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Sparkling Red Wine

One of Australia’s greatest gifts to the world of wine is serious sparkling reds. Yet for many they are still the great unknown. While high quality Ch...

One of Australia’s greatest gifts to the world of wine is serious sparkling reds. Yet for many they are still the great unknown. While high quality Champagne and sparkling wines are the go-to choice for celebrations around the world, sparkling red is more-often-than-not forgotten, in part because there are only a handful of regions around the world that make it.

Sparkling reds are produced in a very similar manner to Champagne and other sparkling wines with the main difference that they are made using red grapes, rather than white. Essentially there are two very different methods of production: the tank method, that is quite simple and makes fruit forward wines made for early drinking. Or Methode Traditionelle - bottle fermented wines, with much higher complexity and longevity, as is seen in Champagne.

For tank fermented wines, such as entry level Sparkling Shiraz and Lambrusco, the wines are fermented under pressure and bottled young without spending years on yeast lees to gain complexity.

The production of the best sparkling reds, such as Sparkling Shiraz from Great Western in Victoria, is a much more involved process. High quality old vine Shiraz is picked and fermented as it would be for a normal red wine. It is then refermented, this time in bottle, where it sits for years on yeast lees gaining not only exceptional complexity but also giving a finer bead of bubble. One of the great secrets of Sparkling Shiraz is its ability to age - the combination of acidity, tannin, fruit power and bubbles under pressure making for a very slow ageing process.

Another Sparkling red although in quite a different style that should not be forgotten is Lambrusco from Northern Italy. Sourced from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, where Parmesan cheese originates from, it is a tank fermented wine that is gently sweet and easy drinking style that, while fruity, is also a superb food wine. It is also a wine that, surprisingly, matches beautifully both with spaghetti Bolognese and Parmigiano Reggiano.

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