In the words of 1960s crooner, Don Ho, “tiny bubbles in the wine make me happy make me feel fine”, and being all about living life to the full, we’ve decided to indulge in a glass or two of the bubbly stuff this year… but that doesn’t mean missing out on Pinot Noir.
Sparkling Pinot Noir is a delightful, decadent, slightly cheeky glass of bubbly, and while it’s easy to drink, this wine is actually one of the most technical to produce.
Jansz Tasmania Vigneron, Jennifer Doyle, said sparkling wines are complex because they need to be fermented twice – the first time to make the base wine and the second time around to make the bubbles (where all the fun is).
“To produce those fine bubbles and the creaminess that we all love in a sparkling wine, the second fermentation and then tirage maturation takes a minimum of three years – but I think we can all agree it is worth the wait,” Jennifer said.
And for Jennifer, this process all happens in a little corner known as ‘Sparkling Tasmania’, within the Pipers River region in the North East, where you’ll find the Jansz Tasmania Vineyard.
Since 2005, the winery has been producing Jansz Tasmania Vintage Rosé – one of the few 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wines coming from the island state.
“The desire for a sparkling Rosé has become increasingly popular over the last few years,” Jennifer said.
“Ours is a yummy drink – with luscious layers of vibrant red fruit, Turkish delight, savoury notes of blue cheese and truffles, and a beautiful fresh acidity.
“When we discovered that a particular patch of Pinot Noir grapes grown in our vineyard really lent themselves to a 100% Pinot sparkling it was an opportunity too good to pass up.
“The particular blocks the fruit is sourced from are north-facing on top of a hill, overlooking Bass Strait.
“It is quite exposed to the cold winds, but these conditions create beautiful flavours in the grapes.”
Jennifer said the traditional style of sparkling wine features 50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, like the Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée.
“The winemaking process for the Vintage Rosé only alters slightly to that of the Vintage Cuvée, but it varies greatly from a Pinot Noir table wine.
Sparkling in the making
“For the sparkling wines we pick the grapes in late-March, which is earlier than if they were being used in a table wine, because we are after slightly more acidity.
“When we use Pinot Noir grapes for a sparkling wine we take the skins off immediately so there is little colour picked-up in the base wine.
“Whereas for Pinot Noir table wine you are after that beautiful red colour and therefore the skins are left on the grapes during the fermentation.”
Once the base wine is made, the next step is the second fermentation.
“We begin the second fermentation when the base wine is at 11-11.5% alcohol, so at this stage it’s a lower alcohol percentage than if you were producing a table wine, in order to maintain that fresh natural acidity,” Jennifer said.
“The base wine is put into bottles where sugar and yeast is added, to create the bubbles.
“It is then left lying on its side for up to three years, which also allows a creaminess to develop in the wine from the extended contact with the yeast lees.
Riddle me this?
Once the wine has fermented Jennifer then undertakes a process called “riddling”.
“This is a gradual process of turning the bottle from being on its side to being on its head, to move all of the dead yeast solids to the neck of the bottle,” she said.
“These solids are removed by freezing the neck of the bottle. The crown seal is then taken off and the frozen solids are removed in a process named disgorgement.
“Because the bottle is no longer full we’ll then add what we call the “dosage” – some sugar to add a hint of sweetness and a little bit of table Pinot Noir, to create a beautiful argyle pink colour.”
It’s all about the taste
With five or less words Jennifer describes the Jansz Tasmania Vintage Rosé as rose petal, argyle pink and strawberry.
Her favourite meals to enjoy her sparkling with are barbecued Tassie sardines on crostini, quail served with a pomegranate and rocket salad, and for dessert a rose petal jelly.
Sounds good to us – so to get all that sparkling fun, be sure you pop a bottle of sparkling Pinot Noir with your next meal!