By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
Tyson Stelzer has released his Australian Sparkling Report 2017, presenting an account of the Australian sparkling market, and reviewing over 100 different bottles of the nation’s cuvées across various subcategories.
In the report, Stelzer proclaims 2016 as the year Australian sparkling came of age, with the category dominating the awards handed out at several prestigious wine events throughout the year.
But with 15.2 million bottles of Australian sparkling exported in 2014-15, and 18.4 million bottles imported in the same period, Stelzer suggests the Australian sparkling market is falling short of it’s true potential globally.
“The importance of the sparkling category in Australia and the world right now cannot be overstated, representing one of the most important and fastest growing beverage categories on earth. But Australia falls far short of its potential in the big picture of global sparkling. Australia’s sparkling imports grew at almost double the rate of its domestic sparkling sales last year, registering impressive 8 per cent growth to represent almost 16 per cent of all imports,” states Stelzer.
Stelzer notes that that while the quality of Australian sparkling is as good as any overseas equivalents, Australians continue to overlook local drops for overseas imports.
“Supermarket wine retailers across the country report customers flocking through the doors expressly to buy champagne. You can now snap up a bottle of champagne under $25 any day of the week. And, frankly, cheap champagne is not worth drinking. Australia’s best cuvées at the same price run rings around it. Yet still they buy cheap champagne.
“There exists a stark and gaping disparity in the minds of Australian and global consumers between the perceived calibre of Australian sparkling wines and the true standard of the finest cuvées, evidenced more than ever this year by an incredible wine show trophy haul.”
As part of the report, Stelzer reviewed well over a hundred different sparkling wines, and awarded his Sparkling Wine of the Year to Seppelt’s Show Sparkling Limited Release Shiraz 2007, bestowing the sparkling red 97 points – the first time he has ever scored a sparkling that highly.
“Grand longevity is the key to this style, and even on release at a decade of age (eight years of which were spent on lees) the fruit of the Seppelt Great Western vineyard itself demands a long time yet to fully blossom. Enticingly poised, effortless, medium-bodied black cherry liqueur, black plum and blackberry fruit are here aplenty, framed in high cocoa dark chocolate, but the real distinction of this cuvée lies in its impeccably mineral, powder-fine tannins.
“Such enduring structure would crush the spirit of any mere mortal cuvée, but here it is neither confronting nor dominating propelling a thrilling finish that reverberates long with cherry liqueur and dark chocolate.”
Seppelt winemaker, Adam Carnaby, was proud to have the sparkling Shiraz rated so highly, and made note of its respected ancestry.
“Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz has a lineage dating back to the 1890s in Great Western in Victoria, when Charles Pierlot at Seppelt –or Irvines Cellars as it was known then – made some of the world’s first Sparkling Shiraz wines.”
The report also highlights Australia’s best sparkling regions, with Stelzer naming Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and King Valley as his top three regions.
The comprehensive report can be downloaded here.