When it comes to sparkling wine from Australia, Tasmania — the island state 150 miles south of the mainland — is a leading region. And this superb wine from Jansz Tasmania, one of the area’s top producers, shows why Tasmania should be on your radar for great-value sparkling wines at a price point far below that of Champagne.
Jansz’s non-vintage Premium Cuvée, at about $25, will make you forget that you’re not drinking Champagne. It’s not that it tastes exactly like the “real thing,” though it’s not altogether different. It’s that it’s a superb sparkling wine that stands on its own and doesn’t need to be compared.
With its southern location, Tasmania is Australia’s coolest-climate wine region (like the Champagne region in France), which makes it perfect for producing the acid-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that are fundamental to high-quality sparkling wine production.
The wine is dry and elegant with aromas and tastes of green apple skin, yellow delicious apple, strawberry, and citrus, along with touches of almond, freshly baked bread, and sage. Made in the traditional Champagne method (with a secondary fermentation in the bottle), the wine — a blend of 60 percent Chardonnay and 40 percent Pinot Noir — receives extended lees aging, which gives it a creamy quality on the finish and contributes to those brioche and nutty notes.
Jansz Tasmania, owned by the Hill-Smith family, produces only sparkling wine and has been doing so since 1986.
Beyond being one of the better sparkling wine values you’ll find, and a great bottle to pop open for New Year’s and beyond, there’s also the exotic factor: When was the last time you offered your guests a glass of wine from Tasmania?