Bay of Fires Sparkling Tasmanian Cuvee Brut NV

A slight hiatus in wine reviews and this week not a still Chardonnay. I actually did have one lined up for you but unfortunately a bit of early winter flu very much got in the way of constructive wine tasting. No point in bringing you a tasting note that reads “I felt sick, the bottle of wine sat open in the fridge for three days, it tasted OK”.

So this week I bring you a sparkling wine from Tasmania and at just under 44% Chardonnay it almost fits the Chardonnay brief. This non vintage wine from Bay of Fires is a blend of the three traditional Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir (48.5%), Chardonnay (43.9%) and Pinot Meunier (6%). The wine is made by Fran Austin and Ed Carr (Ed Carr of Arras fame) with grapes coming from some of Tasmania’s best growing areas. This is a good pedigree to start with!

The wine is pale gold with plenty of fine bubbles* in the glass. The nose is quite pronounced with yeasty, bready characters, a touch of citrus and also strawberries and cream. On the palate there is good acidity and the citrus is more pronounced than on the nose – it’s definitely lemon. There are also bread and dairy characters. The back label suggests yoghurt and if you think of a natural, unflavoured and unsweetened yoghurt, this is a pretty accurate description. The wine has good length and the palate finishes with some suggestion of savoury characters.

I really liked this wine and while its RRP is $31.50 you can pick it up for under $30 if you do some research. I haven’t had my favourite sub $30 sparkling wine for a while so I’m not sure if this knocks it off its pedestal or not (yes, that does sound like an excuse to go out and buy more sparkling, doesn’t it?). Definitely a good wine and reasonable value for money.

* The important thing with bubbly is not the size of the bubbles per se but how long they hang around. The smaller the bubbles (the ‘bead’ in winespeak) in theory the longer they’ll take to dissipate.

Wines for Christmas



Disclaimer:  I was sent the four wines by Wine Selectors.

When Wine Selectors got in touch and asked me if I’d like to try some of their wines they didn’t really have to ask twice!  This was particularly the case because NOT ONE of the wines they offered to send was a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.  Not that I have anything against Kiwi Savvie B but I really don’t understand why Australians drink so much of it when they should be supporting local products.

So, if you’re guilty of always reaching for the NZ Sav Blanc – PLEASE READ ON!

And if you’re not, please read on anyway, and we’ll have a chat about wine and food and Christmas.

Let’s begin with a wine that needs no food at all – but, as far as Christmas goes, if you must do food, think breakfast.  I was sent the Peterson’s Sparkling White NV.  This wine was very pale and, on the palate, it was crisp with some good acidity and TONS of citrus.  It’s not a particularly complex wine (and let’s be reasonable – if you buy a case it’s $9 a bottle) so I wouldn’t try pairing it with food.  Keep it as an aperitif but it would also be perfect for breakfasts and brunches and anyone who wants a Bucks Fizz.

Next up we had the Sauvignon Blanc replacements:  The Lions Den Barossa Valley Babylon Block Riesling 2010 and the Jackson’s Hill The Under Block 2011 Semillon from the Hunter Valley.

Both wines were citrussy – the Riesling lemon and the Semillon lime.  In terms of acidity, the Riesling outshone the Semillon, making it a better partner for any richer Christmas dishes.  Have the Semillon with your oysters and prawns and save the Riesling for your baked ham or roast pork, or even your Boxing Day fish and chips.  I’d also opt for pairing the Riesling with roast turkey, if you’re having one and really want to drink white.

The final wine was the Brokenwood The Bentley’s Boot 2010 Pinot Noir.  While this wine showed the raspberry aromas and flavours that are pretty typical of Australian Pinot Noir it also had a substantial green component – think raspberry or strawberry leaf.  There was a bit of spice on the palate and some reasonably grippy tannins.  We had this with confit duck legs (yes, I know – pairing duck with Pinot Noir shows such imagination …) and this wine would work really well with your turkey.  There’s also no reason why you couldn’t drink it with ham or pork, but I do think there the Riesling would be the better option.

So there’s some ideas for your Christmas drinking … hope you find them helpful!