Balgownie Estate, Black Label Sparkling Shiraz 2008
While it may be the French who can lay claim to producing the best “Méthode Champenoise” (sparkling white that is bottle fermented) white wines in their “Champagne” region, I doubt that many countries can produce a better sparkling red than Australia. After all, our Shiraz and Cabernet grapes are amongst the world’s best and with a bit of flair and artistry on the part of the vigneron, producing a sparkling red of an international standard seems a relatively small step for a talented winemaker to take. And perhaps predictably, it was some Sunshine Coast locals, Des and Rod Forrester and their mate, Bill Freeman whose Balgownie Estate Black Label Sparkling Shiraz is putting the sparkling red style on the viticultural map.
Made from grapes sourced from the Bendigo and Heathcote regions, the 2008 vintage is as bright as a button in the glass but shows those rich, deep and ripe characters that make Australian Shiraz such an appealing wine to drink on its own. The balance is terrific as the fizzy environment allows the lifted raisinesque flavours to show their sweet berry best, yet a dry tannic handcuff restrains the back end and gives an appealing tightness to the finish. It might not be French, but it’s eminently drinkable and a bubbly to savour.
I might be enjoying it with an Asian stir-fry, but at around $26 a bottle, I reckon it’s the perfect summer compromise for the red wine drinking aficionado.