Bubbly Diversity

Friday, November 13, 2020

Mention sparkling wine to most Aussie wine drinkers and they think of the “holy trinity”, Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/ Pinot Meunier (classic trio), which form the basis for Champagne and much of the world’s sparkling wine. However, there is much more diversity to sparkling wines. Even in Champagne they also allow, Pinot Blanc, Arbane, Petit Meslier and Pinot Gris at present and they are currently undertaking a ten year trial with seven “new” varieties, including Verdelho that could soon be used in making Champagne. Thus, by the end of this decade we could possibly see Champagne that has none of the “holy trinity” in it. One has to wonder if that would still really be Champagne or merely another French sparkling wine.

It should come as no surprise that there are some cracking sparkling wines made from all sorts of different grape varieties, for example: many of the great “Sekt” (sparkling) wines from Germany and Austria are Riesling-based, whilst the delightful “Cava” from Spain are mainly based on the ever so humble, white commercial varieties of Parellada and Xarel-lo and the more up market Macabeo (Viura) – they also allow Granacha, Monastrell (Mataro) and Subirat to be used. The sparkling wines of the UK, which are currently lighting up the wine world, are made mainly from the classic trio but also there are some great ones made from/including a number of newer hybrids that were bred specifically for such cold climates.

Here in Australia there are a number of wineries using other varieties for their sparkling wines, for example, in the Hunter Valley there are some wineries that make sparkling wines based on Semillon such as, Tyrrell’s Ashmans NV Brut. There are also sparkling wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and most recently, Mt Bera in the Adelaide Hills has produced a sensational sparkler from Grüner Veltliner. The Mt Bera NV ‘Ebullient Gruvee Cuvee’ is truly delightful!

An interesting new development is sparkling wines from the Netherlands. Unless you read my article, “The Dutch Touch”, in the May-June 2020 edition of WBM Magazine you are probably not aware that they produce wine in Holland. They do and being such a cool/cold climate they are starting to steer towards sparkling wines. I tasted a reasonable one in Amsterdam last November when I was over there for the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) and discovered that one of my fellow judges was about to release her first vintage sparkling wine Min Zeven 2018 Bruut & Bruizend. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 this year’s WBWE has been moved to a virtual mode, so there wasn’t an opportunity to taste this exciting new wine over there. However, she kindly posted me a bottle just before the limited release was all sold out and I have written about this in THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW which follows this posting.

Anyhow, the crux of the topic is that one should be adventurous and try white sparkling wines that are outside the “norm”, i.e. not made only from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. There are some sensational non-mainstream white sparklers out there (not to mention our world-class sparkling reds) and in any case the French “norm” could well be changing in the not too distant future.

Cheers, have a good week and enjoy a glass (or three) of great bubbles!

Article Link: The Dutch Touch

This Week's Wine Review:

This week’s wine is very rare indeed as this is the first release of a small batch, of Dutch sparkling wine from MIN ZEVEN – a small winery owned by Silvia Anthonj and her husband in the Netherlands that is named after its height from sea-level. The vineyard is located seven metres below sea level (which is hard to imagine) and is in what used to be an old river bed before Dutch land reclamations in the 1960s transformed it into a shell and sand filled fertile plain. The vineyard’s motto is, “Sustainable wine farming below sea level”.

Being in such a northerly latitude, the vineyard is planted to three cold resistant hybrids: Hibernal (cross between Riesling and Siebel 7053), Sauvignac (cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling) and Sauvignier Gris (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and a white variety called, Bronner).

The MIN ZEVEN 2018 BRUUT & BRUIZEND (which in Dutch means,  Outrageous & Roaring) was made via the “Méthode Traditionnelle” using the wild natural yeasts from the vineyard. No sulphites were added, it was not filtered and there was no “dosage” involved, making it a pure representation of the varieties used and the terroir.

The wine has a light straw-yellow colour, a gorgeous bouquet with traces of toffee apples, stewed apples and a splash of citrus. There are lime and green apples on the crispy, zippy palate. It is magnificent with the merest hint of a trace of salinity, luscious mouthfeel and fine mousse. The crisp, bright finish leaves the palate pleading for more of this fantastic, exciting sparkling wine.

Alas, that was the only bottle of the first vintage to make its way out of Europe, so I will have to wait patiently until November 2021 when again I will be (hopefully) judging in Amsterdam for the 2021 WBWE (World Bulk Wine Exhibition) Competition.

Cheers, have a great week and I urge you to consider trying and enjoying sparkling wines from outside the “norm” of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – there are some absolute crackers out there, waiting to be found.

Winery Link: www.minzeven.com/en/