It’s late Spring and I am standing, shivering in a Tasmanian vineyard – the home of Jansz Methode Tasmanoise. Bass Strait sits close by and the wind is driving hard off the water and up the Pipers River Valley. The vines are looking battered thanks to the hammering they get from the wind but decades in this place also has made them hardy – and home to some of the country’s finest sparkling wines from Jansz.
But Tasmania is no one trick pony and in the last ten years it has become seriously hot property. For many years Tasmania languished, not quite living up to its potential, but that has all changed and the local wines are now in demand around the world, particularly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. But perhaps its strongest offer is the local Sparkling wines, which in the best cases can match it with the top wines in France.
There are many regions around the world doing their best to make wines similar to Champagne but arguably Tasmania gets closest of all. One of the keys is its very cool climate that is not only surrounded by oceans but is also often at the mercy of icy winds from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. With little protection from the elements Tasmania is also one of the world’s most difficult places to grow grapes, creating highly concentrated wines.
Another feature of the best Tasmanian sparkling wines is that their winemaking closely follows that of Champagne. Handpicked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruits are treated gently and bottle fermented with extended time on their yeast lees. It is this long aging that makes the greatest sparkling wines on the planet.
Jansz was launched in 1986 by Heemskerk, aided by the iconic Champagne house – Louis Roederer, and is now owned by the Hill-Smith family of Yalumba fame. Its home vineyards are in the small, hilly and picturesque Pipers River region, on Tasmania’s North-Easterly coast. The close proximity to Bass Strait and altitude makes this a particularly ideal region for sparkling wines but it is also the lengths that the Jansz winemaking team go to guarantee that quality.
While many Non-Vintage sparkling wines are made without any impact of oak, twenty percent of the Jansz Premium Cuvée base wines are matured in old oak before the secondary ferment giving textural richness and detailed fruit while retaining classic Tassie brightness. For sparkling wines, in particular, it is many similar small steps in the vineyard and winemaking that make all the difference.
In addition to their Premium Cuvée, Jansz also have an enviable range of vintage wines, ideal for celebrations and the festive season. The most stunning is the 2014 Jansz Single Vineyard Chardonnay, of which only 2,772 bottles were produced. It is a beautifully elegant and stylish sparkling wine – bright, and fresh with great finesse and nougat-like complexity that would make the perfect start to any Christmas Day celebration.
Images supplied by Jansz
First published in the Brisbane News