brothers Ed and Dave Swift have made their mark on the Australian sparkling scene with their method traditionnelle Swift Sparkling. Exceptional winemaking, cool climate craftmanship and the luxury of time has created a trophy winning range of sparkling wine. Printhie’s passion for sparkling is demonstrated by the patience required to ensure each bottle of Swift Sparkling has been aged to perfection before release. Spending at least 5 years on lees with some up to 9 years. The range has won 10 trophies and over 60 medals in the last 4 years alone.

Special offer and promo code: Use ‘FREEDELIVERY’ coupon at checkout for free shipping.

See website to order


DAOSA – Adelaide Hills, Australia

Sparklings: 2017 DAOSA BLANC DE BLANCS; DAOSA NATURAL RÉSERVE 4TH RELEASE

The vision for Terre à Terre and DAOSA has been to grow grapes of exceptional quality from carefully selected vineyard sites every year, and then vinify them using the best of French and Australian wine practices. We believe that with rigour and precision, we can produce world class fine wines which will have great aging potential, combining elegance and power. We like to retain our independence from the common wine trends and focus on creating a Great Australian Classic. The DAOSA labels was established in 2008, but the heritage goes further back in time. We both grew up surrounded by passionate winemaking families, Xavier in Champagne, France and Lucy in the Adelaide Hills.

See website to order


Champagne Royal Riviera – Epernay, Champagne, France

Champagne: Champagne Royal Riviera Cuvee Brut Supreme.

A blend of Pinot Noir 50%, Chardonnay 40%, Pinot Meunier 10%.
Parcels are 66% Grand Cru and 33% Premier Cru, from Reims, Cote de Blanc and La Vallée de la Marne. A Brut Champagne, Non-vintage, made from 100% reserve wines. A traditional style Champagne, originating in Epernay, France.

Predominantly Pinot Noir and aging on lees, this wine is very playful on the palate. Mellow tannin swirls enable the elegant mousse to open to its full potential, creating fullness in the cheeks. The second-generation notes are complemented by freshness and soft effervescence achieved by blending Chardonnay from exceptional Grand Cru villages.

See website to order

Wicks Estate Wines – Adelaide Hills

Sparkling wines: Wicks Estate Vintage 2020, and Pamela Vintage Sparkling.

We tend every vine and grow every grape. We then take those precious grapes a short trip to our winery, situated right in the middle of our vineyard. This obsessive care is our family’s guarantee of quality.

See website to order


Bellebonne Wine – Tasmania

Sparkling wines: 2016 Bellebonne Vintage Cuvee and Bellebonne Bis Non-Vintage Rosé

BELLEBONNE [bell-y-bon] *
Beautiful and good, like Tasmania. A belief that good things should be made of beauty and purpose. Driven by the knowledge that Tasmania creates sparkling wines of detail and precision. That shares something honest, elemental and full of wonder about Tasmania. Wine of purity that speaks of the landscape and seasons that have shaped it.

See website to order


Best’s Wines – Great Western and Grampians Wine Region

Sparkling wines: 2016 C.M.T Méthode Traditionnelle and 2017 Sparkling Shiraz

Best’s Wines Great Western is one of Australia’s ‘best kept’ winery secrets.  Founded in 1866, we are a family-owned and operated winery (5th generation) with some of the oldest and rarest vines in the world.  Henry Best’s original Nursery Block, containing more than 40 different varieties and featuring his old Shiraz and Pinot Meunier plantings, are among Australia’s most valuable vineyard resources. The Thomson family are celebrating their 100th year as custodians this of Best’s Wines, purchased from Henry Best’s son in 1920. 

There is something very special about the wines from Great Western.  The pedigree of our historic vineyards allows us to make elegant, finely structured wines with great intensity and balance.  Best’s avoids the heavy-handed use of oak or winery interventions; instead, the winemaking team allows the fruit from Great Western to tell its own story.  Like many classic long-lived wines, their best attributes are revealed over time.

See website to order


Voirin-Jumel Wines – Cramant, Champagne, France

Champagne:  Voirin-Jumel Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs Brut; Blanc de Noirs 1er cru; 2012 Blanc de Blancs; Rose 1er Cru

The domain is located in Cramant, prestigious village Grand Cru of the côte des Blancs. Voirin – Jumel has been a family farm for 5 generations. Taking care of creating Champagnes worthy of the legendary Grand Cru terroirs.  The family vineyard covers 13 hectares, harvested and pressed by us. Our vineyard approach is natural.

“It is not enough to have a Grand Terroir, you have to respect it”

See website to order


Lost Farm – Northern Tasmania

Sparklings: Lost Farm Vintage 2015 Cuvée Sparkling; Lost Farm NV Brut Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Lost Farm Wines is about discovery and potential. Working with the talented growers and the exceptional vineyard sites, aiming to realise the potential in the wines we make from them. Made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from the cold climate of Northern Tasmania our sparkling wines are complex, elegant wines that shows brioche, nougat and yeasty notes on the nose. A fine persistent bead seamlessly carries these flavours across the palate with brilliant texture and a classic refined finish.

Special offer and promo code: enter code FREEFARM on checkout for free shipping

See website to order 


Champagne Jacquart – Reims, France

Champagnes: Jacquart Mosaique Brut, Jacquart Mosaique Extra Brut, Jacquart Mosaique Rose, Jacquart Blanc de Blancs, Jacquart Cuvee Alpha, Jacquart Cuvee Alpha Rose.

Champagne Jacquart was founded in 1964 by Chardonnay growers and today is one of the largest grower-producers in Reims, France meaning they have 100% vineyard ownership & produce all their own Champagne. They are part of the Alliance Champagne Group & one of Champagne’s largest source of grapes. Jacquart’s vineyards are present in 8 of 17 Grand Cru and 20 of 44 Premier Cru regions. They have an increasing focus on sustainable winegrowing with 20% of acreage certified sustainable in 2017 with the goal to grow this in future years to come. The Champagne Jacquart style is unique and contemporary across the range: fresh, elegant and refined.

Special offer and promo code: 15% off with ‘BUBBLES’

View website to order


Mezzacorona & Rotari – Trentino, Italy

Sparklings: Rotari Brut, Rotari Rose, Mezza di Mezzacorona.

Special offer and promo code: 15% off with ‘BUBBLES’

View website to order


Oakdene – Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong, Victoria

Sparklings: NV Oakdene Pinot Noir Chardonnay, 2015 Oakdene Yvette Pinot Noir Chardonnay, 2016 Oakdene Kristen Blanc de Blanc

Oakdene’s range of Sparkling Wines are all made in a dry style, using the traditional varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The range includes a fruit driven style, limited production Vintage wines made using the traditional method with extended aging. 

Special offer and promo code: 10% discount and free shipping Australia wide on purchase of 6 bottles or more (applies automatically at checkout)

See website to order


Levrier by Jo Irvine – Located in Barossa, making wine from Eden Valley, Barossa and Adelaide Hills

Sparkling: Levrier by Jo Irvine Adelaide Hills Sparkling Meslier Brut Rosé

“I make small batch wine styles that I like to drink. My wines are all soft, juicy and vegan friendly. I support the Greyhound Adoption Program which is why all my labels have greyhounds on them, and I named my brand Levrier, which means ‘greyhound’.”

Special offer and promo code: All wine lovers can order at club rates and $10 from every order is going to Meal on Wheels SA until end of April.

See website to order


Trentham Estate – Trentham Cliffs, NSW

Sparklings: Prosecco NV and Tasmania Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV

 

Our Cellar Door is located at an impressive riverside destination where we share a tradition of quality food, wine and customer service. Trentham is very proud of, and humbled by, the many awards and accolades it has collected over the past 30 years – including hundreds of wine show medals, an impressive array of wine trophies, and business awards. We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to our stunning location on the banks of the Murray in the future.

See website to order


Clover Hill – Pipers River, North East Tasmania

Sparklings: Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvee NV, Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvee Rose NV, Clover Hill Vintage Brut 2013, Clover Hill Cuvee Exceptionnelle Blanc de Blancs 2013, Clover Hill Cuvee Exceptionnelle Vintage Rose 2015 & Clover Hill ‘Late Disgorged’ Cuvee Prestige Blanc de Blancs 2006

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. Clover Hill’s commitment to excellence has been recognised with numerous awards which include being inducted into the Australian Sparkling Hall of Honour in 2017 and being twice awarded Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year.

See website to order


Taltarni Estate – The Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia

Sparklings: Taltarni 2016 Blanc de Blancs, Taltarni 2013 Cuvee Rose, Taltarni 2015 Brut, Taltarni 2017 Sparkling Shiraz & Taltarni T Series Brut

Taltarni Vineyard and Winery was founded on the principles of individuality, independence and expression, which still guide us today. Combining old-world traditions with innovative new-world techniques, Taltarni produces a diverse range of méthode-traditionnelle crafted sparklings. Taltarni’s portfolio continues to be a reflective expression of the varietal and terroir from which our wines are born.

Special offer and promo code: see our wine specials page on our website

See website to order


Oakridge Estate – Yarra Valley, Victoria
Sparklings:
2014 Blanc de Blanc & 2017 Sparkling Meunier

Oakridge is a family-owned, Yarra Valley winery, restaurant and cellar door. Originally established in 1978, alongside a ridge of oak trees. Our many awards are due to the level of distinction and excellence our team strives for in every bottle; reflecting meticulous care from soil to grape and barrel to bottle.  

Special offer and promo code: BUBBLESREV10 for 10% off our online store

See website to order


Rob Dolan Wines – Yarra Valley, Victoria

Sparkling: 2018 Black Label Blanc de Blanc

Our Blanc de Blanc is the perfect way to start off as it is aperitif in style so gets you salivating and ready to taste. It is called blanc de blanc as it is a white wine crafted from a white grape, specifically, Chardonnay that we get from the Yea Valley. The Yea Valley is a relatively cold area, so perfect for sparkling bases as it keeps the acid high, forming zesty and fresh sparkling wines. This one is very easy drinking, perhaps slightly dangerous, that’s what we love about it!

Special offer and promo code: Free shipping Australia wide for a limited time. Enter code: SUPPORTSMALL at checkout.

See website to order


Fratelli Wines –  Yarra Valley, Victoria

Sparkling: NV Better Half Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Andrew and Megan Santarossa’s vineyard is located in the very cool site of the Yarra Junction in the Yarra Valley. They specialise in sparkling and table wines, having learnt their trade from working at Mitchelton and Chandon. A classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay provides a clean fresh style with complexity on the back palate.

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


See Saw Wines – Orange, NSW

Sparkling: 2019 See Saw Prosecco

For over 25 years Justin & Pip Jarret have been making cool climate wines from their three, high altitude, certified organic vineyards. This vintage Prosecco is clean and very well balanced with a silky creamy texture.

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


Smallfry Wines – Barossa Valley, SA

Sparkling: 2019 Smallfry Pet-Nat Rose

Wayne & Suzi like to push the boundaries with experimental blends and obscure varietals from their old vine vineyard in Vine Vale Barossa Valley. Natural ferments, no additions, no fining or filtration. This savoury Pet-Nat is produced from a variety so rare that the winery still doesn’t know what it is, so they call it Vine X!

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint wines website for sales


House of Cards – Margaret River, WA

Sparkling: ‘Queen of Diamonds’ Blanc de blancs

A small family-run Cellar Door in Margaret River. Established in 2011 by Travis and Elizabeth Wray. Producing 100% Organic, Single Vineyard wines.

See website to order

 


Federica Rigoni Stern – Veneto, Italy

Sparkling: NV Rigoni ‘Il Giusto’ Extra Dry Prosecco DOC

Federica inherited the winery from her grandfather Gus, who founded the winery in 1963. A small 12 hectare vineyard entirely planted with Glera for premium Prosecco production. This Prosecco is a dry version with a very refreshing green apple character.

Special offer: Wines are 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


Apollonis Champagne – Marne Valley, Champagne

Champagnes: NV Apollonis Authentic Meunier, NV Apollonis Theodorine Rose, NV Apollonis Palmyre Brut Nature

16th Generation Grower from the town of Festigny in the Marne Valley. A small family Estate who specialise in the production of Pinot Meunier.

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


Cloak and Dagger –  Central and the King and Alpine Valleys in North-East Victoria

Sparkling: Cloak and Dagger – Prosecco

Vibrant aromatics punctuated by crisp apples and pears, zingy citrus and top notes of orange blossom. Delicate flavours of lemons and pears zip across the palate. Crisp and dry, this sparkling is bright and satisfying with a long refreshing finish. It’s perfect on its own or amazing in a spritz!

See website to order


Degen Wines –  Pokolbin, Hunter Valley

Sparkling: Degen 2018 Sparkling Semillon Chardonnay 2018

We are one of the smallest commercial single vineyards in the Hunter Valley. Some 20 years ago we planted three of the great noble grape varieties that have been grown in the Hunter: Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon.  Our small Cellar Door has provided an avenue for us to meet wine lovers from far and near that visit us for tastings of our premium wines we produce, made by award winning winemakers.

Special offer and promo code: Free delivery and 20% discount. Use code: DEG365 at checkout.

See website to order


Printhie Wines – Orange, NSW

Sparklings:  Swift Sparkling – Swift NV Cuvée; Swift Sparkling Rosé; Swift 2012 Vintage Chardonnay Pinot Noir; Swift 2010 Blanc de Blancs; Swift 2016 Blanc de Noirs (to be released 2020)

From the highest vineyards in NSW on the slopes of the extinct volcano Mt Canobolas, an elite range of sparkling has been handcrafted by Printhie Wines. Brothers Ed and Dave Swift have made their mark on the Australian sparkling scene with their method traditionnelle Swift Sparkling. Exceptional winemaking, cool climate craftmanship and the luxury of time has created a trophy winning range of sparkling wine. Printhie’s passion for sparkling is demonstrated by the patience required to ensure each bottle of Swift Sparkling has been aged to perfection before release. Spending at least 5 years on lees with some up to 9 years. The range has won 10 trophies and over 60 medals in the last 4 years alone.

Special offer and promo code: Use ‘FREEDELIVERY’ coupon at checkout for free shipping.

See website to order


Tamburlaine Organic Wines – Hunter Valley, Orange and Central Ranges

Sparkling: On The Grapevine Preservative Free Sparkling ‘Au Naturel’

Tamburlaine was established in 1966. In 1985 the Hunter winery was purchased by a small group of friends and relatives led by Managing Director and Chief Winemaker, Mark Davidson. Mark has built his long-term winemaking philosophy around Contemporary Organic practices in the vineyard and the winery. After challenging years of research and development, we have become one of Australia’s largest producers of organic wines with vineyards in the Hunter Valley and Orange region.

Special offer: $16/bottle when you select 12 wines from this range. Buy two dozen or more to access $14/bottle. Limited time only.

See website to order


De Beaurepaire Wines – Central Ranges Region – Rylstone, NSW

Sparklings: 2016 ‘Marie Louise’ Prestige Cuvée; 2018 ‘Blanchefleur’ Blanc De Blancs;  2019 ‘Annabelle’ Crément De Rose

Founded in 1998 by Richard and Janet de Beaurepaire and now joined by their children Amanda & Will, De Beaurepaire Wines is a terroir focused wine producer from Rylstone, within the Central Ranges (near Mudgee and Orange) of NSW. The family originates from Burgundy, so Richard and Janet chose to pioneer wine production in Rylstone due to its similarity to the terroir of the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy.  Their wines can only be found at their cellar door or in great bars, restaurants and hotels. In 2018 they were awarded by Winestate Magazine, ‘Best Australian Wine’ – a first for a NSW producer since the award inception 40 years ago; and Best Australian and New Zealand Dessert Wine.

Special offer and promo code: 

  • 25% off 12+ bottles & free shipping (code: ATHOME12)
  • 10% off 6 bottles & free shipping (code ATHOME6)

See website to order


Stomp Wines – Hunter Valley

Sparklings: Stomp Sparkling Verdelho; Stomp Sparkling Moscato; Limited Release Stomp 2017 Sparkling Chambourcin 

Stomp! Wines is a family business based in the beautiful Hunter Valley wine region. Husband and wife owned and operated, we stomp to the sound of our own drum. Our two stunning contemporary brands, Stomp! and Pssst ‘n’ Broke, say it all – relaxed, casual, maybe a little irreverent, but always authentic! We remain true to ourselves and our craft as we have fun creating all our wines to capture the true essence of ourselves and our stomping ground.

Special offer and promo code: Buy any 5 or more sparkling and we’ll add a free bottle (of our choice) with free delivery. Use coupon code – Bubbles

See website to order


Hollydene Estate Wines – Upper Hunter Valley

Sparkling: Juul Blanc de Blanc 2008

Located in the picturesque Upper Hunter region, Hollydene Estate is a beautiful destination location, with a stunning Cellar Door and award winning restaurant. 

With two of The Upper Hunter’s oldest and most iconic vineyards. The Juul Blanc de Blanc sparkling is a multi award winner, for Best Mature Sparkling two years running and Best Extended Yeast Age at The Australian Sparkling Wine Show.

Be sure to put Hollydene Estate on your ‘must see’ list when visiting the Hunter Region.

Special offer and promo code: 15% off – 15OFF2020 can be used multiple times. Valid until 30 Sep 2020 (not valid with already discounted sale items) or join wine club for 20% off and free shipping.

See website to order


Borambola Wines – Gundagai, New South Wales

Sparklings: Borambola Wines, VIII Sparkling Brut

Borambola Wines is a family owned business, specialising in 100% locally grown and produced beer and wine including, red, white, sparkling, Tuckerbox Hoppy Lager beer and apple cider. Borambola Wines philosophy is simple – we strive to grow the best grapes and to make the best wines. We do this by combining traditional ‘old world’ wine making methods with the upcoming technology advancements of the ‘new wine world’, as well as using organic and environmental best practice. We welcome visitors to our Cellar Door for tastings, as well as catering for weddings, ceremonies, corporate functions and special events.

Special offer: Buy 6 and receive a free gift

See website to order


Note: The Bubbles Review is not involved in selling wine. This page is for information only. All sales and deliveries are made with the wineries or distributors directly. Subject to their own licencing arrangements. You must be of legal drinking age to purchase. The Bubbles Review promotes responsible serving of alcohol. If you have any questions about purchasing, please contact the wineries directly.

Cheers to your good health!

I’ve been thinking of the origins of ‘Bless you’ recently.  As we are facing a global pandemic, I was reminded about my time as a tour leader in Europe, and the story I used to tell our guests about where the phrase comes from. The phrase ‘God bless you’ is attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, who uttered it in the sixth century during a bubonic plague epidemic. Whenever someone sneezed, which was an obvious symptom of the plague, people would bless them in the hope that they remained in good health. The exchangeable German term ‘gesundheit’ literally means ‘health’. It is interesting that this term has endured all of this time, and is so very relevant for us all today.

The drinking party, in one form or another, has been around for thousands of years, and I wanted to explore the origins of how we use the occasion of getting together to drink bubbles, with toasting to the good health of our companions.

Historians guess that the toast most likely originated with the Greek libation, the custom of pouring out a portion of one’s drink in honour of the Gods. And yes, there were even gods of wine! The Greek God, Dionysus or Dionysos, known as Bacchus to the Romans, is the God of the vine, grape-harvest, wine-making, wine, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre.

From there, it was an easy step to offering a drink in honour of one’s companions.

Early medieval Anglo-Saxon feasts featured round-bottomed drinking glasses, designed to be emptied, since they could not be set down without spilling them. Guests drained their cups and then turned them upside-down on the table. This is most likely where the tradition of ‘bottoms up!’ comes from. Around the same time, the Saxon word ‘waes hael!’ (‘Good health!’), has been noted in history books.

The term ‘toast’ – as in drinking to someone’s health – comes from a literal piece of spiced or charred toast, which was dropped in a cup or bowl of wine, either as form of food or perhaps to make the wine taste better. Shakespeare mentions this in The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which Falstaff calls for a quart of spiced wine, then adds “Put a toast in it.” By the 18th century, the term ‘toast’ had been transferred from the floating bread, to the person honoured by the toast, and those who were very popular became known as the ‘toast of the town.’

It seems that the ‘bottoms up’ tradition of toasting was a common practice in many countries, but it was not one that everyone appreciated. The first temperance society, the Order of Temperance, established in Germany in 1517, was dedicated to abolishing toasts. Louis XIV banned toasting at his court, and in 1634, Massachusetts banned the ‘abominable’ custom of drinking to another’s health.

Eventually, in polite society, one no longer had to guzzle an entire wine glass for each proposed toast; a sip was considered plenty.

There are a few theories about the clinking of the glasses. One of these is to engage all the senses by adding the sound of clinking glassware. Some say it was to ward off evil spirits, while raising the glass may relate back to the raising of wine to the gods.

When I worked in Switzerland, we would take our guests for a fondue dinner and I would introduce the local custom of saying ‘cheers’ whilst looking your companions in the eye. If you did not make eye contact, you were considered untrustworthy. This custom is not unique to the Swiss, as there is also the tradition of drinking before or after battle and celebrating with friends and foes, and the need for eye contact to prove your trustworthiness.

In English we say ‘cheers!’, and often toast to people’s good health. The word ‘cheers’ comes from the Anglo-French of medieval times, ‘cheres’ meaning ‘face’, or the Old French ‘chiere’ for ‘expression’. It evolved to signify the mood shown on one’s face when happy. By the 1800s, saying ‘cheers’ came to represent gladness, or to show support or encouragement.

We shared information on our social media recently about how drinking champagne may help boost your immune system. In moderation of course, and not to be taken as medical advice!

So here’s cheers to your bubbly good health!

Here’s what they say to ‘toast’ to good health in other countries:

French – Santé (pronounced Son tay) or votre santé – good health or to your good health

Italian – Salute (prounounced Salut ay) – cheers, bless you, to good health

Spanish – Salud – (pronounced Salude) – cheers, bless you, to good health

German – Prost (from the latin prodesse – to be beneficial) or gesundheit – good health

Afrikaans – Gesondheid – good health

Scottish, Irish Gaelic – Sláinte (pronounced slawn-cha) – ‘to your health’ and is from the root ‘slán’ defined as ‘healthy’

Danish, Swedish and Norwegian – Skål – (pronounced Skoal) – ‘to your health’ or ‘bottoms up’

Finnish – Kippis – comes from an expression – to tilt glasses

Chinese – gānbēi! – literally means dry cup – ‘bottoms up’

How do you say cheers?

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.

Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

How to choose the right glassware for your bubbles?

Champagne and sparkling wine is synonymous with celebration, and what better time to be celebrating than with friends and family over Christmas?

Champagne is often served as an aperitif or for a toast. As you may have read here before, it can definitely be served throughout all courses. Perfect for an Aussie Christmas, champagne pairs especially well with seafood, and choose a traditional blend including red fruit, or a Blanc de Noirs, or Rosé with the more robust main course flavours of ham and turkey. Those of you who love a sparkling red may choose to include this in your line-up.

Now that we have the wine sorted, which glass should we use to serve? 

There is the champagne coupe or saucer glass. Legend has it the shape of the coupe was modelled on the left breast of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France, but it seems that the glass was designed in England over a century earlier especially for sparkling wine and champagne in 1663. The coupe was fashionable in France from its introduction in the 1700s until the 1970s, and in the US, and Australia from the 1930s to the 1980s. The coupe had a revisit a few years ago, with a bit of Art Deco, Great Gatsby-inspired frivolity. Perfect to build a champagne tower, they are lots of fun, but not very practical. Apart from making it easy to spill, the glass is very wide creating a large surface area for the wine, with an open rim, which means that the bubbles dissipate very quickly.

Then there is the champagne flute. The skinny flute, designed to accentuate the view of the bubbles as they rise up in the glass, has definitely dominated the glassware served for the past 30 years or so. These glasses make it lot easier to serve, you can fit many more on a tray than the coupe, and you are less likely to spill your drink. But, you may be surprised to discover, this is not the best glass to be using.

If you visit the Champagne region, you will find that many restaurants will serve champagne in a white wine glass. This may seem strange at first, but a good exercise to try at home is; pour half of your glass of bubbles into a skinny flute, and half into a white wine glass. Taste a few sips from the skinny flute, then try it from the wine glass. Take time to explore the aromas and taste. Most likely, it will taste like a different wine. This is because to truly appreciate a good wine, you need to take in all of the senses: the look, the aroma, the feel and taste.

The skinny flute presents champagne as one-dimensional, because you can’t get your nose into the glass to get the full wine experience. It also concentrates the bubbles and in trying to get the aromas you’ll often get a nose full of fizz and acidity instead.

This presented a challenge, as part of the fun of having bubbles is the special glass. Onto the scene comes a wider tulip or egg-shaped flute; a sort of hybrid of flute and standard white wine glass with a wider middle that tapers at the top. This allows for a wine lover’s ability to appreciate the full range of aromas. This is still a beautiful stylish glass, but let’s you take in the full appreciation of the wine.

I’ve read that the tulip style has origins from the Sommelier at Les Crayères restaurant in Reims, who didn’t like serving top champagnes in a flute. He is said to have worked with glass makers Lehmann glass to develop an elongated glass, rounded in the middle and tapering towards the top wider flute.

This as a superior shape has been confirmed by science, with Gérard Liger-Belair, a physicist at the University of Reims, stating that ‘the spherical shape of the glass, which also encourages vertical movement, respects the role of the mousse’. 

The RIEDEL brand known for innovation and design, and an industry leader in the introduction of grape-varietal-specific stemware in the 1980s, has also collaborated with some of the top champagne houses to create bespoke glasses tailored to their specific wines.

Each bubble carries aroma to the surface. The RIEDEL glasses are designed to provide a ‘progressive extension along the curve of the glass which favours first a gradual then a stretched ascent, allowing each bubble to burst at the widest point to free its flavours and express aromatic subtlety’.

A champagne glass should be clear, not coloured or engraved with fancy design, so we can assess the wine’s clarity, colour and bubbles.

I’ve also noticed a recent trend of stemless glassware. Whilst this might be a nice casual style for other wines, it is a no for bubbles. We hold the glass by the stem, so that the heat from our hands doesn’t warm the wine, and greasy fingerprints don’t obscure the wine’s colour. Perhaps I need therapy, but I must admit I have to look away when I see friends holding their glass by the bowl and not the stem, as I can’t bear to watch. Note to my family coming over for Christmas!

When I present tips on how to taste bubbles at our events, I always remind people to hold their glass by the stem, and also that there is no need to swirl the glass (to get air and aroma). When tasting bubbles, the bubbles will bring out the aromas out for you.

Some wine writers are asking ‘Should champagne flutes be outlawed?’ I think this might be a bit extreme, but I do agree, my preference for good quality bubbles is to serve them in a wider flute or white wine glass.

Most important though, is the joy of sharing bubbles with friends and family. Find the best glass you can, raise it and say cheers!

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.

You may also like these blogs:

We are very excited to have RIEDEL glassware as our giveaway partner this December, and our glassware provider for The Bubbles Festival. 

Our subscriber giveaway which is the Extreme Rosé / Champagne glass twin pack (RRP$59.95) will be drawn on 13 December 2019.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is RIEDEL-Extreme-glass-giveway-FB.jpg

The Extreme Rosé/Champagne Glass is perfect for developing and displaying champagne’s complex characteristics. This glass allows the wide range of aromatics to unfold thanks to its egg-shaped design, with the larger rim diameter enabling them to be released in a way which is not achieved with a narrow glass.

Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

Why is champagne so expensive?

Or is it? It definitely feels luxurious as you are sipping it.

Let’s compare, a 2015 bottle of Grange is currently selling for around $900. It is not ready to drink yet, Penfolds suggest the recommended cellaring is 2022 – 2050.

For champagne, a bottle of 2008 (a very good year in Champagne) Dom Perignon is currently around $250, Cristal 2009 (also a good year) $390, Moët et Chandon 2009 is on sale for $90. To buy the equivalents from Burgundy or Bordeaux you would need to pay about 20 times this. For an Australian comparison, the 2008 Arras Grand Vintage, this highly awarded Tasmanian sparkling has won multiple awards including Gold at the Champagne and Sparkling World Championships, has a recommended retail price of $84. It has been aged for more than 7 years before release and it is ready to drink now.

In champagne and sparkling descriptions, you’ll see, aged on lees for a certain amount of years or how many years of tirage.  This is describing how many years the wine has been in the second fermentation stage (which also creates the bubbles), stored in bottles in the winemaker’s cellar. 

In Champagne a Non-Vintage must be aged for a minimum of 15 months and a Vintage must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, although many houses will age their wines much longer than this at around 3 years for NV and 5-10 years for a Vintage champagne.

That is a huge amount of capital sitting in the cellar, waiting for a return on investment.  Forget bank vaults of gold, the underground cellars of Epernay and Reims are holding millions of dollars of liquid gold. Champagne currently has around 1.5 billion bottles stockpiled, which will remain in waiting for an average of more than 4.5 years. It is an investment in quality and delivery of a ready to drink product. Aside from fortified wines, champagne is the only prestige wine that is sold already matured to its prime, so there is no need to cellar it (although you might decide to with a good vintage), it is ready to drink straight away.

Champagne production is labour intensive. According to the rules governing production, all grapes must be picked by hand and there is a limit on the amount of yield per harvest. This contributes to Champagne being the highest grape price in the world, with prices increasing around 60% over the last 15 years. By comparison the price of champagne has risen less than 15% in a decade, and with greater choice and volume coming to the Australian market there are some absolute bargains to be found.

To create champagne the production process is complex, and more time-consuming than any other in the wine world. A sparkling wine made in the traditional method is similar, yes there are cheaper methods for creating bubbles, either second fermentation in tanks, or by just adding Co2 to make bubbles in a very cheap wine.  But, if we are comparing apples with apples, or should I say grapes with grapes, compared to other wine styles, champagne and traditional method (methode traditionelle) sparklings are the best value wines around.

When you add in the skills and passion of the wine making team, I like to think about drinking champagne as similar to admiring a wonderful piece of art. 

Surely it is the closest thing on earth to liquid gold, at a fraction of the price! Remember this next time you are sipping bubbles.

Cheers!

Like to join us in Champagne to tour the cellars in Epernay and Reims? See our Events and Tours page.

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.

You may also like these blogs:

Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

Big, bold and bubbly!

Do you love Sparkling Red wine?

As we discovered in my recent blog on rosé, there is no such thing as a red champagne (a rosé but not a red), but there are sparkling reds from other parts of the world made with all kinds of red grape varieties.

Sparkling red wines begin their life in the same way as still reds, fermented on skins to extract colour, flavour and tannin. The finest are then privileged to méthode traditionnelle, although transfer, charmat or carbonation methods for cheaper wines can also be used.

In Australia, a Sparkling Shiraz is loved by many. I recently confessed to my fellow bubbly enthusiasts that I do love a sparkling rosé, but I am not a lover of sparkling reds.  I realise that is un-Australian, and wondered if there were others that shared my view?  So, I put it out there and sent a survey to our list, and oh my, what a flurry of passionate responses!

Although there are no precise records, it seems that the tradition of Aussie sparkling reds can be attributed to Charles Pierlot a winemaker from Champagne who was employed at Hans Irvine’s Great Western cellars. He experimented with making some of Australia’s first ‘sparkling burgundy’ wines in 1893. More than 125 years later, this legacy continues with Seppelt and other Aussie producers now known as makers of some of the world’s finest bubbly reds.

I do love the change of seasons, the cooler nights, which go so well with hearty food, casseroles and rich flavoured meals. As we are in the cooler months here in Australia, perhaps a long weekend lunch (or brekkie as one of our readers suggested!) or an evening meal, with a sparkling rosé or red might be the perfect bubbly match for your Autumn and Winter dining.

Here are the results to our bubbly red questions:

We asked ~ What do you like, love or dislike about sparkling reds?

Here are your comments:

Tracey A great full-bodied alternative to
sparkling whites.
Lynn Cannot drink still or sparkling red wines … bad reaction
Rhonda I like sparkling reds more with
heavier foods, so more in the
colder months, however I did have a
couple of nice cold refreshing red
bubbles over summer. It’s nice
to be able to have a choice and
some variety.
Kaye Harris Love the earthiness of Grampians
Estate sparkling red from their
Great Western block victoria
Mandy P. Some of the sparkling reds can be a bit
heavy.
Barbara Kahi I think it is an acquired taste.  Not great availability where I live. Need to find a
friend to share a bottle.  
My wine drinking friend lives in
NZ and I live on the Gold Coast.  
Maybe share with my brother in
law who likes to chill his red wines.
Cassie Maywald I don’t like red wine and relate
similar taste to this I think. I also
don’t want to risk buying a
sparkling red only to be
disappointed and
wished I stuck to my champagne.
  I like sparkling reds as they feel more
celebratory than a still wine.  Rose
is my favourite at present
Karen Nicol I adore red wine, but what could be
better than red wine with bubbles!
Sandy Love the fresh bubbly berry tastes
Robyn Naughton They have just a different texture and
flavour
Donna Maloney Love the taste, goes well with food from chilli chocolate to duck to
dumplings. It looks festive and
bubbles are always wonderful.
Louise Love Sparkling Merlot & Shiraz.  I
believe they are like a truth serum!
  Either summer or winter I
absolutely love a chilled sparkling
red.  So full of flavour
Carol I like them as a yummy alternative
to
sparkling white. There are some
lovely Victorian ones from up
Rutherglen way.   They also go well with cheese at the end of a meal. 
Michelle 🙂 They do not have the same
crispness and are not as refreshing
  I enjoy sparkling white wine
personally and sparkling red is
something I can only drink in small
amounts, not as enjoyable.
Susanne Meier I love the marriage of red and
bubbles. The bubbles totally
change the nature of reds. Versatile food pairings in cooler temps.
  The bubbles, and the sensation of

drinking sparkling red
Jan Martin I like red wine and love bubbles! A great combo and a Christmas
tradition!
Marg Drinks well while eating cheese
and sometimes l prefer a sparkling red
instead of a heavy red.
  You still have bubbles but with a
heavier meal.
I leave in North East Vic and we
have a few great reds that are
great sparkling wines
Megan I don’t drink red wine, so If I try a
sparkling red, I just find it too
heavy.
Nicole Olbourne The flavour profile is just all
wrong when it’s a sparkling.
Maybe it’s the tannins but it’s just
yuck!!
Kate The delight the bubbles add to the red
experience.
Sue Hobbs Too fruity. It’s like fizzy cordial
Heather They are very different I wouldn’t drink a still red if you paid me
Lyn D Not really a lover of reds sparkly or still
Beverley Monley I don’t like as I just think a full
bodied Red with bubbles just isn’t
right & I just don’t like the taste.
Mel I don’t like cheap sparkling reds as they are sweet and horrible, but
good quality wines have richness,
good dark fruits and savoury notes and
complementary sweetness. I
love them mainly in the warmer
weather, especially at Christmas,
but happy to have in cooler
weather as an aperitif too.
Shauna I love a true Lambrusco that has a slight sparkle to it. 
Particularly in winter.
Zoe I mainly drink Shiraz so a sparkling red is a bit of fun.
Mel Butler They tend to be too heavy and
sweet. I like my sparkling wine dry and
light, crisp and favoured in
warmer weather.
Lee Any sparkly wine that’s not too
sweet is great.
  The benefits of drinking a lovely
full bodied red with the all
important bubbles.
Michelle I don’t mind the occasional one but

some are too sweet and I prefer
still red.
Meryl Not fond of red. Will drink it if I
have to, but not
my preferred tipple.
Sofie I just don’t drink red wines and
the bubbles do nothing to
change my mind or enhance
the flavour.
Dr Annetta Mallon Often they are too bold, heavy, or
just ‘too much’. I generally prefer
sparkling white and rose.
Carol Embleton It doesn’t have the same fresh taste as
my usual bubbles. I only like still
full bodies red wines. There is just something that doesn’t blend with my taste
buds about sparkling red.
Karen I have just never been a lover of
red wine
Sherryn Absolutely love the depth of
flavour in a decent sparkling red
Jane Symes Love red wine sparkling or not,
turning to the dark side after years of
white wine, red just better.
Leanne Bruce There are some great sparkling
reds and it is a drink I enjoy in
winter as I love my bubbles 🙂
  I find them too heavy to drink
  I can’t really comment as I have
only had limited tries.
Tanina I love red wine, however I’ve
never found one Sparkling
red I’ve ever liked, it’s
something about the taste, it
just doesn’t taste like a red, they
also can be tricky to open
and fly out the bottle
when opening, be careful
you don’t get covered
in it!
Georgia A really good sparkling red is an
experience you rarely have when
drinking anything ‘bubbly’. It has a zest and vibrancy that is exciting
and really let’s you appreciate the
red variety it has come from.
Loretta Wellman I get drunk very quickly with
sparkling red yet I can drink a
bottle or two of champagne and
I’m just HAPPY!!!!!
Chanel I am not a fan of sparkling reds, I
think the whole attraction to a red
is the temperature and thick
feeling and the sparkling seems
to take that away. Having said this, I am open to the idea of a
sparkling red and will keep
taste testing them at wineries as
you never know I
might change my mind.
Anne Mac Prefer still reds
Ann I love the rich red colour and
jammy berry taste. Even chilled it’s a
winter warmer for me
Wendy McCullough They are good when you only want to
have just one glass of bubbles.
For instance, tonight my partner
wants to celebrate a small win. I
don’t want to drink a full bottle (which I will do if I open white or
rose sparkling) so a sparkling red
will ensure I just have one, ok, two. I
don’t drink the flat reds or whites.
  Feels too heavy.
Debs They seem to affect me a lot
quicker – heavier to drink!
Pauline Lang I don’t have them often but as long as it
is not sweet ok.
Katherine Bit too big for my liking. It’s a bit
like drinking a bubbly shiraz.
Denis Zaruba I’m French and for me the only
reason why Australians created
sparkling reds is to have it on very hot
days (30 + degrees) and it’s not at
all as fine as champagne is. It’s
overpowering!!
Nicole I think they are too heavy
  Not quite as bubbly as champagne but
brings out special flavour of the
red….still prefer still red though.
Carmela Dimattia Cannot be sweet so I like my reds
a little drier
  Too strong
Carolena Boyd I really like the boldness of a good red – combined with the bubbles.
  Prefer sparkling white or rose,
rarely drink any red wine at all.
Anna Buddee Just love the rich heady aroma of
the bubbly sparkling reds!
Pam I enjoy drinking sparkling red on a hot
day, usually with a cheese
board, for something different.
Sharon Some are amazing and others too heavy. I’ll try any wine once but
sparkling reds make me a bit picky
Wendy A little more full bodied than
normal sparkles.
Michael Potter I’ve never found one yet that I can drink. The flavour isn’t my cup of
tea… or glass of wine.
Isa I just prefer a flat red or a white
sparkling. I don’t like the taste of a
sparkling red
Megan Deves I love a little more full flavour
sometimes when I’m craving a
sparkling
Vicki W Not a red wine drinker whether
still or bubbly…I dont mind rose
but anything heavier is not my
style.
Cheryl Some time you need a red and I
don’t do plain reds but with a steak or a bbq a sparkling red goes down well.
  I don’t love red wine as much as I
love white wine. And sparkling red is
just so foreign and unappealing
to me
  I don’t mind a light red sparkling but if
it’s too heavy I don’t like it at all.
Anitra I used to enjoy them 15-20 years
ago but don’t any more. I think my
palate is more discerning these
days.
  I enjoy sparkling wines and also
red wine so being red & sparkling
is a nice change
Lynda Doncaster Better than champagne or a glass
of red as combines both!!
Karla They’re great. So much depth of
flavour for when you have a hot
meal and/or cold weather.
Ainsley The rich colour, all the big
red-wine flavours combined with
the mousse mouthfeel of bubbles –
it’s a winner for me. I prefer a
sparkling red to a still as the
bubbles seem to lighten the wine a bit?
Karen Brus Love it in winter, a different take on a
still red. My hubby loves
sharing a bottle with me.
Lucy They taste wrong. You lose the
depth of a good, still red wine and
the sparklings don’t have the
vivacity of a good sparkling white.
Cheryl Bisi Reds just aren’t meant to be
sparkling! Reds are a ‘heavier’
type of wine that does not suit the
light nature of a sparkling wine
in my view.
Suzanne Adair Red is red and bubbles are white
and pink
Chris Bubbles
Jane Ross As long as they’re not too sweet. 
Sparkling red is the bomb! Love it
Wendy Hills We only drink them in winter as
a refreshing drink, not a serious
wine if that makes sense.
Lisa Cicchine I love the intensity of Sparkling
reds
Mark It just tastes wrong – a fad that
needs to die!
Chris Well it is sparkling, so I have to
love it. Not a big red wine
drinker, prefer bubbles, so this
is a fabulous way to get all those
red wine “health benefits ” !
Fiona McL I have a local favourite that I just
find easy & comforting to drink
  Sparkling reds are too heavy
for me
Pene Kats I quite like Lambrusco.
It’s an Italian wine that is slightly
sparkling and has a pleasing, deep,
fruity flavour.

Make sure you invest in a decent
label though, this wine is not good when it’s cheap. Brown Brothers
do a nice one for between $10.00
to $20.00 (I cant remember
exactly!).
Make sure you drink this cold!
Simon Deep rich sparkling wine with a
flavour which complements many
foods
Dot Taste is bitter
  Love red wine and it is a tasty
red with bubbles !!!!
Caz Karski I have never been a fan of red
wine, so it just seems logical that
even putting bubbles into it,
I wouldn’t like it.
Lis It’s diversity and pairs well with
food. Great on a hot day.
Jules Grew up having ‘cold duck’ with
Sunday lunch! Love sparkling red
to this day
  I like the heaviness of the red wine in
winter but still with a sparkle!
  Dislike the nose
Alison The depth of flavour combined
with the joy of bubbles.
Maree I think a red should be smooth rich ripe full bodied but not bubbly.
Maz Glover If it’s a sweeter red I am sure I will drink it
Melinda The taste is just not correct to me
Doreen Swann I just don’t like reds of any kind
but my husband loves reds
Kerrie Hodgson I really love bubbles full stop, so if
I start on champagne or bubbles,
I can easily follow up with a
sparkling red rather than a still
white or red. After the first couple of
sips its just as delicious as
bubbles.
Sharon I like my bubbly to have a light
flavour and red tends to be very
full bodied
Maria Moreira I love the tingling, bubbling, fresh,
effervescent sensation on your
taste buds and the chilling vibe
you get from swishing sparkling
reds in your mouth.  They tend
to go with many varieties of food!
Kristan Lum I think the bubbles help with
sparkling reds, adds a different
texture in flavour and exciting
  Hate the smell of red wine
Kym Durbano Don’t like the taste
Kerry Sometimes I just like the feeling of
something sparkling. It is
refreshing. You don’t want a big,
bold red just something light.
Nedda I just like bubbles can drink
anything including reds
Lynn I do not like red wine sparkling or still
and they do not like me!
Anne It just does not seem the way to do a
sparkling
Jackie K Most taste lighter, a great
alternative to a heavier red.
Kate It just doesn’t feel like the right
combination. I don’t enjoy the red
flavours when it is fizzy and cold. I miss the crisp freshness of a white. The
furthest I will go is a sparkling Rose for
the added fruitiness.
Leave reds alone.
Brenton  Jolly Just something different and
unusual and something delicious
any time of the year.
Robbie Poulton As a Champagne traditionalist I
don’t enjoy sparkling reds…too
heavy! However I do enjoy a
cheeky sparkling Rose. It’s all
about the texture for me.
Louise Lupton I find all red wine too heavy even with
bubbles
Heidi I think they are ok, although maybe a bit weird.
  They taste good and are an
alternative to white bubbles
Ally They can be hit and miss,
sometimes too sweet.  You want
some sweetness, but lovely plum
flavours, great with cheese or
dessert
Elaine I haven’t found one I like the taste of
Sharyn Campbell Can’t really pin point why but I do love
red wine and drinking it with
bubbles (and cold) is just not for me. 
I probably like sparkling
white as I don’t drink white wine
much and sparkling white is just
so good for any occasion.
Jodi I love red wine, I love bubbles, so
a sparkling red is a favourite of
mine, refreshing and
flavoursome 🙂
Sue. S Sparkling reds make a nice fruity change from white bubbles
Ann Blannin-Ferguson At non-summery days a sparkling shiraz with some yummy cheeses is perfect
Lennie Lister Unique, food friendly, suits
climate/BBQs/outdoor dining
Dan B Took a fine young lady on the
vintage Daimler Benz tour of the
Barossa in 2003 and a work
colleague suggested going to
Charles Melton and he hand makes a
sparkling red every few years
method traditional. Tasted one
then, it was great bought some,
he said you can put it away for
20yrs and drink on a special
occasion, cracked one at my
father’s 70th 2 yrs ago. Still great.
Audrey Wilkinson makes one also
in Hunter.
Rachel You can drink reds in the middle of summer! And drink bubbles in the middle of winter.

I don’t like the overly sweet ones.
  I don’t like red wine
  A tad too big for my liking..
perhaps dangerous is the word!
Nadine Lambert I’m a South Australian. We love
our reds, the bigger, the bolder,
the better. But it’s also bloody hot
in summer. Arguably too hot to
drink our big reds (even chilled),
so a big bold dry sparkling red is
the perfect compromise. (just don’t give us any of that sweet red sh#t). Love
from your South Australian
readers
Jodie I’ll be honest, I’m undecided about
the taste.
Lisa Scheepers At first I was dubious about
sparkling reds as I love my red at
room temperature. After trying a
sparkling shiraz one day I’ve been
hooked ever since.  I love the
full body of shiraz mixed with
the light bubbles.
Tiffany Hansen Dislike – taste is awful on all reds
Julie Not a big fan, I just prefer
Sparkling whites or Rose. Not as
heavy in flavour.
Cecilia I love sparkling Shiraz. You get the full
body flavour but a sparkling
version of a still red.
  Chilled sparkling red is much
lighter and refreshing
Anthony A good chilled red on a hot day can be
lovely. Especially Stanton & Killeen’s
sparkling red in Rutherglen.
Sarah Mack Perfect blend of winter and
summer. Sparkling reds in
summer chilled and add a
lightless in winter.
  I only like them if they are a light red.
Helen Don’t seem to have the same taste/effect as white sparkling and gives me a
headache.
Oli So warming in winter
Mark Phelps Fantastic drink, I love a good red
and to add bubbles is a unique way to
enjoy them.  Great with a cooked
brekky as well as by the fireside.
  I’m not a red drinker, so I think
that preference transfers in to the
sparkling reds.
  Sometimes they can be very
refreshing.
Kelly (Gadgetgirl) It is somehow just wrong.  I like full
bodied reds, especially in winter. 
Bubbles to me, are cold and refreshing
and best drunk all year round.
Elaine Mitchell It’s something different and a light hearted way to enjoy reds in Summer as I am not a fan of “chilling”
reds.  It’s also a good way to get non red drinkers eased into reds.

Thank you to everyone who shared their comments. I really loved reading them all. I always say, there is no right or wrong when it comes to tasting wine. If you like it, that is all that matters.

I did notice in our subscriber comments that some mentioned sparkling reds were “dangerous” and a “truth serum”.  A reminder that red wine usually has a higher alcohol content than white wine, and this is especially so with bubbles, a champagne at 12.5% and a prosecco is usually around 11%, compared to sparkling reds at around 13-15%. Remember to pace yourself and enjoy responsibly!

You may also like these other blogs:

Do you know the way to make rose

Make every meal sparkle

Why that is not a glass of champagne that you are drinking

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.

Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

Do you know the way to make rosé?

Who doesn’t love a pink bubbly?! Let’s not mistake it for a sweet drink (sparkling Moscato), a sparkling or champagne rosé has a rich flavour profile with a crisp dry finish that is a perfect to drink as a food match at this time of year, or anytime really!

Australia makes the top 10 in the world for champagne imports, although we are the second lowest for imports of rosé champagne, but this trend is changing, 2018 saw the highest imports in a decade.

For every 28 bottles of champagne popped in Australia, one of them is pink. Across all markets, it’s one in ten, and the USA set a new record last year of more than one in six.  

Possibly a case of supply vs demand, as there is less choice when looking for a rosé champagne. But this is definitely shifting, I’ve noticed more and more options and there are also some great Aussie sparkling rosés available. I am happy to do my bit for increasing demand!

The method to create the bubbles in a sparkling rosé is the same as white sparkling, but how the colour is achieved may differ between blending (assemblage) and saignée. 

Rosé d’assemblage is a blending method, the most common way of making rosé, in which a tiny quantity (around 15%) of Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier made as table wine is added to the white base wine.

The Veuve Clicquot was the first to use this method. Breaking away from the tradition of adding an elderberry-based preparation to create rosé champagne. Madame Clicquot created the first “rosé d’assemblage” by blending some of her red wines from vineyards in Bouzy with her champagne to create the very first blend of rosé champagne.

To make champagne, only certain grapes can be used, there are seven grapes on the list, however there are three that are most commonly used, which are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Only one of the three, is actually a white grape.

(See the full list of champagne grapes here:  FAQ)

As described in our blog: Come quickly I am drinking the stars.

It is the skin that creates the red colour of a red wine, to create a white sparkling wine from red grapes, this is done by gentle pressing with very limited skin contact. In different champagne styles you will find a 100% Pinot Noir, which is known in Champagne as a Blanc de Noirs meaning white from black.  So, although it is 100% Pinot Noir it will still be a white champagne, as it is not pressed on skins.

But, using the second method of creating a Sparkling rosé, the saignée method, the pink of a rosé can be achieved by using the skins. Saignée literally means bleeding in French and with this technique the rosé is made by ‘bleeding’ off juice from just-crushed pinot noir or meunier grapes after a short maceration (soaking) on skins prior to fermentation.

This minimal maceration allows the must (still wine) to develop stronger aromas and flavour profiles while deepening the colour.  

In sparklings from other parts of the world you might find a sparkling Pinot Noir or other grape varieties to create a sparkling red wine. But you will never find a sparkling red in Champagne, as it is against the rules to make a sparkling red in Champagne.  A pink as a rosé is okay, and there is a still red wine, the Coteaux Champenois which is allowed, but never a red champagne.

In Australia, a Sparkling Shiraz is loved by many. Sparkling red wines begin their life in the same way as still reds, fermented on skins to extract colour, flavour and tannin. The finest are then privileged to méthode traditionnelle, although transfer, charmat or carbonation methods can also be used.

Our giveaways over the past few months have featured some lovely sparkling rosés and champagne, keep an eye out, we may even have some sparkling red in the pipeline! A sparkling rosé with dumplings is a heavenly match.  I love the change of seasons, the cooler nights, which go so well with hearty food, casseroles and rich flavoured meals. Perhaps a long weekend lunch or evening meal, with a sparkling rosé or red might be the perfect bubbly match for your Autumn and Winter dining.

You may also like these blogs that talk about champagne techniques and tasting:

Why that is not a glass of Champagne that you are drinking!

Minerality in Champagne

Is champagne better than sex?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Natalie-champagne-jacket-and-flute-1024x682.png

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.

Still have questions or would like to discuss?

Feel free to call Natalie Pickett on 0412 568 215 or Meeko Tien on 0419 289 689 or email info@thebubblesreview.com

What is a Pét-Nat?

It seems like Pét-Nats are popping up everywhere at the moment. One might assume that they are a new wine style, or just another hipster trend. Well, they are definitely ‘on trend’, but you may be surprised to discover that Pét-Nats are actually the oldest sparkling wine!  With records showing them pre. 1500s long before the sparkling wines of England (1662) and then Champagne in 1668.

So, what is a Pét-Nat?

Pét-Nat is short for pétillant naturel, which is means “naturally sparkling” in French.  It is made in the  “ancestral” method of bottling before the first fermentation has finished, allowing the process to complete in bottle (as opposed to the Champagne method, which commences second fermentation in bottle after the first has completed in tank/barrel).

The more rustic approach to making pét-nat means that there is less interference, so it is on trend as a natural sparkling. It is usually less bubbly and less refined, so I wouldn’t compare it to champagne or other sparkling wines, but be open to try something different.  I have seen some people liken it to drinking beer (although it is still made with grapes), I can see the comparison, as it refreshing in that way and this winemaking process results in a less alcoholic wine.  This relaxed, casual wine is perfect for an Autumn picnic matched with a Charcuterie plate, or try it with something sweet!

Our giveaway this month is from Chateau La Colombiere which is in Fronton, 30 mins north of Toulouse, where husband and wife team Diane and Philippe Cauvin are painstakingly nursing back from extinction some of France’s rarest vines. The pair are living their dream, crafting wines from the regional ancient variety: Negrette which is native to their area of Fronton. Diane took the reins of the family estate after learning viticulture and completing a tour de force throughout French vineyards including Burgundy. The first and perhaps the most significant change was to step up the effort to preserve these rare vines by farming biodynamically in 2006. As the vines have been cultivated here in the same way since the 15th century, this was a significant change, to say the least. Add to this hand picking and sorting and you get the base to create something delicious.

The feature this month is 2016 Chateau La Colombiere, Sparkling Pet Nat, Negrette.

Tastes like:  Some sediments in suspension, the mousse is rich, bubbles are generous and active for a Pét-Nat even after opening. It is a delicious dry style with yeasty and fresh strawberry as well as fleshy peach notes. This smashable low alcohol sparkling Pet Nat have also some cider vibe with flavour of ripe red apples.

Area: Fronton (South-West France)

Farming: Biodynamic (certified)

Grapes: Negrette (100%)

Occasion: Brunch/ lunch/ dinner wine! A perfect park wine or by the pool.

Food match: Charcuterie, salads or fresh goat cheese.

When to drink: Drink now or before end 2019.

With special thanks to Mosaique Wines who import and distribute this and other artisanal wines from France.  The owner Thomas Gisbert told me:

“I travel extensively throughout the country each year to bring you a collection of wines that reflect the heart and soul of this land- a mosaic of small and beautiful parts that make a bigger picture.

Each wine has been hand-selected for the unique qualities they express, lovingly made by local producers who dedicated their lives to their craft. These producers respect the land they farm above all else, using sustainable, organic or biodynamic techniques to nourish their vines and the ecosystem around them. We have endeavoured to tell their stories in the hope you can envisage yourself sharing a glass with these characters and enjoying the fruits of their labour.”

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.

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our Subscriber prize draws. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!

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

See website for more details

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!

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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. 

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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. 

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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. 

See website for more details

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!

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

See website for more details

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.

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our Subscriber prize draws. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén