The Sparkling Wine Production Process in the Hunter Valley

The Sparkling Wine Production Process in the Hunter Valley

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 05/10/2017

Reading time: 3 mins

Labelled the ultimate special-occasion beverage, find out how this sparkling drop has us drooling!

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. Used for celebrations, toasts, and every excuse in between, sparkling can be seen as either your go-to choice or something special only used for special occasions.

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.

The Historic Marking of Sparkling Wine

It’s hard to believe because we tend to pop a bottle (or two) at every chance we get, but 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 the 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!). Our main suggest however is that you have something to celebrate, to go with your delicious glass of sparkling wine!

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.