The Hunter Valley is well-known for its wide selection of wineries that promise an authentic taste of Australia. Throughout the region, there are numerous vineyards that produce and sell their tipple all over the world.
And the wine in this part of Australia comes in all flavours and colours, with sparkling wine proving to be a popular production choice.
The majority of sparkling wine produce in the Hunter Valley is made using Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes, but there is also a unique specialty that is made using Shiraz grapes to create a red sparkling wine.
It’s hard to believe, because we tend to pop a bottle of it at every celebration, that sparkling wine was originally a winemaking accident. It would come about when the winemaker would bottle and seal the wine, thinking the process was done and dusted, but the fermentation wasn’t complete.
At this point, there would still be sugar in the bottle along with a number of living yeast cells, which would cause a second round of fermentation. The carbon dioxide in the bottle would be trapped, so when it was finally opened the wine would be bubbling (as well as cloudy from the yeast residue).
The bubbliness was never a problem, but drinkers tended to dislike the cloudiness, which is why winemakers in the Hunter Valley manage the process to eliminate this feature.
How Sparkling Wine is Made in the Hunter Valley
The most popular way that sparkling wine is produced in the Hunter Valley is via the methode traditionelle, which is the same process French Champagne goes through. Cheaper sparkling wines are created using a variety of other methods not dissimilar to the process used to make soda water.
The methode traditionelle is when the secondary fermentation of the wine takes place in the bottle. The wine itself is matured on yeast lees before the bottles are hand-turned to make sure the lees settles in the neck.
Wines created using the methode traditionelle get their flavour not only from the grapes used, but also from the yeast that is matured and hand-turned inside the bottle. And, the longer the yeast is in the wine, the more intense the flavour is.
What to Pair Your Sparkling Wine With
The difficulty comes when deciding what to pair your bottle of sparkling wine with. In actual fact, it pretty much goes with anything, but pairing it with seafood, tapas, and hors d’oeuvres is the preferred way (particularly if you’re looking to get the party started!).