Wine Reviews September

18 Sep

andre clouet, champagne, clover hill, sparkling, tasmania, france, lambrusco, lini 910, italy

Spring has arrived and brought with it welcome bursts of sunshine. Keeping in line with the season, I thought I would write about three different styles of wine where each bottle bursts open in a shower of beads.

CLOVER HILL Sparkling 2007

Pipers River, Tasmania

RRP $45.00

Clover Hill is crafted by the Sparkling Queen, Karina Dambergs. I am confident she will not mind me bestowing that title upon her given that she works as the chief sparkling winemaker for  the Clover Hill Estate in Tasmania and Taltarni in Victoria. With a background in chemical engineering, Ms Dambergs found the pull of the wine world too strongto ignore. She now finds herself producing wonderful wines using the classic grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in what is called methode champenoise. This traditional method is used by the great makers of Champagne whereby the secondary fermentation (the one that actually makes the bubbles) takes place within the bottle and not inside a tank. Following this, the spent yeast stays in contact with the wine for a further three years before the sediment is removed. The result is a straw golden wine that pours into the glass with a delicate and lasting creamy bead. The aromas burst forth as a complex mixture of juicy red apples, golden wattle and oyster shell. The flavours and mouth-feel are rich from the extended time on lees in the bottle and provide characters ranging from fresh dough to rich broth. It has acidity in the less tart spectrum, and a poised almond praline and acacia honey finish. It is definitely one of Australia’s finer sparkling wines.

Stockists: Purvis Cellars in Surrey Hills and Armadale Cellars.

ANDRÉ CLOUET Grande Reserve Brut Champagne NV

Bouzy, Champagne, France

RRP $70.00

A number of months ago the mischievous and playful Jean-François Clouet popped in from France to show Australia his family’s gorgeous Champagnes. This Frenchman is the chef de cave (Champagne winemaker) for the small grower producer called André Clouet. The vineyard where the wine is produced is located in the highly regarded Bouzy area of the Champagne appellation. This is where the Pinot Noir grape shines and thus André Clouet is regarded as somewhat of a specialist in the area.

The Grande Reserve Brut is made from 100% of the Pinot Noir grape and is cellared for six years on the yeast in bottle under the family’s 17th century village house. This is a richer style of Champagne, but lends itself well as an aperitif or suits a delicate cuisine, like that of Golden Fields when I first tasted it. Prepare yourself to be captured by bursts of taut sparkling beads, aromas of brioche, red fruits, and spices like cinnamon and vanilla, and a bright palate that finishes with a dry lemon line. 

After meeting the charming Jean-François Clouet over lunch, I came to the realisation that I should be drinking Champagne more often. While it may have been a combination of the French accent and the wine playing havoc on my brain, I am now in wholehearted agreement with French historian, Geneviève Dévignes, who once proclaimed, “Champagne! Hail to the corks that fly up to the ceiling!”

Stockist: Selling for only $50 at the Prince Wine Store, South Melbourne

LINI910 Lambrusco Rosso ‘Lambrusca’ NV

Correggio, Emilia Romagna

RRP $19.00

The Lini family has had four generations of practice when it comes to making Lambrusco. They started way back in 1910 in a little village called Correggio found in the northern region of Emilia Romagna, Italy. Observing the Godfather-like labeling on the bottle, I vividly ponder what other stories the Lini family may have to tell. However, I put my wild imagination to rest and conclude that this really does not matter…because what they have provided is a bottle of nostalgia. I grew up in a family of Italian descent and can fondly recall the days spent drinking Lambrusco in a glass tumbler alongside my father for lunch. In fact, the first wine I tasted as a child was Lambrusco from a cask that was topped up with water. The Lambrusco haze left me with a mixture of sweet, fizzy, red memories.

Like any wine that is made nowadays, Lambrusco can come in a variety of styles, from the overtly sweet to the less commonly dry. The commercial, high-volume styles of the ’80s and ’90s are nothing like the savoury styles that are making a comeback today. The Lini910 is made from 85% Salamino and 15% Ancellotta grapes and undergoes a long and slow fermentation that lasts three to four months. This has given the dark cherry-coloured Lambrusco a light, creamy fizz and a nose of black cherries, sarsaparilla, stewed blackberries and a touch of black olive savouriness. It has a light entry with a hint of sweetness but finishes dry with a fine, blackcurrant flavour. Sharing this bottle with my father on Father’s Day brought some wonderful memories flooding back. This dry, refreshing style blows the old sweet cask Lambruscos right out of the water.

Stockist: Available online at

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