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Sparkling Women of Australia

To celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we are so excited to share this series of interviews with the Sparkling Women of Australia!


I have had a love of bubbles for all my adult life. For my 18th birthday I had a champagne luncheon, and not long after that I did the tour of the historic ‘drives’ in the Great Western region in Victoria – arguably the birthplace of Australian sparkling wine. Since then, my love of bubbles and travel has taken me to many sparkling wine regions including Champagne (several times!), and I have had the joy of meeting and interviewing many champagne and sparkling winemakers. I love everything about drinking it, as well as the stories, the romance, the glamour of bubbles, and I particularly love meeting the people.


Around six years ago, I had the idea to turn my love of champagne and sparkling wine into a business and I created The Bubbles Review, which allows me the great joy of sharing stories through our blog and incorporating my 30 years of travel industry experience to run events and tours. Creating a business that means you get paid to drink champagne is awesome, and we have been listed in the top champagne blogs in different countries around the world, which is also pretty amazing!


I think that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared, and it has been an honour to interview these remarkable women working in the Sparkling Wine industry in Australia and share their stories with you.

Natalie Fryar

Natalie Fryar, Proprietor/Winemaker, Bellebonne Wine Company

BELLEBONNE

Our Sparklings: Bellebonne Vintage Rose, Bellebonne Vintage Cuvee, Bellebonne Vintage Blanc de Blancs, Bellebonne ‘bis’ NV Rose

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

I have been fortunate enough to have been making sparkling wines in Australia since 1996. It was when I took a role at Seppelts Great Western winery with the specific goal of learning everything I could about sparkling wine growing and making and I simply fell in love with all things sparkling.

From then I made sparkling wines from most regions across the nation including Tasmania, whose fruit completely seduced me and now I have my own sparkling wine company in Tasmania, Bellebonne.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

I did my high school work experience at Hardys Reynella winery, way way back when I was in year 10, and never looked back, I love the wine industry and have enjoyed every year since. It is a wonderful way to connect with the world, from growers to sommeliers, wine lovers and everyone in between.

For me wine can capture a moment in time and speak directly of a place, and each time you taste that wine it can transport you to then and there. Nothing more so than sparkling wine, its beauty, elegance and longevity, and it natural connection to the celebrations we most treasure in our lives means that it is always my most loved wine style.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

Whilst I can’t remember the first time I sipped bubbles, I distinctly recall the moment that my life changed forever, and I made the decision to dedicate myself to making great sparkling wine. It was in the mid 90’s at Great Western and I had the pleasure of tasting a decades old sparkling from the beautiful underground cellars, or ‘Drives’ with some winemakers of infinitely more knowledge and experience than me. Being able to taste a wine that maintained its freshness, beauty, and sense of place after so so long in bottle and to see its greatness through the eyes of such skilled winemakers sent a jolt through me and that was that!

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

It is different for women in the wine industry, as it is for women in almost every industry, especially those that are traditionally male dominated. Across our society I believe, and hope, that change is happening. I have great faith in the new generations of women and men coming through, they give me hope that old ways of people from all minorities and marginalized groups being excluded and worse from our industry are disappearing. There is much more work to be done, but the rewards are so great. We have a wonderful industry, and most importantly beautiful wines, and to share that equally with ALL people who want be part of the creation and support of that is a beautiful thing.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

I’m inspired by so many people, those that first saw Tasmania as an incredible sparkling wine opportunity who are still making it on their own terms today (Andrew Pirie ), those that have held the torch high around the globe for the great Sparkling wines of Australia (Ed Carr, Tyson Stelzer),  those that dedicate their entire lives to crafting the most beautiful wines imaginable, wonderful friends and winemakers across Champagne. But importantly I’m also inspired by the next generation of winemakers and communicators that see the greatness of what we have here and want to make their own mark on the landscape of sparkling wine.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

All great wine, sparkling wines included of course, is the same in this way; it is a reflection of the winemakers passion and belief about the place, history and climate of their particular patch.

The greatest sparkling wines from around the world have this in common and are therefore entirely individual.

My excitement about an incredible champagne is matched by my excitement about an incredible Tasmanian (or other) wine. The Champenoise do have the advantage of hundreds of years of winemaking practice, honing skills and understanding the unique characters of their vineyards, and the sheer scale of their industry, but I believe that the wines made here truly great also.

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

For me it is all about trying to capture the pristine fruit power and elegance of Tasmanian fruit. In turn hoping to capture something magical about this place. I try to frame my wines around the fruit first, and then build the longevity and complexity around that. 

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Inspiring, Challenging, Delicious!

Emily Swift

Emily Swift, Owner and Marketing Manager, Printhie Wines (producers of Swift Sparkling)

Printhie Wines

Our sparklings: Swift Sparkling – Cuvée, Rosé, 2014 Vintage, 2017 Blanc de Noirs, 2011 Blanc de Blancs

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

As a family owned business we tend to do everything across the business but officially I do look after the marketing for Printhie Wines and our traditional method Swift Sparkling range.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

I haven’t always been involved in the wine industry, but have always had a deep connection with the land and agriculture which is, I believe, fundamental to understanding wine. I grew up on a cropping and stock property 60kms north west of Dubbo in New South Wales. From there I studied communications and after several years overseas I came back to focus on my corporate marketing career in the utilities and agriculture industries. My first appreciation for wine came from an unlikely source. Whilst working on private yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean I was fortunate to learn about the great wine houses of France. Serving Cristal, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Yquem to name a few. These wines were often served during the one dinner. My interest was piqued and I began to learn about wine. It was by pure chance that I ended up marrying Ed Swift, whose family had just started Printhie Wines and I moved to Orange, NSW. Whilst being involved in the family wine business for the last 17 years it has only been in the last three years that I have joined the family business full time. After several trips to Champagne the business decided to commit to making traditional method sparkling. We knew this was a labour of love – why else would you make a sparkling wine and then put it away for 10 years before seeing a return! We started Swift Sparkling in 2010 and we now have 5 sparkling wines in our portfolio. Twelve years down the track and our Swift Cuvée was awarded Best Australian NV Cuvée at the Champagne and Sparkling World Wine Championships in London at the end of 2021 and Swift has been awarded Best Sparkling in NSW for the last four years.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

It would have to be when I first experienced Cristal. I was at St Barts in the Caribbean working on a private super yacht which was chartered by Puff Daddy (Sean Combes). The only alcohol he ordered for his 7 day charter was Cristal. When he found out it was my birthday he took me (and a couple of deck hands) to a restaurant on the island for dinner. He grabbed some bottles of Cristal before we left the yacht and continued to spray them out of the window of the taxi all the way to dinner – what a waste! I was completely hooked from there and the rest, as they say, is history.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Having worked in male dominated industries for my whole working life I’m used to dealing with predetermined opinions of what your role and capabilities must be, purely based on your gender. Even when I was a senior manager in my last role I would often get asked by men to do some photocopying for them simply because I was the only female in sight. The wine industry has a long way to go like many others but I do feel there is a better awareness and heightened appreciation of the skills females in the wine industry can and do contribute. There are also some great mentoring programs in the industry that can provide career support for women so I think we should be positive about the career prospects for women in this industry.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you?

Can you share a bit about how or why? We admire Pierre Peters, based in Mesnil sur Oger (Champagne region), France. They are a family-owned champagne house that has continued to adapt and modernise their brand. We often chat to them about sparklings so it’s great to have a connection with a forward thinking Champagne house like theirs.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Our sparklings are totally on par with champagne and its incredibly frustrating that if you put down a bottle of Australian traditional method sparkling and a champagne, people will automatically grab the champagne. We need to educate Australians that we make stunning traditional method sparklings. Whilst relying on age old knowledge of crafting champagne, we have the freedom to produce new age sparklings that challenge the staus quo. Based in the cool climate region of Orange NSW, we have the perfect growing conditions for sparkling wine. The grapes for our sparklings come from the vineyards located 1000 metres above sea level – we call this the snow line. If it snows in Orange it snows down to 1000 metres every time and provide the perfect acidity for sparkling wine bases.

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

Our philosophy is to make wine that shows our connection to the land. Our sparklings are truly representational of cool climate craftsmanship from the fertile slopes of the extinct volcano Mt Canobolas from vineyards around 1000 metres above sea level. Basically we focus on fruit purity and time. It starts with the vineyard being in top condition and then giving the wines time to develop their true characters.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Passionate, fortunate, excited

Dianne Gardiner

Dianne Gardiner, Owner (and chief marketer, taster, and consumer) Rahona Valley and the Australian Cuvée Centre

www.rahonavalley.com.au

www.australiancuveecentre.com.au

Our Sparklings: Rahona Valley Cuvée Blanc, Rahona Valley Sparkling Rosé NV, Rahona Valley 2017 Vintage Rosé, Rahona Valley 2015 Blanc De Noirs – Late disgorged

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

In 2014, my husband and I purchased a small vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula, and from there our love of sparkling grew. The previous owner had made sparkling wine, and so we started to learn more and more about the process and fell in love with it. We were then introduced to Natalie Fryar, Australia’s ‘Queen of Rosé’ who started working with us in 2018, and she elevated our sparkling products immediately and showed us what more we could do. It was only then that we realised how technical sparkling winemaking is, how easy it is for things to go wrong, but also how rewarding it is when you get to taste the magic three years on.

We then had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase some fantastic sparkling wine equipment, and that lead us to establish the Australian Cuvée Centre, which is a dedicated facility on the Mornington Peninsula to assist other winemakers make great sparkling wine. With Natalie and Alisdai Park (our sparkling winemakers), we now have a facility that combines world class expertise with world class equipment to elevate sparkling winemaking.

We have more recently embarked on producing sparkling wines from Tasmania, as well as from the Mornington Peninsula, and this is now part of our journey. Helping educate consumers on the magic in the bottle that is sparkling wine, and helping them appreciate the differences, expertise, time and patience that goes into making a great bottle of sparkling. 

What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

It really is a case of science meets art – and it is truly magical what can happen inside the bottle, given the right amounts of love, care, attention and time. 

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

When we disgorged our first bottle of sparkling, and then later sat down to drink some of it.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Women are underrepresented in wine industry for sure, but we are slowly seeing that changing. What is great to see at the forefront of our sparkling wine industry are some fabulous Australian women including Natalie Fryar, Louisa Rose, Jennifer Doyle, Kate Laurie and Cate Looney. I think women add something special to sparkling winemaking.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

Working with Natalie Fryar has been amazing. She is awe-inspiring. Not only is she an amazing winemaker, whether you’re a consumer just starting out, or an experienced winemaker, Natalie has a knack of pitching the conversation at exactly right level.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Champagne have done a phenomenal job of marketing Champagne, and the rest of the world has done little. As Australian’s, we love Champagne, but most who drink it fail to appreciate the subtle differences, and fail to understand that other countries, including Australia, make fantastic sparkling wine too. We just can’t call in Champagne. And then there’s Prosecco, which is a different wine altogether, but again, few Australians understand the difference.

I think some of the best traditional method sparkling wine in Australia can absolutely stand up proud alongside Champagne and other international sparklings. Ed Carr has proven that, and the rest of us just need a little more time to get there. 

What is the winemaking philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

Our philosophy is there is no point doing things by half measures. Sparkling winemaking takes dedication and commitment well beyond most other wines. That means we need three things: premium fruit, knowledge and expertise in sparkling winemaking, and quality facilities to maintain the integrity of the product throughout its life.

We need to start with great fruit (grown for sparkling wine), and then it is our job to turn those grapes into the best sparkling wine we can produce and care for it as it develops and matures – maximising the return from the premium quality fruit in every way we can.  Only then have we done our job.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Brave, excited, challenged.

Jane Bromley

Jane Bromley, Winemaker, grapegrower and owner. Honey Moon Vineyard

Honey Moon Vineyard – Adelaide Hills

Our Sparklings: Honey Moon Vineyard Blanc de Blancs 2017 and Honey Moon Vineyard Rosé Brut 2018

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

Honey Moon Vineyard grows grapes and makes wine in the Adelaide Hills, to produce fine sparkling wine via the traditional method (aka Méthode Traditionnelle). We also make table wines and fortified wines. Our presence in the wine sector is tiny, but we are hugely passionate about what we are doing.

I also conduct sparkling wine and champagne classes, mainly for university students as part of their sensory/wine tasting training. This is such an honour, as these students are the future viticulturalists, winemakers, wine biz professionals and wine influencers in Australia and around the world.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

The history, science, alchemy, and art of wine have long held my interest. It has been many years since my first experience of an Adelaide Hills grape harvest (in 2001), and since planting our vineyard in 2004, and I remain fascinated and energised by working in wine.

The old-world wines and vineyards of Europe are a source of inspiration and underpin my many years of work as a wine educator on Champagne.

I have also had the privilege of two interesting and rewarding careers in the university sector –firstly in plant science research and later in enterprise-wide professional roles concerning policy development and implementation, legislative compliance, and enterprise bargaining.

Sparkling wine is particularly fascinating for me as it demands a lot of attention to detail, so it is interesting to make, and it also brings lots of joy to consumers.

I have a long-held interest in the historical, cultural, social and technical aspects of Champagne and was fortunate to be awarded the Vin de Champagne Award in 2002 and the Diploma d’Honneur Corporation des Vignerons de Champagne in 2009.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

I don’t recall my first taste of sparkling wine but a chance glass of a vintage champagne at a special art event astounded me … how can a wine be so fresh, so delicate, so powerful, so light, so detailed, so textural and so elegant!  After that, I kept finding great examples of sparkling wine and was hooked.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

Two women pop up brightly in my thinking – Adelaide Hills winemaker Kate Laurie and SA-based wine writer Katie Spain. 

Kate makes excellent sparkling wine. She is involved in fine detail of every aspect from the grape to the final glass, she is a very knowledgeable and down-to-earth speaker and an inclusive advocate for Adelaide Hills sparkling wine.

For me, the story behind a wine is really important – where it comes from, why, how it plays a part in the social and cultural fabric of people’s lives, etc. Katie Spain has a huge passion for the stories and people behind wine. She tracks them down and writes about them beautifully.

These women inspire me and make me feel extra pleased to be a fellow woman working in wine.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

I think that we are very well served by the quality and variety of sparkling wine available to us in Australia, from our own wineries and also from imported offerings. 

Champagne holds a unique position as the international benchmark for the very best sparkling wine. The champenois grow grapes in a very cool climate, and make their wine using insights and methods honed over many centuries. Champagne thus provides inspiration for those who aspire to make cool-climate, traditional-method, sparkling wines here and abroad. 

Australian traditional-method sparkling winemaking has been evolving over many decades, and these days has carved out its own identity in the premium wine sector.  To quote Ed Carr, ‘Australian sparkling wine began moving in two directions from the mid-80s onwards … There’s the volume stuff that’s made to a price point, and the premium sector, which took off as people started pushing to make cool-climate, traditional-method sparkling wines.

And then there’s the Proseccos, Moscatos, Pet Nats, fresh/appertif sparkling wines fermented in tank, sparkling reds, and so on, that are also available to delight our taste buds and grace our tables.’  

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

Our philosophy is simple: pay attention to what is happening in the vineyard; take what nature gives us each vintage with gratitude; be gentle with the grapes; make the best base wine we can in our mature French oak barriques, to set the wine up for eventual graceful maturation on yeast lees; be creative at the blending stage; disgorge in small batches to maximise time spent on lees, gaining complexity and texture while retaining freshness. Our intention is to make sparkling wines that have interesting flavours and textures, and that are always refreshing to drink.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

I think that it is a privilege.

Vanessa Bagot

With written permission from Smudge Publishing

Vanessa Bagot, Owner, Barringwood, Tasmania

Barringwood

Our Sparklings: Classic Cuvée, Blanc de Blanc, Tasmanian Cuvée, Schonburgersekt

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

As the owner, I have oversight across all aspects of the operations of the business and making sure each of our team members are happy and productive in the roles they play. From an execution point of view, my focus is on strategy, marketing sales and finance. I set the direction for our wine styles.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

I have a psychology degree and a Master of Commerce in marketing, and I spent most of my pre-wine career in Market Research working with business across a wide range of industries from Fast Moving Consumer Goods to niche industrial products and government. We bought Barringwood in 2012 because we thought it would be a nice hobby/distraction … it turned into more of an obsession. I love the fact that sparkling wine is associated with joy. I love the complexity in the process of making it so there can be so much variety from the same starting point.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

It wasn’t the first time, but I have a very strong recollection of buying a particular bottle of Champagne when I was 19 in 1989.  I spent the year waiting tables in Cambridge UK being paid £1.50 an hour, and shortly before I left, I went into a bottle shop and splashed out on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and decadently sipped it in a park on the banks of the Cam! 

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

It feels to me that women in the industry are very visible, very successful and respected … but I could be wrong!

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Tasmanian sparkling is amazing and compares very favorably with regards to quality and value with international sparkling, including Champagne.

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

We get to work with an amazing base product because our vineyard is climatically perfect, and our long, cool growing season allows sugars to accumulate while maintaining natural acidity. Our winemaking philosophy is to do as little as possible and work with the wonderful fruit nature delivers.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Fortunate, challenged and fascinated.

Kate Laurie

Kate Laurie, Owner/Winemaker, Deviation Road

www.deviationroad.com

Name of sparklings produced: Altair Brut Rosé, Loftia Vintage Brut, Southcote Blanc de Noirs, Beltana Blanc de Blancs

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry? 

Primarily my role is that of a sparkling winemaker for our own small family winery, however I would have to add I am fairly good at tasting them as well! I love to share what I know and often give masterclasses on tasting champagne and sparkling wines. I am always surprised at how interested people are in focusing on the technical side of the wines as much as the flavours in the glass. 

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?
Having lived and studied in Champagne in my late teens, my winemaking passion has always been to master the art of creating quality sparkling wines with their own regional context. Together with my husband Hamish, those early aspirations have been realised through the wines we produce under our Deviation Road brand. Even after about 20 years making sparkling, I am always so excited when it comes to releasing each wine after its time on lees to see the magic that has happened during the second fermentation and subsequent ageing process. There is always a level of mystery involved that no science or numbers can predict will show up in the end product.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

I discovered sparkling when I went to live in Champagne. To be completely honest, I didn’t drink much wine when I moved there, and was frantically reading my dad’s copy of Bryce Rankin “How to make good wine” before I started school! 

I do remember being mesmerised as much by the bubbly deliciousness in the glass as the descriptors my host family used to describe the aromas and flavours to look for. I left Australia after a run of 18th birthday parties, where I can safely say the attention paid to the celebratory toast sparkling was lacking compared to this new world I found myself in. My eyes were opened to the creative beauty that could come with a career that fundamentally allowed me to indulge my passion for science – which I loved, but didn’t want to spend every hour in a lab, so discovering wine and viticulture was the perfect occupation for me.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

When I started out as a winemaker it was very much a male dominated industry. I was lucky to have supportive male role models who believed there were no barriers – physical or emotional – to me fulfilling my dreams. At Deviation Road we try to empower our entire team that they can do it all. Hard work, a good attitude (and sense of humour) go far. It is my nature to be very hands on with all facets of the business – from driving the forklift and digging out fermenters to meeting with the creative team, so they have no choice really but to follow my example!

I am aware, however, that my situation is quite unique, and that for many women in the industry they have had to overcome more hurdles than I have. You still hear about women that have left good jobs after finding out that a male doing the equivalent was being paid more. That is inexcusable.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

I am massively impressed by Jane Bromley and Hylton McLean from Honey Moon Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills.  They are passionate about their craft as well as have an incredible knowledge of champagne and sparkling styles. They are also extremely humble and dedicated to making a very small amount of exceptional sparkling wine … all by hand and disgorged to order.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Without a doubt there are world class Australian sparklings coming from pockets all around the country. The highest quality examples I’ve tasted haven’t necessarily come from the traditionally ‘famous’ regions, but from people of incredible grape growing and winemaking talent. It takes serious commitment in every step of the process to have all the aspects align in a harmonious bottle of sparkling. Traditional Method is labour intensive, takes patience and is expensive to make.  Georgia from Georgia Dale Wines in Victoria is so gutsy and passionate about perfecting sparkling and her first release Blanc de Blancs was very exciting. You get a sense of her strength and dedication in the wine, mirrored in the power of the aroma and structure on the palate. Heading up to Orange in NSW, Printhie wines, are creating excellent age-worthy sparklings under their Swift Sparkling label. Then, of course, in Tasmania you have Arras that leads the way in complex aged sparkling under the meticulous eye of Ed Carr and his team. Delamere also in Tassie is one that also impresses repeatedly … to name a few! Back here in the Adelaide Hills, DAOSA is leading the way in oak aged base wine adding layers of complexity. Anyone interested in increasing their knowledge of Australian Sparkling has a fun journey ahead – shop at a small independent retailer, as they will have specific knowledge of the styles and be able to guide you through a whole year or two’s tasting journey!

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

We value the elements that make the wine, not the hand of the winemaker. The dream is to produce a glass of sparkling that showcases a hint of that season, gives a nod to the region it came from, and a wink to the gods of time who nurture it through the years before it is ready to be released.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Thrilling. Crazy. Fortunate.

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Here’s cheers to the fabulous women of Champagne

Adelaide Hills Sparkling Cellar Doors

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

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)

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

Gotta love a Festival!

If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I talk a lot about making new discoveries when it comes to Sparkling Wine and Champagne. Yes, we all have our favourites, but I love being out and about, exploring, meeting new people, hearing their stories, new sensory discoveries of sights and sounds, and, of course, taste, mouthfeel, aroma, and all of the senses that go along with tasting sparkling wine.

Visiting regions and Cellar Doors is a great way to do this, but it also has its limitations. Making the time to be away, planning to get the most out of your day, and then who will be the designated driver, as one full tasting experience can put you over the limit. So whilst enjoyable and highly recommended, how do you get the tasting experience all in one place?

Step into the festival! The origin of the word comes from the word Feast, and in other Latin-based languages means party. And feast and party it is. I love a good festival – a chance to be out and about and meet people, explore and make new discoveries, all in one compact space, before taking public transport/taxi/Uber home.

In Melbourne, which is arguably Australia’s home of Food and Wine experiences, we are very fortunate to have a festival to celebrate just that – The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) opening at the end of this month and running 31 March – 9 April. I was so excited to see that there are many bubbly-focussed events, as well as some of the bigger events like the City Cellar Door as part of the River Graze (held on the first weekend), which will see tasting tables along the banks of the Yarra River. Entry to this family-friendly event is free, and the $10 Festival glass allows you to participate and enjoy wines by the glass or bottle. Visit www.MFWF.com.au for more information.

I am very pleased to have been invited to attend a few of the Bubbly Events at MFWF as accredited media. I will be at the City Cellar Door on the opening night, and here is where I will be for other events. Feel free to find me and say hello. Here are details with links:

Fed in French. Fri 31 March – Sun 2 April this is also part of the FREE River Graze Fed event, the French will take over Federation Square with traditional dishes, fine wines and sweets to treat your Francophile taste buds. The River Terrace will be full of marquees showcasing fare from all regions of France. The crème de la crème will be LE BAR, featuring a selection of French wines, beer and champagne right next to French bistro, Bon Ap’ – popping up for the very first time away from their usual Fitzroy address.  http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/fed-in-french-6697

Champagne Lunch with Bollinger – Sun 2 April. I do love a Champagne matched meal. Even its name conjures up good times and bubbles on the tongue. So raise your flute to make a toast to everything that makes Victorian produce great, especially when matched with one of our favourite champagnes. Gather with friends at the 2016 Hotel Bar of the Year to enjoy an indulgent Sunday afternoon of five exquisite courses matched with Bollinger. http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/champagne-lunch-with-bollinger-6611

Sweet and Savoury Champagne Party – Tuesday 4 April.  I am so excited about this event. Om Nom, which is the dessert bar at The Adelphi that we included in our recent Melbourne Bubbly Evening (see our photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages), has this great event to surprise your tastebuds – and the masters of dessert are experimenting as never before. Join chefs Jo Ward and Darren Jones on a fun canapé ride at a stand-up champagne party, with delightful sweet elements entering the savoury dishes, and clever savoury twists appearing in desserts. Think Balsamic Fairy Floss, Venison with White Chocolate and Truffle Mousse, and dishes such as Squid Bubbletea and Cowramelo! Match this with Laurent Perrier, Champagne Besserat, and Louis Roederer as the champagne sponsors, providing free flowing champagne all night. Very exciting! Here is the link

http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/a-savoury-sweet-sweet-savoury-champagne-party-6596

Best of Victoria High Tea. Two sessions daily between Saturday 1 April to Sunday 9 April. This event focuses on the extraordinary native produce Victoria has to offer. Sample bite-sized delicacies including native Mt Martha oysters, Port Phillip scallops, macadamia tartlets and wattle seed lamingtons. All matched with a lovely selection of Victorian Sparkling Wines. I will be there on Wednesday 5 April, 3–5.30pm. http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/best-of-victoria-high-tea-6450

If you are not from Melbourne, maybe this is the perfect time to visit?! There are lots of regional events for MFWF too, so take a look at the website and plan your program.

Also keep an eye out throughout the year for wine festivals in your area or in regions that you would like to visit.  Book a tour, hire a vehicle with your designated driver, plan an overnight stay, or draw straws to see who gets to be Captain.

And on that note, The Bubbles Review has our own festival happening in Melbourne 28 April – 30 April. We are very excited to introduce the inaugural The Bubbles Festival – a celebration of Sparkling Wine.  See the link to our events page here.  https://thebubblesreview.com/eventstours/

We hope to bring The Bubbles Festival to other states in the future.

It is definitely Feast, Festive, Fiesta, Festival time. Here’s cheers to that!

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 monthly Subscriber prize draw. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!

 

 

Interview with Floriane Eznack – Champagne Jacquart

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Floriane at a Jacquart Masterclass at Taxi Kitchen in Melbourne. I was fortunate to be given a VIP interview slot to speak with her before the Masterclass, and Floriane generously shared her time and insight with me about working in Champagne.

As a young winemaker, Floriane earned a Masters Degree in Oenology in Reims in 2004. Her studies included a couple of harvests in some of Champagne’s finest Houses, including Moët & Chandon. She joined Jacquart in January 2011 as Chef de Cave (Chief Winemaker), where she plays a central role in the creation of the finest quality blends for all of the Jacquart’s champagnes.

Historically there have been some great women of Champagne. We asked Floriane about women working in Champagne today.

Floriane talked about the role of the wine maker, and how in Champagne the main responsibility is to produce the consistency of style in the non-vintage blend.

She shared with us her motivation for working in the industry, and how she gave up her dream of becoming a fighter pilot. When she chose the wine industry, it was clear, she didn’t want to work with any other wine, but bubbles; “Not just bubbles for celebration, but a wine that everyone loves. It cheers you up and makes you happy and there is a magic behind champagne” she says.

The more that you discover champagne, the more you discover the diversity of it. In introducing Champagne Jacquart, (which is a relatively young label at around 50 years old) to Australia, Floriane says she understands that people feel safe tasting a brand that is well known, but that Champagne is a rich region, very diverse with different styles. There are over 8,000 labels in Champagne, so be curious about tasting – wine is about discovering and sharing. The brand is a modern style, in particular the mission was to highlight the Chardonnay and use the red grapes to enhance that as a fresh style, with refined bubbles and a soft and smooth finish.

See the full interview with Floriane here:

You may also be interested in our blog with an excerpt from the Masterclass – Minerality in Champagne

A beautiful Jacquart giveaway is the prize for our monthly subscriber’s draw for

Champagne Jacquart Giveaway

February. Jacquart describe their passion as such; “Each wine tells the story of its relationship with Champagne lovers. Each wine offers a mosaic of emotions depending on the context in which it is selected and tasted. A youthful and international brand, Champagne JACQUART is now well known across the world.”

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

Minerality in Champagne

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a Masterclass with Floriane Eznack, Chef de Cave, Champagne Jacquart at Taxi Kitchen in Melbourne. In this short video she is discussing minerality in Champagne and how this helps to create the flavour and texture profile of different champagnes.

Champagne is particularly known for chalk which was laid down as sediment in massive seas that covered this area, it is like a fingerprint of the land, and the ancient sea fossils found in the soils. The expression of the soil, is more than texture and flavour, it also helps to create the mouth feel, and as Floriane explains, there is more diversity than just chalk to be found.

Other terms that she mentions are Grand Cru and Premier Cru. The word ‘Cru’ in French means growth. This classification of Champagne vineyards was developed in the mid-20th century as a means of setting the price of grapes grown through the villages of the Champagne wine region.

This is a percentile system known as the Échelle des Crus (“ladder of growth”), Grand Cru is an official rating, it is the top of the scale in terms of quality, grapes from one of the 17 villages selected as Grand Cru are considered the best quality, then Premier Cru which the next highest level, and the remainder referred to as Cru.

She also mentions ‘Vintages’ and ‘Non Vintages’.  In short, Non Vintages can include grapes from different harvests, it is a way of blending to get consistencies of style to create a signature champagne. It is usually the ‘lead in’ in terms of pricing for a brand. A Vintage champagne is a champagne that is created from one particular year, it will have a flavour profile that reflects that particular year’s harvest.  It is a lot more difficult to create as it is dependent on the year, if it wasn’t a good year, then a vintage will not be created.

Take a front seat at the Masterclass with this short video excerpt.

Floriane Eznack, Chef de Cave, Champagne Jacquart

As a young winemaker, Floriane earned a Masters Degree in Oenology in Reims in 2004. Her studies included a couple of harvests in some of Champagne’s finest Houses, including Moët & Chandon. Since she joined Jacquart in January 2011, she has played a central role in the creation of the finest quality blends for all of the Jacquart’s champagnes. A relatively young brand for Champagne – established 50 years ago, and new to Australia they are definitely making their mark. They describe their passion as such ~ “Each wine tells the story of its relationship with Champagne lovers. Each wine offers a mosaic of emotions depending on the context in which it is selected and tasted. A youthful and international brand, Champagne JACQUART is now well known across the world.”

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