Yarra Valley Sparkling Wines
The business of sparkling wine can be a bit tough for producers outside of the traditional regions. Champagne has a huge industry, with enormous numbers both in production and sales, and of course the accompanying marketing and promotion. Other sparkling wines live in the shadow of the historical and entrenched Champagne, lacking even a truly snappy name due to trademark laws. While not often considered as a category by themselves, the sparkling wines of the Yarra Valley are excellent and worth some attention.
Sparkling producers in the Yarra Valley have the benefit of building on tradition and heritage with the freedom to innovate. As a cool climate region similar to North-Eastern France, they are able to grow great quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for making classic blend and Blanc de Blancs style sparkling wines. However there are no restrictions, and producers are able to experiment with other grapes that suit the region.
While still an underdog in the world market, the Yarra Valley first saw international attention in the mid-1980s when Champagne House Moët & Chandon expanded their international interests into Australia. The big name backing brought a confidence that other producers could make, and sell, world-class sparkling wines.
While hewing closely to the traditions of their parent company, Domaine Chandon has branched out from the traditional blends to include some unique Australian style wines, such as their Sparkling Pinot Shiraz. Chandon remains the leader in sparkling, with a huge range and production compared with others. Their cellar door is a deluxe experience befitting of their big, international luxury brand identity.
The Yarrabank cuvee from Yering Station similarly has French involvement; with Champagne house Veuve A. Devaux assisting in its conception and development. The Yarrabank is perhaps not as widely known as their neighbours Chandon, but it has received numerous plaudits since the first vintage in 1993. This wine would not be out of place in a line up of classic sparkling wines, with crisp apple acidity, creamy mouthfeel and a touch of brioche.
A further link from France is Dominique Portet, whose Brut Rosé Non Vintage is a lively and excellent example of sparkling from the Yarra Valley. With 20% Pinot Meunier in the blend, this is a style that few in Australia attempt and even fewer succeed as well as Portet. Last year the wine received a spot in James Halliday’s top 100, demonstrating the growing appreciation for Australian sparkling styles.