The French have their world-renowned Champagne, and the Italians their cool prosecco, but there’s no need to travel far for a super bottle of bubbly, as Australia is home to some exceptional sparkling wines. With climates from very warm through to icy cold, and associated wine styles ranging from sparkling shiraz to Champagne-style bubbly wine, there are Australian sparkling wines to suit every taste and table — whether you’re after great-value fizz, or classy single vineyard and vintage stars.
Right across the country, from Western Australia’s Great Southern to the southern coastline in South Australia, to Victoria and Tasmania, wines that run the gamut from casual drinks all the way through to some of the finest sparkling found anywhere in the world, are being crafted. After all, many Australian wine regions have some of the oldest vines in the world — thanks for the housewarming gift, Busby!
If you are looking for quality in your sparkling wine, there is a simple rule: the cooler, the better. The Adelaide Hills and Tasmania are at the top of their game, while southern Victoria and Great Southern, where ocean breezes work their magic, are producing exciting sparklings as well. While we’d never degrade the finesse of a Champagne, the exuberance of a prosecco, or the charisma of a cava, Australian wine can certainly rival these great classics in its depth, complexity, and sophistication. Our homegrown sparkling winemakers employ the same dedication to their craft as the great pioneers of bubbly wine have before them, and it shows.
To answer this question, we only need to look at which are the preferred grapes to use to make sparkling wine. Local sparkling wines are made from the classic Champagne grape varieties of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, with the exact mix in each wine determining the flavour. So for entry-level wines that are often sourced from the Riverland or Riverina, and made largely from chardonnay, the flavours are more in the pear and peach skin spectrum with little or no yeasty complexity. If this sounds like your type of sparkling wine, try a Yarran Cuvee Blanc.
As we rise up the quality scale, pinot noir and pinot meunier have an increasing impact, with evocative citrus and subtle toasty flavours taking the lead. These wines tend to process those more savoury nuances — a key sign for great sparkling. Look out for aromas of delicate French pastry and praline, or richer baked goods and freshly toasted brioche in these types. We’d pick a Krelinger Vintage Brut or a Pirie Sparkling NV for these characteristics.
When it comes to food matches for Australian sparklings, the wide range of styles puts almost everything on the table. For simple entry-level wines with tropical fruit flavours, go for picnic food: spring rolls, prawns and cold barbecued chicken. For more refined sparkling wines, try a plate of oysters, smoked salmon and tempura vegetables. And for rosé? Get adventurous with Asian chicken wings or gourmet pizza.
Contrary to what pop-culture would have you believe, sparkling wine is not just reserved for exclusive soirees. Sparkling wines are able to cut through fatty, greasy, or oily food with ease. This is thanks to those fizzy bubbles, which are able to plough through anything from fish and chips to a cheeseburger. A glass (or plastic cup) of fizzy wine can glam up even the grungiest of meals.
It’s not often that the wine world steps back in time, but that’s exactly the story with pet-nat, short for pétillant-naturel. It’s the old-fashioned way to make sparkling wines — pet-nats are bottled while the wines are still fermenting with their all-important yeasts. When the yeasts have finished their job, they remain in the wine, giving its cloudy appearance plus deliciously savoury and earthy flavours.
Australia produces some of the best sparkling wine in the world. With plenty of styles, textures, flavours, and regions to choose from.