Happy International Champagne Day

Global Sparkling Tasting panel chairs Ed Carr Nic Bowen and Erin Larkin. Image courtesy Howard-Park

Globally, Australia is ranked the sixth largest export market for Champagne importing almost 10 million bottles of Champagne in 2021. The strong export figures have continued in 2022 and reveal that the Australian market remains one of the most dynamic in the world.

With Australia’s comparatively small population when equated to the other top ten international markets – the domestic consumption rate could be the highest in the world.

The sparkling category at large has also seen particular growth over the last few years, as the category shows strength amongst younger wine consumers.

Champagne Day is the day in the year where people from around the world come together to celebrate the sparkling wine All that is required to participate in Champagne Day activities is to enjoy a glass or share a bottle of Champagne (or sparkling) on Friday, October 28th.

Australia’s sparkling wine sector has seen interest from the rest of the industry as well, with the second annual Global Sparkling Tasting hosted by Howard Park Wines taking place in September.

Luminaries from across the sparkling wine category in attendance to taste and discuss the growing quality of locally-produced sparkling wine, in addition to exploring various styles from across the globe.

Panelling the extensive tasting was Howard Park’s chief winemaker Nic Bowen, famed House of Arras sparkling winemaker Ed Carr, and Wine Advocate critic Erin Larkin.

More than 30 wine producers, media and members of the trade attended the special event, which featured four different brackets themed for attendees to explore the different corners of international and locally-made sparkling wines.

“There is a never-ending sense of exploration amongst the team at Howard Park, particularly when it comes to the craft of exceptional sparkling,” Chief Winemaker for Howard Park Wines Nic Bowen said.

“This event is an eye-opening experience into what our global peers have to offer, and acknowledges that with great viticultural sites and great winemaking there should be fantastic wines to follow.

“The tastings, and discussions held around them, offered an incredible platform to form new insights into the category while highlighting Australia’s place in the world of sparkling wines.”

The four brackets featured at the event included the traditional Non-Vintage, Vintage and Prestige brackets, contrasted with the rather non-traditional look at the world of Avante-Garde styles.

The 23 wines in the tasting covered 11 countries of origin, including examples from Slovenia, South Africa, Hungary and Austria – in addition to the more traditional sparkling-producing regions and Australia.

Attendee and presenter feedback from the event highlighted the importance of showing the diversity of sparkling from across the globe and the growing space for premium examples outside the Champagne region.

“The tasting further reinforced my thoughts on the expression of terroir of each of the countries and regions. There are certainly many wines that have broken through the glass ceiling and have comparable quality to Champagne,” Group Sparkling Winemaker for Accolade Wines Ed Carr said.

“The world of sparkling is diverse, making this an important tasting. I thought the ‘Avante-Garde’ bracket was important. It provoked some good discussion and could be improved and expanded on even further next year,” Robert Parker Wine Advocate’s Erin Larkin said.

For Howard Park, the tasting forms part of the winery’s larger ambitions to showcase the Great Southern region as a premier destination for fine Australian sparkling through its Jeté collection of wines.

“Western Australia has some good potential with the style, but probably in the past, it has been a bit of a side project for many wineries, which is changing now,” founder and publisher at Winepilot, and event attendee, Angus Hughson said.

“Tasmania has done much to bring the focus back here (Australia), but WA has just not been a part of the conversation. The challenge is to bring Great Southern into that conversation with that regional focus.”

“At Howard Park, we are striving to contribute to the world of sparkling by assembling wines of pleasure, complexity and style from our wonderful Western Australian vineyards. We hope that over time the world will view Western Australia’s sparkling wines as ones that are appreciated for their regional distinction and quality,” Bowen said.


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