It may not be the greatest show on Earth just yet, but for fans of premium sparkling wine Effervescence Tasmania has ranked highly on the list of must-see-and-do events over recent years.
After a COVID-induced hiatus in 2020, the good news is that the Tasmanian wine industry's annual sparkling wine showcase is back on track in 2021 with the event's busy program scheduled to take place on the weekend of November 5 to 7.
Now in its seventh year, the Launceston-based festival offers guests an opportunity to sample more than 50 sparkling wines produced around Tasmania, many poured by the people who grew and made them.
Carefully curated wine, food, music and comedy talent suggest Effervescence Tasmania will be no one-trick pony this year.
For Josef Chromy Wines, it will be getting back to what they have done so successfully since October 2014 - hosting the small army of sparkling wine enthusiasts who descend on the Relbia site for the event's renowned masterclasses and 'grand tasting'.
More than 700 tickets were sold for the inaugural Effervescence Tasmania.
By 2016, the two-day extravaganza had been extended to four days, with ticket sales approaching 1200 and all scheduled events sold out.
In 2018 and 2019, Effervescence Tasmania cast its net statewide, with two weeks of wine-related indulgence with some 40 per cent of attendees from interstate and overseas.
The event is no small beer for wine industry small fry like Delamere Vineyards at Pipers Brook, in the state's north-east.
"Effervescence Tasmania is a fantastic event for producers and consumers alike," Delamere co-owner and sparkling winemaker Fran Austin says.
"It's great to have an initiative like this shine a spotlight on such a critical wine style for Tasmania, and especially for it to be conducted within a small but key wine-producing region of the state.
"It's often very difficult to get a collaborative event of this kind up and running. The team at Josef Chromy - especially former general manager Jeremy Dineen and marketing manager David Milne - have done a brilliant job in making Effervescence Tasmania a major event on the Australian sparkling wine calendar.
"It's incredibly valuable for small producers like Delamere to be involved, but it's not something we could ever manage to do on our own."
The former Gourmet Traveller WINE Young Winemaker of the Year will play a significant role in Effervescence Tasmania's launch event on Friday November 5.
Austin will join 11 other producers from around the state as Champagne and sparkling wine expert Tyson Stelzer presents his top dozen Tasmanian sparkling wine estates at a gala dinner to be held at Josef Chromy Wines.
Stelzer's long-term involvement with Effervescence Tasmania has seen the Queensland-based wine communicator become a staunch advocate for the state's quality-driven, cool climate wine industry.
Only last month, as incoming editor of the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion, Stelzer named Tasmania's 2017 Bellebonne Natalie Fryar Vintage Rosé the publication's sparkling rosé of the year.
Wines at the Relbia event will feature alongside a five-course degustation dinner prepared by head chef, Nick Raitt. Tickets are $360 per person.
Delamere sparkling wine will be poured that same evening at Legana, when chef Matt Adams and Wine Truth's Loic Le Calvez host their Effervescence Degustation at Timbre. The $175-a-head dinner sold out as soon as tickets went on sale last week.
The former Taltarni and Clover Hill group sparkling winemaker has become a familiar face around Delamere's busy winery during the past few vintages. The Frenchman's seven-year tenure at Clover Hill will ensure Timbre guests benefit from his considerable insights on the nature and future of Tasmania's sparkling wines.
Adams is highly regarded for his culinary skills. Launceston-born and raised, he featured in the June/July 2021 edition of national publication Gourmet Traveller Wine. He has been owner and head chef at his cutting-edge vineyard kitchen at Velo Wines since 2017.
Austin admits increasing demand for Tasmanian sparkling wine has put extra pressure on the business she operates with her winemaker husband, Shane Holloway.
"With around 70 per cent of our production being devoted to estate-grown sparkling wines, we've planted more vines and changed some of our vineyard practices in pursuit of even better quality wine," she explains.
"When completed, our new shed will be able to provide much needed space for extended wine maturation and storage, but you're working within a very long feedback loop in sparkling wine production. It all takes time. Lots of time."
Time for a drink.
PICK OF THE CROP
NV Ninth Island Sparkling Rosé $25
"There's nothing else within miles of this price with such elegance, character, texture and polish," writes Tyson Stelzer in the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion.
It's hard to disagree with the bloke best known for spruiking Aussie bubblies around the world.
At this wine's core is a classic mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from the cool climate, Pipers Brook district.
That practically guarantees elegance and pizzazz by the time the finished wine makes it your glass.
Then there's that lovely subtle red fruit, aided and abetted by a gentle hint of sweetness and refreshing natural acidity.
Load up now for Christmas.
NV Moores Hill Blanc de Blancs $45
Bottle-fermented sparkling wine production is very capital intensive, not the least of which is the cost of ageing vintage wines for long periods of time.
This multi-vintage blend is Moores Hill's response to the conundrum of how long is long enough when you're pitching your product into the ultra-premium sector.
Three vintages of base wines contribute to the make-up of this smart Tamar Valley sparkling Chardonnay.
The largest volume comes from the excellent 2018 harvest, providing verve and freshness to more rounded, oak-matured reserve wines.
Neat and refined, its preserved lemon notes are nicely sustained by a dry, lingering finish.
2014 Jansz Tasmania Single Vineyard Chardonnay $65
Jansz Tasmania is a busy producer these days, with six discretely different sparkling wines in its portfolio.
The previous release of this 100 per cent Chardonnay drew plenty of critical acclaim, but I'm more enamoured by the 2014.
The wet spring and dry summer that vintage were near-perfect for super fizz from Pipers River.
Deft winemaking and extended lees ageing have resulted in a very attractive, well balanced wine with excellent focus and intensity.
Flavours of lemon drops, lemon curd and hazelnutty nougat flow seamlessly across the palate.
They finish long, dry and precise, but mercifully free from hard, bracing acidity.
Pass the oysters, please.
- Mark Smith wrote his first weekly Tasmanian wine column back in 1994. He continues to chart the successes of the state's small scale, cool climate wine industry with contributions to some of Australia's leading industry publications