New kid sparkles on the block
Helen Coburn highlights how Tasmanian wine producers have realised that sparkling wines are the way forward as high profit moneymakers
13 August 2014
As European makers of sparkling wines attempt to beat off the wave of competition from Italian prosecco, they will be less than thrilled to learn that this year more than 33% of Tasmania’s grape crop will be made into sparkling wine. In fact, it’s the third year running that Tasmania has chosen to put a large proportion of its grapes into bubbly and this is entirely due to rising global demand.
At one time seen as a way of disposing of poorly ripened grapes, sparkling wine is now regarded by Tasmanian producers as a high profit, fine wine, offering them an opportunity to challenge top sparkling makers in Europe and New Zealand. Viticultural practice and grape selection have become much more focused as growers have moved toward producing quality grapes especially for sparkling wine. Styles are predominantly dry and made using the same methods as the champenois.
The only fly in the ointment this year is that the size of Tasmania’s grape crop will be around 45% down on 2013. Wet, blustery weather impeded flower set in the spring, reducing yields significantly almost everywhere. That’s just a temporary setback, though, and while Tasmanian bubbly will remain small in production terms, quantities could be set to double over the next few years.