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Food and beverage stories

Sparkling future for Tassie wines

Edition 194_SparklingWine

Tasmania’s wine sector is booming: a new report hails it as a $115 million industry, a ‘cracking’ vintage is just wrapping up, and our sparkling stars are setting the world alight.

Hard to believe it was only 30 years ago that Tasmania’s wine-makers began dabbling in sparkling wines. A drop in the ocean when compared to the grand champagne houses of France with histories and vintages stretching back centuries.

Yet, an influential critic has declared our sparkling wines second only to those mighty champagnes of France.

“Right now, the greatest sparkling wine on earth, outside of Champagne, comes from Tasmania,” top champagne and sparkling wine critic, Tyson Stelzer, told us from his Brisbane home.

“There is a real buzz in influential wine circles around the world about the calibre of Tasmanian sparkling wines.”

This glowing endorsement follows the release of his highly anticipated Tyson Stelzer’s Australian Sparkling Report 2018.

Not only did the report identify Tasmania as, “Australia’s hero sparkling state, topping the charts on every measure,” but it also pointed to growing international acclaim.

Featured in the report was a blind tasting in New York where four top French champagnes – with price tags upwards of $600 – were pitted against a selection of Tasmania’s finest.

Tyson Stelzer asked: “How would the tiny state of Tasmania stand up…in the stratospheric company of the greatest sparkling wines on earth?”

“Tasmanian sparkling is on the level of champagne,” was the answer from one matriarch of a noted French cuvee house.

Tyson Stelzer’s report makes special reference to Tasmania’s House of Arras, which last November had a ‘historic win’ being named Best Australian Producer at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.

He selected the House of Arras – alongside Seppelts – as Australia’s top sparkling wine producer, awarding it seven stars.

Acclaimed Tasmanian producers Clover Hill, Jansz TasmaniaPirie and Stefano Lubiana, all received five stars.

“Tasmania remains but a small player in volume terms, however, its significance as Australia’s leader in cool climate wine growing cannot be overstated,” Tyson Stelzer’s report concludes.

Each year some 4.5 million bottles of sparkling are produced in Tasmania – about 35 per cent of the state’s total wine production.

“Australia’s stereotype that our wines are big, bold and brash has been shattered by the beautifully elegant wines of Tasmania which are competing for the very first time with the great cool wine regions of northern Europe,” Tyson Stelzer explained.

“There is a long-term story at play here.”

Meantime, as the world celebrates Tasmania’s sparkling stars, another report is further cause for celebration.

It found that wine contributes $115 million to Tasmania’s economy every year, making it one of the State’s top ten industries.

“The report’s findings accurately capture the sector’s significant and growing contribution to the island’s economy,” Wine Tasmania Chief Executive, Sheralee Davies, said.

Commissioned by Wine Tasmania, the report provides the first comprehensive quantitative analysis of the Tasmanian wine industry and found:

  • $100 million is injected into the economy annually through agriculture (vineyards) and manufacturing (wineries)
  • A further $15.2 million is added through wine tourism (cellar doors)
  • The industry sustains 2,063 full-time jobs (224 of these in wine tourism)
  • Investment in Tasmania’s wine industry is above the Australian average
  • Tasmanian wines have a higher average selling price

“Most of the wine sector’s value is derived post the farm-gate, and this report provides unprecedented insight into the substantial overall value of the Tasmanian wine sector to the state,” Ms Davies added.

“It’s an exciting time of growth in the sector’s relative youth, as we continue to attract global interest in our wines and ever-increasing visitation to our cellar doors.”

Interestingly, the report was released as Tasmania’s 2018 vintage – which by all accounts is amongst the best – was wrapping up.

“A cracking vintage,” are the words chosen by Ms Davies.

“It is shaping up as one of the great vintages and it is likely to set records for yields, and in terms of quality we are hearing really positive reports across all grape varieties.”

Half of those grapes are Pinot Noir (44 per cent), a quarter Chardonnay (23 per cent) followed by Sauvignon Blanc (12 per cent), Pinot Gris (11 per cent) and Riesling plus others make up the rest (10 per cent).

Until now, Tasmania’s best-ever vintage was in 2016, where 15,000 tonnes of grapes ended up in 13 million bottles of wine. 2018 is expected to top that.

And the reason?

Ideal growing conditions – warm weather across the season without being hot, and very little damaging rain. This also resulted in an early harvest with virtually all grapes plucked from the vines by the end of April.

You can expect the first bottles from this ‘cracking’ vintage to start appearing on shelves in spring: an event that won’t go unnoticed by Tasmania’s 160 wine producers and connoisseurs.

“Our wines always stand out,” Ms Davies said.

“They look youthful, they look bright and they look lively.

“Tasmanian wines jump out of their glass with intensity.”

Image courtesy of Tyson Stelzer

Wine Tasmania’s Sheralee Davies talks to us about the 2018 vintage and how this year’s wines are shaping up. View the video below:

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Watch video on YouTube

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Watch video on YouTube

8 May 2018, Edition 194

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