Adelaide Hills – Sparkling Spring Festival

Humans are inherently attracted to shiny/sparkly objects, it is why diamonds are a girl’s best friend and why at thirteen I opted for a blue, glittery dental plate. Because puberty isn’t hard enough…

A study in 2004 linked this attraction to our innate need for finding fresh water, and shiny objects mimic its sheen. Apparently, the motive of my mouth wear selection – it certainly explains the blue. Fifteen years later, the sparkling objects I gravitate to are in bottle form. And in a way it satisfies this ‘innate need’ for hydration.

Despite my attraction to Champagne, there are some financial barriers that come into play. A trick I have learned, like putting tap water in a Voss glass bottle, is Sparkling wine provides a comparable substitute. Seeing as that includes every wine region outside of Champagne’s 34,000-hectare perimeter, there is no shortage of choice. A fact to keep for your quiz night, since 2010, it has been illegal for any winemaker beyond this famed, French region to label their wine as Champagne. That said, if a Nugent overheard someone ordering a Bird in Hand Champagne, I am dubious of the correction.

The way I see it, ‘Bubbles’ is like a family. Champagne, the golden child and eldest, received helicopter parenting – strict rules on how to prune, which grapes to use and the minimum alcohol content. Whilst sparkling is like the youngest child – creative and rebellious. Look no further than the Adelaide Hills for proof. A set of five wines recently reviewed for the region’s inaugural Sparkling Spring Festival showed what it means to be the black sheep.

Artwine Prosecco – RRP: $27
Lemon yellow in the glass, followed by a lively performance of greedy bubbles that take over the entire flute. A whiff of childhood nostalgia with canned fruit salad in juice – peaches, pears, pineapple and what we are led to believe are cherries. I still hold my reservations. The brain is left momentarily confused as the palate fails to follow, instead of Golden Circle (or those who were SPC) there is bright, Granny Smith apple acidity and a lemon pith bitterness softened by meringue-like bubbles. Its dry, almost chalky finish calls for a tray of mini, pastry covered appetizers – think quiches and pinwheels.

Tomich Blanc de Noir – RRP: $25
An apricot salmon backdrop to highlight the thin lines of bead that reach the surface like brocade fireworks. Like walking through Beerenberg’s strawberry farm – when the fruit is at its ripest and the contents of your basket does not reflect the amount picked. IOU Paech family. The strawberries weave with aromatic threads of nectarines, peach cobbler and Brazil nuts. Whilst there is a lusciousness of ripe stone fruits and honeycomb on the palate, that is shortly forgotten as a zesty line of acid succeeds. The mousse wanes to a nostalgia of Beacon’s Pink Fizzer lollies and their lingering sherbet finish. A real crowd pleaser.

Paracombe Trio of Pinots – RRP: $28
When marketing and winemaking are left to their own devices, a showcase of that fore-mentioned creative rebellion and the associated heart tremor for any helicopter parent. Onion-skin hued with a fluorescent pink rim, the scene for staggered yet consistent perlage – like the love of Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big. Paracombe, I hope your avant-garde practices permit a Sex in the City reference! Its delicate perfume, a display of Spring blossoms (how apt), pomegranate arils and cranberries. Or keeping in theme… Cosmopolitans. Hints of its lemon garnish carry through to the palate, marrying stewed peach flavours and Wimbledon’s famed strawberries & cream. In my notes I had “like licking the cream centre of a Monte Carlo biscuit” – take that as you will. Zippy acidity, the maestro for a dry, well-balanced finish, proving that three is not a crowd.

Howard Vineyards Blanc De Blancs – RRP: $35
Mineral water translucence with the faintest shade of straw. A delicate film of bead converges at the rim – revealing the most refreshing nose of green apples, crisp white nectarine, and lemon blossom. On paper, this wine was a list of contradictory adjectives – acidity that was ‘soft yet razor-like’ and effervescence that was both ‘youthful’ and ‘elegant’. Howard Vineyards appear to have successfully captured the best of both worlds. Thanks to soft phenolics, the inside of your cheeks act as a catchment for the wine’s lingering freshness. Imagine holding lemon gelati in your mouth long enough to feel it melt. I dare you to stop at just one glass.

Cobbs Hill Méthode Traditionelle – RRP: $62
Have you ever splurged on luxury accommodation and walked in thinking “I could get use to this”? Méthode Traditionelle Sparkling provides a similar comfortable hedonism. Golden yellow with beads the size of hundreds and thousands fluttering up the glass. A perceivable warmth thanks to rich aromas – grilled peach, pistachio and crumpets covered in creamed honey. The palate equally as opulent with a parquetry of flavours, similar to the Italian dessert Cassata (a sponge cake with sweetened ricotta centre, pistachio marzipan, covered in glacé lemon and clementine). The finish is soft and creamy, with a lasting nutty honey imprint. Cobbs Hill suggests pairing this wine with creamy cheeses, but I think this deserves to go one step further – a creamy, spinach Cob loaf – correction Cobb* loaf.

In many ways Sparkling wine reflects Spring – in the bottle it appears dormant, like Winter’s bare branches. However, when the seal is broken, the phenomenon of perlage is like the season’s inflorescence and a nose to match. There is no place that exhibits both with such beauty quite like the Adelaide Hills.



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