Australia’s most lauded sparkling winemaker, Ed Carr, had barely tasted a drop of wine until he chanced a job in the industry in his 20s and kicked off a 40-year career. His expertise has seen him help reframe Australian sparkling into a revered world-class drop.
No, we were classic ‘Ten Pound Poms’ who came to Australia in the 1960s and wine wasn’t part of family life like it was in Italian families who had a glass with every meal. I was more of a beer and bourbon man up until wine came into my life in my 20s.
I studied chemistry and food microbiology at university and got a job in the ’70s as a laboratory technician in a winery that made sparkling wine. With my microbiology background, people assumed I would know what to do in the secondary fermentation part of sparkling winemaking.
From then on, it was a progressive interest in wine and winemaking in general. Winemaking, and particularly sparkling winemaking, was from the mid-’80s.
Back then, Australian wine was trapped in a ‘budget’ sector. It’s amazing where the Australian sparkling wine sector has come in the last 20-30 years. We started the House of Arras brand in 1995, with the goal of producing a wine that would be equivalent to the best in the world, and be distinctly Tasmanian, and I think we’ve come a long way to getting there.
First, there’s the finalising of the base wine blends at the end of harvest when we blend varieties and vineyards – it’s a culmination of all the work that’s gone into planning the harvest and the fruit. We line them all up and see what we’ve got – there’s a real sense of achievement and excitement.
The next stage I love is a long way away, when you’ve aged the wines and you’re looking to add liqueurs to get the wine right for market. With an aged style like Arras, that might be four to 10 years after you actually made the wine.
To me, it’s about training your palate to recognise certain qualities, which comes with a lot of practice. And then [be able to use] winemaking techniques to create the characters that you like or remove the characters that you don’t want.
Sparkling wine’s image is built on fun and fashion and food, and it is [synonymous] with celebration. But one thing we miss is how well sparkling wine goes with food – it’s not just a drink to kick off a dinner party – you can make sparkling wine last longer into evening events. With Arras sparkling, if you let them bubble away for a while and warm up a tad … the [flavours] evolve a little bit further.
I believe in specialisation, whether you’re an aeronautical engineer or a mechanic or a winemaker. If you specialise in certain things, you can do it better and your total focus becomes an obsession. I look at sparkling wine and still think I have more to learn and more to do, so I don’t have an interest in other wine styles… apart from consuming them!
Bright citrus and grapefruit characters with enough ageing for some softness and creaminess.
Strawberry and raspberry characters with a yeasty complexity and taste.
A red fruit-driven style, expect some lovely creaminess and complexity.