Monday, November 5, 2007

Sparkling Red Wine - what the!

So what do you do when as a State you already make some of the best red wines in the world? Make a sparkling red! This underlies the fact that as with any great product a fantastic base product, or ingredient, is essential. By using great fruit, whether that be Shiraz, Cabernet, or Merlot, it is possible to produce outstanding sparkling reds.

Sparkling reds are particularly Australian – despite the fact that they were first produced in France in the mid 1800’s. The first recorded Australian Sparkling Burgundy was produced in 1881, by the Victorian Champagne Company. This was described more as rose coloured, and is still made in Burgundy and Loire regions of France.

A sparkling red was entered into the 1894 Royal Agricultural Society wine show in Melbourne, by Hans Irvine of Great Western, Victoria. They also received a gold medal in the 1895 Bordeaux Exhibition of France to the 1893 Sparkling Burgundy. Hans Irvine & Co later become Seppelt which nowadays is a major producer of long lived Sparkling Shiraz.

Red wine destined for sparkling red typically has common characteristics, packed with primary fruit flavours, rich in texture, but soft and refreshing on the palate. Grapes are often picked at a later stage to get the ripe fruit flavours and intense colour. Generally the wine is made so that they do not extract too many mouth drying tannins. Any oak influence will hopefully be subtle rather than dominant.
The big ripe fruit flavours from Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale can easily fulfil these needs. Rockford Black Shiraz is definitely a favourite. But in the Barossa more readily available sparkling red’s come from Charles Melton, Peter Lehmann Wines, St Hallett, and Langmeil. All of which are producers Rich & Lingering support on our tours.

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