OK, that title isn’t entirely true. The best brunch ever would include DD at the table … but this was a pretty close second.
One of my workmates couldn’t go to a tasting that Jansz – a Tasmanian sparkling wine producer – had organised at the Intercontinental Hotel at Double Bay yesterday, so I took her place at the last minute.
It’s always a little nerve-racking to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone and my coping mechanism is slightly scary – I become the Energiser Bunny crossed with Chatty Cathy. I regale everyone with tales as I tap dance into entertainer mode. Even the hint of a lull in the conversation is a source of panic that must be avoided at all cost.
Fortunately I asked lots of loud questions in the process and only shared a couple of embarrassing anecdotes about myself so hopefully I was just seen as mildly eccentric.
Although I did get a little over-excited when someone asked me if I’d written much about the Container Deposit Scheme.
Have I written much about the Container Deposit Scheme? Is the Pope Catholic?
They copped quite the rant about the failings of the CDS (why on earth we’re spending all that money on litter reduction when our recycling options have collapsed is completely beyond me – shouldn’t we sort that out first?).
Anyways, I managed to plonk myself right opposite the Jansz vigneron, Jennifer Doyle, who is a total sweetheart. She was so kind to me during my bumbling assessments of the wine and daft questions about how sparkling wine is made.
But I did manage to surprise her with my revelation that Tamburlaine does a (rather delicious) sparkling with a screwcap. She was most intrigued.
The Orange-born winemaker recently celebrated five years working at one of the most highly regarded sparkling wine houses in Australia. She says she has fallen in love with both the vineyards she tends and her new island home.
She lives in a cute little cottage overlooking the sea near Port Arthur and reckons she’s a total Tassie convert.
The winner of the Viticulturist of the Year award at the 2017 Women in Wine awards (AWIWA) works between Jansz’s three vineyards: Pipers River, Coal River Valley, and Forcett.
She took us through the six sparkling wines in her portfolio: Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvee NV, Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvee 2013, Jansz Tasmania Vintage Rose 2013, Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvee Late Disgorged 2010; Jansz Tasmania Single Vineyard Vintage Chardonnay 2011 and Jansz Premium Rose NV.
Each was paired with flavours the avid foodie believes brings out the best in the wine, while also proving that sparkling wine is more than just an apertif.
When asked if she had a “favourite child” among the six, Doyle admitted to a soft spot for the Single Vineyard Vintage Chardonnay 2011, which she suggests pairing with oysters.
Very pale golden, with an exceptionally fine bead, the wine’s palate has layers of citrus flavours, crystallised lemon and lemon curd overlaid with roast almond nougat. Those are her words, not mine!
However, my favourite was the Vintage Rose 2013, which has a pale colour that Doyle compared to Argyle pink diamonds. The nose was fragrant and expressive with aromas of rose water, quince blossom and strawberries, overlaid by notes of truffle and sweet broiche. We sipped it together while dining on lemon myrtle cured Tasmanian salmon, with celeriac, red vine sorrel and salmon caviar.
Another striking wine in the line up is the Vintage Cuvee Late Disgorged 2010, which features intense notes of preserved lemon and sea spray with flavours of caramelised pear, truffled honey and roasted hazelnuts. It is paired with a slow-cooked egg benedict style with avocado and white truffle oil.
Doyle was generous with her knowledge of the sparkling wine process she dubs “Methode Tasmanoise”. In the style of Methode Champenoise, it requires a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which creates the bubbles in sparkling wine. A small amount of yeast and sugar is added before the bottle is sealed with a crown cap. The yeasts starts fermenting the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Since the gas cannot escape, it dissolves into the wine.
At Jansz, the bottles are then turned upside down so the yeast can settle in the neck, where it is frozen and removed before corking.
Doyle favours a drier style of sparkling wine, which extends to all six of her expressions.
The tasting concluded with a wine that Doyle described as “a fun one” – Jansz Tasmania Premium Rose NV – which was paired with a dessert of citrus fruits, raspberries and fizz rocks. It was a vibrant wine with a delicate pink hue, a subtle nose of Turkish delight and rose petal florals.
A lovely end to the meal, but my heart still belongs to the Vintage Rose 2013.
It was such an unexpectedly nice way to spend a few hours, despite being totally surrounded by strangers. I thanked the rep from Samuel Smith & Sons for inviting me as I headed off … then said “Ooops, you didn’t!”
I have no idea why I added that. My tongue has a mind of its own sometimes.
Song of the day: Oasis “Champagne Supernova”