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Sparklers reach 'champagne level'

Edition 190_Duval-Leroy

When sparkling wine expert Tyson Stelzer lined up Tasmanian offerings with champagne at an Effervescence dinner in November, he had an heroic tale to tell.

The previous month in New York he had orchestrated a similar comparative tasting.

World authority on fizz, Carol Duval-Leroy, head of the champagne house Duval-Leroy, was among the assembled industry professionals.

Ms Duval-Leroy exclaimed: "Thank you for introducing me to the best sparkling wines of Tasmania. I almost said ‘champagnes’! They are on that level!"

Respected American wine writer and judge, Chuck Hayward, wrote afterwards that House of Arras wines, which have won best sparkling awards at every major Australian wine show this year, were world-class and "easily rival what the French can do."

"What accolades for our talented sparkling wine producers; and what a boost for the Tasmanian brand," the Executive Director of Brand Tasmania, Robert Heazlewood, said.

"Brett Torossi, of the Brand Tasmania Transition Taskforce, recently spoke of the 'heroic work' that has been done to build the brand over recent years.

"In executing his New York events with the assistance of Andrew Pirie and other wine-makers, Mr Stelzer matched those other individual acts of brand heroism."

A year ago, at Effervescence 2016, Mr Stelzer, the 2015 Wine Communicator of the Year and a respected authority on all things fizzy, said Tasmanian sparkling wine had had a breakthrough year and it was time for it to be taken to the wider world.

“It’s time for Tasmania to be much more courageous about telling [its sparkling wine] story and to start pouring these wines around the world,” the award-winning commentator said.

Mr Heazlewood said: "With the help of the wine-makers, Wine Tasmania, Tourism Tasmania, Wine Australia and the Tasmanian Department of State Growth, Mr Stelzer turned that notion into a reality.

"Getting all the méthode tasmanoise wines through United States Customs was an heroic feat in itself.

"Tyson is a wonderful friend for Tasmania."

Petuna contributed seafood and Greenhams provided beef to make sure Tasmania's food capabilities were also on show for New Yorkers during the two days of tastings.

The exercise prompted many buyers and sommeliers to say the Tasmanian cuvées should be more widely available in the United States.

Mr Stelzer said: "In a month when New York City was inundated with tastings and events, we were delighted by the attendance of both our travel trade and lifestyle media tasting and our wine trade and wine media tasting the following day.

"Key commentators and sommeliers committed big chunks of time to fully getting their heads around each and every Tasmanian cuvée.

"Tasmanian sparkling pioneer Andrew Pirie greeted every guest with a taste of his Apogee cuvée and was actively engaged in conversations for the entirety of both events around the past, present and future of Tasmanian sparkling, in his own magnificently authoritative yet eloquently humble way."

Mr Stelzer said showcasing four of the top (and most expensive) champagnes from the latest edition of his The Champagne Guide alongside Tasmanian sparkling proved to be strategic and fortuitous.

"Far from casting the Tasmanian cuvées in an inferior light, in fact the opposite effect occurred," he said.

"The time is now ripe for estates not yet on the ground [in the United States] to make plans to establish U.S. distribution, and many of these conversations are already underway."

Carol Duval-Leroy's positive exclamation was the strongest endorsement of foreign sparkling wines Mr Stelzer had ever heard from a champenoise.

"Carol is never one to use superlatives lightly," Mr Stelzer added.

The influential Chuck Hayward was full of praise for Tasmanian sparkling wine, generally, and was especially impressed with Ed Carr's House of Arras cuvées.

"The House of Arras can legitimately be declared Australia’s best producer of sparkling wine. Indeed, their best wines are world-class and easily rival what the French can do," Hayward wrote.

"It’s the various late disgorged bottlings that comprise the peak of the portfolio that shock and delight the palate. They show the classic toasty and autolytic qualities that champagne enthusiasts crave, placed upon a notable yet finely hewn palate.

"Those characteristics, expansive and coiled, persist on the slowly expanding back palate and all these qualities came through in the 2003 Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged Brut, shown for the first time ever in the U.S."

To extend the influence of the New York events, Mr Stelzer arranged for four dozen leftover unopened bottles to be forwarded to key U.S. media people who had not been able to attend.

Mr Stelzer was again a central figure at November's Effervescence festival.

The fourth staging of Effervescence Tasmania – the annual celebration of méthode tasmanoise – began with a venture southward from its Launceston base for a food and fizz experience at the Frogmore Estate vineyard in the Coal River Valley.

At a dinner at Launceston's Stillwater Restaurant the following evening, Mr Stelzer again presented Tasmania’s finest sparkling alongside several top champagnes.

Attendees had the opportunity to try the two side-by-side while enjoying a matched menu.

The festival also included Tasmanian sparkling master-classes, a Bruny Island cheese and sparkling master-class and a Grand Tasting in the popular setting of Josef Chromy Wines.

Organisers described the Grand Tasting as "a decadent garden party like no other".

Josef Chromy Wines Chief Winemaker and General Manager, Jeremy Dineen, told The Examiner that between 300 and 400 people had tested wine from 15 leading producers and enjoyed picnics in the gardens.

Vim Arts and Events founder Jane Forrest, whose business provides support to Effervescence, said about 10,000 polished glasses had been used at the various venues.

The festival wound up on a Sunday with a recovery brunch, a lunch by award-winning chef Jacques Reymond and a tasting tour of vineyards, dubbed the Tamar Experience.

Guests visited Jansz, Clover Hill, and Delamere wineries, where they could sit back, relax, and soak up the sun while enjoying a glass.

As James Halliday wrote in The Australian's Weekend Magazine in November: "If you're serious about sparkling wine with similar complexity to champagne, Tasmania wins game, set and match."

Image courtesy of the South China Morning Post

5 December 2017, Edition 190

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

Brand Tasmania

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