Tasmanian Sparkling Festival - Effervescence at Josef Chromy

Effervescence Tasmania – a land of sparkling greatness

The inaugural Effervescence Sparkling wine festival took place last weekend, from Friday to Sunday, at the elegant and modern Josef Chromy winery in Relbia, just south of Launceston. On Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a Masterclass with four of the leading sparkling winemakers in Tasmania, and moderated by Champagne and wine guru Tyson Stelzer. It was a chance to hear the inspirations behind some of the sparklings, but also to get to grips with the philosophies that the winemakers are bringing to their respective grapes and terroir. Two seven-wine flights were served, beginning with non-vintage, then moving to vintage, and finally vintage late-disgorged. Throughout, malolactic fermentation was key to removing too much of the searing Tasmanian acidity, as it seemed often easier for winemakers to go straight through full malolactic fermentation while on yeast lees. This produces a softer palated wine, and creates a balance between the sparkling nature and the fruit on offer. There was some use of oak but on the whole a lot of stainless steel and lees time.

I wanted to find out also if there was some development with disclosing disgorgement (when the yeast lees are removed and the liqueur dosage is added to the bottle, and it is sealed with cork) dates on the bottles or label. This is important, because being informed about the age and length of time that your sparkling has sat on shelf or off yeast lees is important to judging its safety and security in the bottle. I was told that Josef Chromy is now laser-cutting disgorgement dates on bottles, while Arras would like to label disgorgement dates. Dr Andrew Pirie says he’s already doing it, and both Jansz and Clover Hill print lot numbers on their sparklings which allow the dates to be deciphered.

Flight #1 now boarding - The Non-vintages, and vintage Rosé
Ninth Island Sparkling NV
Beautiful golden-green colour. This wine had spent 24 months on yeast lees, and is composed of mostly Chardonnay, with 30% Pinot Noir and the minority Pinot Meunier. The nose is zesty with some complexity, quite a bit going on. The palate showed a lot more lemon and lime zest, creamy notes, some biscuity fragments and a dry finish. Some slightly caramelised fruit in there too. Someone made the comment that they had avoided this wine in the past, but would no longer. It is definitely a wine of good quality. 91 points.

Arras Brut Elite 701
Yellow-green, a blend of mostly ’07 vintage, so has spent the best part of six to seven years on yeast lees. Pinot Noir leads the way at about 60-65%, with about 10% of the wine fermented in young oak. Ed Carr says he’s looking for some semi-oxidation in this wine, chasing that slightly reduced fruit nose. The nose is biscuits and cream, some slight yeast, and warmer than the Ninth Island. On the taste it has bursts of scattered fruit pinging around, with some smoke or tobacco. More drying than the Ninth Island too. This would stand up to some food attention, for sure. I liked this effort! 93 points.

Jansz Premium Cuvée NV
Back to the lighter straw colour of the Ninth Island. This wine has gone through full malolactic fermentation, and has been partially fermented with wild yeast in old French oak. Winemaker Louisa Rose says she’s looking to place the wine in a slightly reductive, oxidative environment in barrel, and to draw complexity from yeast lees. The wine is about 52-53% Chardonnay, the rest Pinot Noir. It spends about 2-3 years on lees, and is based mostly on the 2009 and 2010 vintages. The nose is zesty, with grass and cream on a mellow bed. Nice complexity on the palate, medium dry with a shortish finish. A little sweeter than the Arras Brut Elite 701, and is asking to be drunk as an aperitif. 92 points.

Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvée
Yellowish-gold. Mainly based on 2009 and 2010 vintages, with some 2011. Winemaker Loic le Calvez says he’s looking for rich, fuller bodied flavours, with a big factor being the dosage. The wine is 57% Chardonnay, 6% Pinot Meunier and the rest Pinot Noir, spending 24-30 months on lees. The nose is biscuity-creamy, like a biscuit filling. The palate is zingier and tangier than all the above, with more crushed candy flavours. A different and interesting wine, and would suit those looking for a new perspective on Tasmanian non-vintage. 92 points.

42 Degrees South Rosé NV
Rose pink with a transparent rim. According to the winemaker, the colour comes from primary fruit, with no table wine added for colour or flavour. The nose has biscuit and yeast warmth, fruit notes of strawberry and raspberry – a very fruity nose. In the mouth it has highly accented strawberries, some mineral and crushed candy elements. A very fruit palate to match the nose. Persistent and mouth-watering acid. A solid non-vintage rosé, and worth seeking out. 91 points.

Jansz Vintage Rosé 2010
Lighter colour than the 42 Degrees South, more of a transparent pink. Aged in old oak, 100% malolactic fermentation, with some table wine added. Made from Jansz’s own vineyards planted in the 1980s, on a north-facing slope. The nose is brilliant, with smooth wood notes, ripe fruits, and flower petals. In the mouth there is biscuit, crushed candy, gorgeous acid in a medium-dry basket. This is getting seriously good. 94 points.

Arras Vintage Rosé 2005
Intense nose of beautifully balanced and softly spiced fruit. On the taste, there is sweet chocolate strawberry notes, less flower and more power than the Jansz, with piercing acid loveliness. Much older obviously, showing great power and potential for longevity. Although its older and made much differently to the Jansz, they stand on par as two edges of the vintage rosé coin. 94 points.

Flight #2 now departing – Vintage and late-disgorged
The four vintage wines here are all from 2008. A year of big yields, leading to perhaps better sparklings than table wines, although it needed careful sorting in order to find the best fruit.

Josef Chromy Vintage 2008
Deep pale gold. Fermented entirely in stainless steel, and spent five and a half years on lees. A 50-50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The nose is minerals – straight, pristine mineral power over fruit. The palate backs this up in abundance with a blanket of smooth, cooling and pristine minerals. There are cream and biscuit notes, and a good ripe fruit presence – round and ripe fruits. Would dance with a Comté cheese. 94 points.

Pipers Brook Vintage 2008
Medium gold colour. Again a 50-50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that has been aged in some old French oak. A round, freshly fruited nose, with a sumptuous juicy fruit smell. On the palate there are flavours of beautiful acid-rich fruit, some warmth, and a raspberry-lemon crush component. Goes blow for blow with the Josef Chromy, but a different beast. 94 points.

Frogmore Creek Cuvée Evermore 2008
More of a transparent gold. This is essentially a Blanc de Noirs (Sparkling made from the juice of Pinot Noir), and has gone through no oak aging or malolactic fermentation. It is disgorged as it is required, so it could potentially continue to sit on lees, gaining complexity. Red apple fruit skins on the nose, with red apple fruit. There is a great rich pastry softness there too. The taste is beautiful raspberry power, with red skins of apple, some crushed candy, and rocks. Very pure fruit here. Drink this while basking in the sun. 94.5 points.

Clover Hill Blanc de Blancs 2008
As the name suggests, this is a pure Chardonnay sparkling, the complete opposite to the Frogmore. Yellow-gold colour from the Chardonnay. Loic says he wants to make beautiful still Chardonnays, then will make them sparkle. The nose is warm and rich, with strawberry and raspberry tinges. Tasting the wine reveals warm, rich fruit, caramelised figs or fig juice, or pulp even. Purple fruits spring to mind (der David.. a fig). Big finish, minerals basking in the juice throughout. Might sound wanky, but I thought it was gorgeous. 95 points.

Late-disgorged beasts
Arras E. J. Carr Late Disgorged 2002
Ed Carr says this wine has spent quite a while on cork, and is more reductive (as with his wines above). This wine has had 12 months on cork, and will go a long, long time. Pure gold in colour. The nose is minerals and fruit in a Morris dance. The fruit really smacks you like a boxing glove wrapped in a blanket. Drinking the wine, it has ripe, powerful fruit, mouth-coating acidity, with a super long, eons long finish. Red and white fruit are making some passionate love here, with white flesh and white fruit skins and some stone fruit flavours pinging around. Gosh, gee whizz, and wow. 97 points.

Clover Hill Prestige Cuvée 2001
Blanc de Blancs again, has spend ten years sleeping on lees. The colour of gold bullion (I only know from pictures, never having owned any – but I’m open to offers). A nose of creamy lushness, biscuit, but not offering a lot else at this stage. Minerals and a full lemon liqueur then start to emerge and slather my nose. Drinking the wine reveals a big openness, minerals, peach and mango flavours, warm fruit bordering on stewed fruit on the finish. Furry skins on the back palate, like nectarine skin. Raspberry and lemon gripping on into the deep finish. A killer Blanc de Blancs! Could pair beautifully with a roast chicken with lemon and thyme. 95 points.

Freycinet Radenti 2002
Transparent gold in colour. Two thirds Chardonnay, one third Pinot Noir. Biscuit, cream, candy and biscuit cream filling on the nose. Warm yeast emerges with air, kind of bready. In the mouth there is warm fruits, beautiful, pristine round fruit. Gorgeously round actually. Doesn’t reach the heights of the last two, but gives it a great big go. 94 points.

So Tasmanian sparkling is achieving amazing things, and is only going to get stronger with climate change. The winemakers all agreed that there is more to come, as we learn to master our terroir and work with it. No wonder some big mainland companies are buying in. Wouldn’t you?!

Good drinking to you,

Cover image: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/katiebell/files/2012/12/Sparkling-wine21.jpg 
Arras image: http://www.winehouse.com.au/img/productImages/Arras_LD_EJCarr_2000.jpg
Clover Hill image: http://cloverhillwines.messageforce.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CH-blog-banner.jpg
Jansz image: http://ribsandrumps.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/0001s_0002_8201_Jansz-Premium-Non-Vintage_sparkling1.jpg1-1024x490.jpg
Josef Chromy image: https://www.crackawines.com.au/Images/ImageGalleryPortraitNoWaterMark/NV_Josefchromy_Sparkling.JPG
Pipers Brook image: http://kreglingerwineestates.com/assets/bottles/PBV/_resampled/contentimage-PipersBrookSparklingLR.jpg
Frogmore image: http://cdn1.bigcommerce.com/server3600/c3657/products/455/images/1144/Frogmore-Creek-Evermore-2008__82874.1405414224.386.513.jpg?c=2
Ninth Island: https://www.crackawines.com.au/Images/ImageGalleryPortraitNoWaterMark/NV_NInthIsland_Sparkling.png


  1. Great notes.
    The 2008 Josef Chromy is actually five and a half years on lees. It was three years when it was first released in 2011, however the latest disgorging was in September. With 12 months cork age, this wine should improve further.

    1. Thanks for pointing the error out! It has been corrected. It's a wonderful wine and I agree that it will be better with age. Hope to see more great Josef Chromy sparklings out in the next few years. Cheers!



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I think I was captured by how essentially natural or organic the whole process of winemaking is. It's farming, it's viticulture, it's weather and soil, and many more things. It's the winemaker. But after all these things, after the cap is unscrewed or the cork popped, I (and you) get to enjoy it. Then we talk about it and learn some more. Which is, I guess, the reason why you're here! Here you'll find stories, links, wine education samples and wine reviews. I am entirely independent and my wine reviews and ratings are based on my own thoughts and opinions. I accept no endorsements for products or good reviews. Enjoy! I can be reached for comments, feedback and questions at dbtaylor01@gmail.com. Good drinking to you! David

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