There’s no denying that Sparkling Shiraz is a uniquely Australian drop. You can feel the festive season is imminent when new vintages are released. It’s a style that is particularly relevant here in Great Western, where we’ve been pioneering the method since the 1890s and putting this spectacular expression of sparkling wine on the international map. As one of the few producers making Sparkling Shiraz, we delve into all you need to know.
Sparkling Shiraz is one of Australia’s most iconic contributions to the wine world. First produced in Victoria over a century ago, this style unites the very best of the old and new world: our unparalleled Shiraz enhanced by the brilliant effervescence of sparkling wine.
For the uninitiated, Sparkling Shiraz is not quite as unusual as it may first appear. Most sparkling wines use a portion of red grapes – either Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or both – just like our 2016 C. M. T Méthode Traditionnelle. In Italy, sparkling red wine goes by the name Lambrusco, although it’s a different style to what we make here.
Sparkling Shiraz is now produced in a few Australian wine regions. There are the iconic producers who have made the style famous, and others starting to experiment with the style. It’s a particular favourite for wineries in the Grampians, like Seppelt. Other producers include Rockford Black Shiraz, Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red, Bleasdale Vineyards, and The Black Chook.
The process for making Sparkling Shiraz is similar to any other sparkling wine. There are a few ways to produce a sparkling wine but the pre-eminent process is called méthode traditionelle. The defining feature of this method is that fermentation occurs in each individual bottle. This method is the most expensive and time-consuming way to create a sparkling wine, however, it also yields the best results in terms of quality and complexity.
A well-made Sparkling Shiraz brings together the very best elements of Shiraz and sparkling wine. It has all the flavours of a great Shiraz – rich red berry fruits and spice – brightened and lifted by the effervescence of a sparkling wine.
Sparkling Shiraz should be served cold – the same way you would serve a sparkling white wine or Champagne.
Sparkling Shiraz is fantastic for food pairing. It pairs particularly well with rich and full flavoured dishes, such as glazed ham, roast lamb, pudding and dark chocolate. It is also an excellent match for harder to pair foods, like Peking duck or teriyaki salmon. It is also perfect with a wedge of vintage cheddar.
For those with a sweet tooth, try Maggie Beer's Sparkling Shiraz & Raspberry Jelly with Clotted Cream. For something more substantial, you can't go past Kylie Kwong’s famous deep-fried duck with Davidson’s plum sauce. Prefer a cocktail? Why not try Gourmet Traveller’s watermelon and boysenberry granita with melon and sparkling shiraz.
Sparkling Shiraz has been made in the Great Western region since the 1890's. When Best’s re-released the Great Western Sparkling Burgundy in the 1950s, it felt like a natural progression for our Shiraz production. Since it's re-introduction again in 2006 it has become one of our most popular wines!
After a pause in production, there was a small uprising that saw Best’s Sparkling Shiraz brought back to life. In 2006, when Viv and Chris Thomson were away on their annual winter holiday, the team were handed a too-good-to-knock-back opportunity to re-launch the sparkling red. Viv wasn’t convinced that Australia was ready to embrace red bubbles, nor was he overly excited about bringing this wine back after such a long hiatus. But returning this wine to the stables seemed like the right decision, so Best’s winemaker at the time, Adam Wadewitz, and the rest of the team made the call to release a small amount.
By the time Viv and Chris returned from holiday, the bottles were already moving off the shelves and the Best's team crowned this cheeky mutiny a roaring success.
Subsequent research on the style of sparkling shiraz in the region has been undertaken – including consultation with legendary winemakers such as Ian McKenzie – and over the last few years we’ve been able to identify specific vineyards that best lend themselves to the sparkling Shiraz style.
Best’s Shiraz grapes for sparkling wine are fermented in stainless steel and matured in large format oak. The wine is savoury and of medium body, retaining freshness as well as intensity over time. Best’s Winemaker, Justin Purser, is also a supporter of the sparkling Shiraz, and has instigated his own changes to the sparkling production process, including using aged liqueur muscat from old Best’s casks as the dosage liqueur.
You can try Best’s 2017 Great Western Sparkling Shiraz for yourself today BUY NOW.