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JOHN ROZENTALS reckons that when it comes to premium sparkling wine, the French still have what it takes.

February 22, 2019 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australian sparkling wines — and please reserve the ‘Champagne’ tag for the real stuff — have come a helluva long way over the past couple of decades, with brands such as Ninth Island, Croser and the best Seppelt stuff recognised as almost as good as what the French produce.

Mostly the gap has been closed by use of classic Champagne varieties such as chardonnay and pinot noir, and growing them in decidedly cool climates where they retain their natural acidity and develop refined flavours.

You’ll notice that I say ‘almost as good’. Yep, the French bubblies, especially those made in Champagne, retain a slim edge, partly I guess because of centuries-old maturation techniques and much more ready access to aged blending material.

And except for the really top Champagnes the price difference appears to be shrinking.

I recently tried, for example, a bottle of Champagne Duperrey Premier Cru NV Brut.

It retails for about $40, on par with the top Australian fizz but more than I or probably most others are prepared to outlay.

But if someone has had a win on the neddies and is brandishing a bottle around the office do yourself a favour and grab a glass of the stuff.

It will be well worth any kowtowing you need to do, with plenty of French class — lots of yeasty, bready characters highlighted by distinctive creaminess. Yum.


Angullong 2018 Pinot Grigio: With this release the Crossing family celebrates 21 years of growing grapes above the Belubula River in the Orange district. It’s a crisp, racy dry white with plenty of natural acidity and is a great match for half a dozen freshly opened Sydney rock oysters.

Cat Amongst the Pigeons 2018 Fat Cat Eden Valley Chardonnay: The Eden Valley, perched above the warmer Barossa Valley, is one of Australia’s renowned riesling areas — and pretty handy for chardonnay too. This complex dry white shows plenty of melony, white-peachy fruit flavours married with butterscotchy nuances gained by fermentation and maturation in French oak.


Cat Amongst the Pigeons 2017 Fat Cat Barossa Valley Shiraz: South Australia’s warm Barossa Valley has long been a prime source of richly flavoured shiraz grapes in this country, as typified by this long-living dry red. It shows excellent balance of plummy, spicy fruit flavours and supple tannins, and is a great match for a range of red-meat dishes and for mushroom-based vegetable stews.

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