These days, many Australian festive tables are adorned with a bottle of sparkling Shiraz. This uniquely Australian style has been made since the mid-1900s, so when Best’s released the Great Western Sparkling Shiraz in the 1950s, it felt like a natural progression for our Shiraz production and a great opportunity to represent the sparkling style of the Great Western region. It has become a very popular wine in the range.
After a pause in production, there was an uprising of sorts that saw Best’s Sparkling Shiraz brought back to life. In 2009, when Viv and Chris Thomson were away on their annual winter holiday, the team was handed a too-good-to-knock-back opportunity to re-launch the sparkling red. Viv wasn’t convinced the Aussie drinking population was ready to embrace the red bubbles, nor was he overly excited about bringing this wine back from the dead 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 bring it back and release a small amount.
By the time Viv and Chris returned from holiday, the bottles were already moving off the shelf and we crowned our 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 picked early in the season, fermented in vats and a small amount of oak barrels. The wine is savoury and of medium body, retaining freshness as well as intensity over time. Best’s Winemaker, Justin Purser, is also a sparkling Shiraz believer, and has instigated his own changes to the sparkling production process, including using aged liqueur muscat from old Best’s casks as dosage liqueur.
This wine is certainly an acquired taste, but despite its distinctiveness it often sells out in the lead-up to Christmas, as it’s not produced in huge volumes.
Discover more about this uniquely Australian wine.