Our first sparkling wine was the 2009 Blanc de Blancs, made from selected Chardonnay clones from our Bizot Vineyard, in the heart of the Piccadilly Valley. In 2016 we started managing a few Pinot Noir vineyards in the Piccadilly Valley, and began making the Natural Réserve sparkling.
We manage all our vineyards in the Piccadilly Valley ourselves and do not buy fruit. All our vineyards in Piccadilly Valley are cane pruned (Guyot Double), and are pruned by hand. We limit the use of herbicides by controlling undervine growth mechanically. We limit the use of chemicals sprays to sulphur and copper and some preventive fungal sprays.
We manually manage trellis and shoot growth during the growing season to optimise sunshine in the canopy. All our fruit is handpicked and delivered to the Tapanappa winery in Piccadilly Valley for processing. Our viticultural expertise in Piccadilly Valley allows us to produce the finest fruit, and to achieve distinctive balance in our sparkling wines.
The fruit is chilled to 2-5 degrees celsius before being pressed as whole bunches. We retain only the light pressing (approximately 550L per tonne). The very fine juice is then fermented in barrel for the Blanc de Blancs, and in tank or in barrel for the Natural Réserve. The base wine goes through full malolactic fermentation after alcoholic fermentation is completed.
After alcoholic and malolactic fermentations are finished, the base wine is left on full lees in tank or in barrel, with no added sulphur, until it is tiraged in spring.
After tirage, the wine is aged in bottle for at least 18 months for the Natural Réserve, and for at least 3 years for the Blanc de Blancs before being disgorged.
At disgorging we decide on dosage levels based on each individual wine.
All tiraging and disgorging is done at our winery, so we have full control of every step of the process, from the vineyard to the finished bottle.
There are several different methods of producing sparkling wine commonly used in Australia. The most prestigious method is the one developed in Champagne, which involves second fermentation and aging in bottle, followed by disgorgement and dosage with a high concentration sugar liqueur. Popular and cheaper is the Transfer Method which also involves second fermentation in bottle before disgorging en masse to a stainless-steel tank for dosage, filtration and bottling under pressure, creating a more homogenous and commercially “safe” product. In descending order of quality, the Charmat Method (secondary fermentation in a pressurised tank followed by bottling under pressure), and carbonation are also both commonly used.
Since 2010, Australia hasn’t been able to use the name “Champagne” or “Méthode Champenoise” to market its sparkling wines made following the “Champagne” method, in a legitimate bid from the Champagne region to protect its highly regulated process and its authenticity.
Since then, many Australian sparkling wine producers have reverted to the unsatisfactory moniker “traditional method” or “méthode traditionnelle” to market wines made in the Champagne method. Unsatisfactory, because there are no rules that govern the use of the names “traditional method” or “méthode traditionelle”, so they may be used on the label of a sparkling wine produced by any of the methods outlined above. It is also proven that the consumer does not differentiate between methods and would often buy a bottle of sparkling wine believing that is was bottle fermented.