Chester creates a real sparkler

THIS is a tale of an Australian wine style that has a small, dedicated following. Yet the general public has failed to embrace these wines of the moon.

To explain my lunar connection, most enthusiasts enjoy sparkling red at breakfast as the moon ends its nightly vigil.

Or, on the other hand, later at night, to complete a sumptuous feast where the participants can’t decide on the last-post wine of the night and the man in the moon is watching.

Strange rituals perhaps, for a very different wine style, one that can be firmly stamped “Australian Made” or Aussie designed.

Once known as sparkling burgundy, but now having had to shed the generic title of the old historic French province, you are more likely to see a grape varietal title as a replacement.

One of the better known makers are Seppelt and they now call their affordable version, which I believe remains the benchmark – original sparkling shiraz. – a wine style they have been producing since the 1830s.

Considering the latest release is 1995, the company can claim a remarkable history.

The formula of the sparkling reds varies from growing region-to-region and winemaker-to-winemaker. Certainly, this is a wine on which winemakers love to stamp their individual mark and because there are few marketing rules established they design some remarkable wines.

Take the d’Arenberg The Peppermint Paddock sparkling red chambourcin as an example. Winemaker Chester Osborn has had some fun putting this beauty together and it’s a very different bottle of bubbles.

I reckon this is a wine to have with Christmas pudding.

It’s an unexploded bomb of flavours and sweetness yet a firm acid backbone joins with tannins to deceive your palate into thinking the red is almost dry.

In reality, there are 24.2 grams of residual sugar per litre, which is a sweet wine when you consider a dry wine might hold five to seven grams.

This sparkling red has impressive cellaring ability. Immediately, you let the cork loose, a beautiful fluffy mousse of post office red to Glory soccer purple appears, a delightful vision with the ability to tickle your nose as you enjoy.

None of the books in my agronomy library can tell me anything about the oddball grape called chambourcin the Mclaren Vale sparkling is made from.

Strangely, nor can the wine company which speak of the hybrid almost as if whispering it’s of unknown parentage. But apparently the Peppermint Paddock is a real challenge to grow traditional grape varieties on and only chambourcin is quite comfortable there.

The base wine is a blend on older wines from 1993 through to 1999 and the oak treatment is gentle, spending a nine-month sentence in large old oak vats. Adding to the vivacious complexity is the five-year-old vintage fortified shiraz it was liquored with.

Medium bodied, you will have tasted few red wines like it.

Spices leap at you with tastes like cinnamon and nutmeg before rich berry flavours take over to lead the adventure through the elongated palate ending with a light, gentle tannin finish.

Hold it in your mouth, drinking slowly to gain all the curious character of this idiosyncratic Australian wine.

Then simply have another spoonful of Christmas pudding.

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