1989 Tasmania’s sparkling wine revival

Sparkling wine festival, Launceston region, Tasmania

Tasmania’s sparking wine revival began with the release of the 1989 Janz Traditional Method Sparkling. The Janz project was a collaborative venture between Heemskerk and the French Champagne house, Louis Roederer. The wine was made from the traditional champagne grape varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with secondary fermentation in the bottle. Since that time, Tasmania has become renowned for its sparkling wine, with sparkling accounting for around a third of the island state’s wine production.

It’s little known that Australia’s first known sparkling wine was produced in Tasmania, more than 160 years before Janz pioneered the revival. In 1827, the ex-convict turned vintner, Thomas Broughton, was advertising “grape wine made in imitation of champaigne”. His property at Prospect, in the Launceston region, was the state’s first commercial vineyard. However, over the following decades, wine-making declined in Tasmania, not to be revived until the 1970s. > A History of the Tasmanian Wine Industry

Meanwhile, sparkling wines were being produced in many wine-making regions on the Australian mainland from the middle of the 19th century and by the end of the century Australian sparkling wine was winning international awards. Notable among these were wines from Hans Irvine’s Great Western. He won an award in Bordeaux in 1895 with his 1893 Sparkling Burgundy and in 1900 his “Champagne” won the gold medal at the 1900 Paris exhibition.

Tasmania’s sparkling wine revival, and indeed the revival of the state’s wine industry as a whole, was linked to an increasing appreciation of the quality of cool climate wines. With Janz as the pioneer, many other makers followed.

Among them was Accolade Wine’s House of Arras. Created in 1995 by Ed Carr, Australia’s most awarded sparkling winemaker, the House of Arras has gone on to win many international awards. In 2021, the House of Arras ‘E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004’ was named the world’s best sparkling wine, ahead of French competitors from Champagne.

It seems Tasmania’s sparkling wine revival is complete.

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