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The Swan Valley Sparkles

6 November 2018

By Alf Bock

Sparkling wine sings of celebration. There is nothing to compare to a chilled glass of crisp bubbly to celebrate a special day, and the Swan Valley has a great array of these to help you do just that. Then again, sparkling wine doesn’t need a special day, because just sipping it makes your day special.

Dorham Mann, son of legendary Swan Valley winemaker, Jack Mann, has been producing sparkling wine from his small winery in Baskerville since 1987. He opens at the beginning of August each year and closes when the stock is gone, making 1 August a date to note for lovers of sparkling wine.

He has two in the range; Rosé Brut, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, has a delicate blush, with aromas of strawberries leaping from the glass along with the yeasty notes that characterise sparkling wine made in the Méthode Champenoise (or Traditionelle), and a fine, dry, lingering palate. His other wine is made from a unique white Cabernet variety which was discovered and developed on the property. Cygne Blanc (White Swan) has lifted honey aromas, accompanied by yeasty notes and with apple hints on the mid palate, finishing very dry.

Mann’s neighbours Upper Reach have a Sparkling Chardonnay of note while you should not overlook those of Faber, Pinelli, Olive Farm, Mandoon and Garbin Estate, to name but a few of the excellent bubbles to be found in the Valley.

Yuri Berns at Sittella is working on a 10 year plan to have the winery recognized as one of the best sparkling makers in the country. And with Tyson Stelzer, the recognized international expert on champagne and sparkling wine singing their praises, Sittella is delivering on this aim. Their flagship Marie Christien Lugten Grand Vintage is a multi-award winner, made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a heady bouquet of toasted brioche and citrus flowers; the palate creamy and silky, with flavours of lemons and stonefruit. Others in their very impressive collection include Cuvée Rosé NV Brut; Cuvée Blanc NV Brut; Chenin Blanc Méthode Traditionelle and coming soon Avant-Garde Blanc de Blancs NV. They also turn out a very tidy Sparkling Shiraz, just the ticket for Christmas Day.

For something a little different, Jane Brook have a sparkling Chenin infused with genuine gold leaf adding even more of a celebratory note, while the House of Honey & Meadery offers a sparkling white infused with honey mead.

Pétillant-Naturel or sparkling wines made in the Méthode Ancestrale, where the wine is bottled before primary fermentation resulting in unfiltered, unfined, cloudy wines, are becoming more popular with younger wine makers, and Paul Hoffman from Swan Valley Wines has produced a beauty in the Valée du Venom Chenin Blanc. This has aromas of apples, pears and yeast, while the palate is all crunchy green apples and stone fruit. Worth seeking out.

The Swan Valley has a sparkling style for everyone from red, white, dry to sweeter styles; it is truly a valley of sparkling delight. Take the time to visit and see what you can discover.