edited by Sue Courtney
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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"
How about a Sparkling Red this Festive Season
Around about now food and wine lovers around the globe will be deep into the cookery books planning the all-important Christmas meal, either lunch or dinner, and on or around Christmas Day. The traditional Christmas fair, even among those in the Southern Hemisphere who may sweat through the summer months, is Roast Turkey with all the trimmings.
Those of us on the Left Island have long had the ideal match for roast Turkey, a flute filled with a good Sparkling Red, the 'Red' being more than likely being Sparkling shiraz.
Sparkling Shiraz in Australia dates back over 100 years, carrying the stylised name "Sparkling Burgundy" up until the late 1980's. Sparkling Shiraz almost died out as a style a few years back, with only Seppelt and a handful of other producers bottling the style. Seppelt's signalled it's intent to delete the style, and in the ensuing wave of nostalgia, the wine buying public took another look at the style and its rebirth began. Nowadays there are new Sparkling Reds coming onto the market all the time.
The biggest producer of Sparkling Red in Australia is Seppelt, who at Great Western produces the Great Western Original Sparkling Shiraz priced around the $16 mark, and the benchmark Show Sparkling Shiraz, which has extended oak aging of the base wine, extended time 'on lees' and then bottle maturation prior to release. The current released vintage is the 1990 which is selling for around $60, which is great value for the quality of wine produced. Sparkling Reds now are available in all price brackets, with some labels available from around $10. In my opinion the cheaper labels are quite coarse drinking, and I generally will refuse a second glass, which is quite something for me. Shiraz is predominant Grape variety seen, Australian wineries are also producing Sparkling Durif, Sparkling Cabernet, Sparkling Merlot, and various blends include a Pinot Noir/Shiraz coming from Domain Chandon in the Yarra Valley.
However send more money, say from $18 or more, and you get a vastly better drink, showing great complexity, velvety mouthfilling characters and a great long finish. Many well also amply reward bottle aging, which integrates the flavours while increasing the complexity of the wine. I had the privilege of drinking a 1965 Seppelt Sparkling 'Burgundy' recently which was still showing varietal fruit and with a gentle fizz and wonderful underlying complex old characters. My current favourite Sparkling Reds are
Sparkling Reds should be served chilled, but not as much as for Champagne, about Chardonnay serving temperature is good. Too cold will shut down the wonderful aromas of the wine. A champagne flute is the best glass for this style of wine.
The Sparkling reds come in a number of styles; these tasting notes from a recent tasting of Sparkling Reds provide some insight into the range, and also the joy of the great Sparkling Red.
1999 "Chainsaw", Tim Knappstein Clare valley, South Australia
1998 Majella Sparkling Shiraz Coonawarra, South Australia
1997 Auldstone Sparkling Shiraz Taminick/Glenrowan, North East Victoria
Morris Shiraz Durif NV Rutherglen, North East Victoria
Rockford Black Shiraz, 1999 disgorgement Barossa Valley
1985 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz Great Western, Victoria
1991 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz Great Western, Victoria
© Murray Almond
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