Not all sparkling wine is created equal.

The production of a truly great sparkling wine can only come from exacting cool climate sites, meticulous winemaking and, most of all, patience

The Champagne region in France produces some of the most compelling and age worthy examples in the world, however over the last few decades we have seen the continued rise of sparkling in Australia and with summer on our doorstep, what a great time to explore.

The importance of site and temperature is significant given sparkling wines are typically made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir with smaller proportions of other grape varieties. To produce world class chardonnay and pinot noir it requires a long, slow growing season, preferably coupled with some elevation to coax out the most pure and expressive examples of the varieties. This is where the Macedon Ranges affinity with premium sparkling begins, given its title as the coolest wine growing region on mainland Australia, coupled with the fact that many of the vineyards are positioned along the undulating Great Dividing Range.

The region boasts a number of great sparkling producers, spanning a range of grape varieties and winemaking styles. Most have a cellar door, and if not their wines can be found in local wine retailers across the Macedon Ranges or are available to purchase directly online.

A producer that is synonymous with sparkling in the region is Hanging Rock, with their vineyard overlooking the iconic rock formation that is their namesake. The wines have tension, but balance and are typically a blend of three vintages and aged on lees for four years prior to release. If you are looking for a mature, creamy example of a sparkling wine that has had extended ageing in bottle before disgorgement then Cope Williams is one to try, they have some of the oldest base wines in the Macedon Ranges and you should expect the wine to boast a rich biscuity style.

A fascinating pairing is to put the Midhill Vineyard blanc de blanc and the Hesket Estate blanc de noir side by side in a tasting. The former is 100 percent chardonnay and the latter 100 percent pinot noir. They are both excellent examples of how the individual varieties express themselves, with the Midhill Vineyard blanc de blanc focusing on citrus fruits and a subtle build of flint and nougat, and the Hesket Estate blanc de noir showing vibrant wild strawberry alongside citrus and understated brioche notes

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Hunter Gatherer, photograph by KGMG

A producer that has a trio of sparkling wines is Parkside Estate, two of the wines are based on pinot noir and chardonnay, with both having extended time in bottle prior to disgorgement. The final wine is a sparkling sauvignon blanc, a curiosity that showcases the diversity of the grape variety.

Having recently celebrated 50 years since their first plantings, Granite Hills Winery is set to release a reserve edition of their 2001 vintage sparkling. Spending an amazing 17 years on yeast lees, this complex savoury style is ideally timed for release just ahead of Christmas. Just 200 bottles available.

A wine that is a little bit further off the beaten track is the Contrefort label by Etienne Manger, made in achingly small quantities that give a juxtaposition between winemaker derived complexity and the pristine fruit from which they were made. Those who may enjoy a prosecco won’t be disappointed with Mount Towrong who have a focus on Italian varietals and produce a beautifully crisp and floral wine.

The region also produces a number of examples of the quintessential Australian wines, sparkling shiraz. Hunter Gatherer have an estate vineyard in Pipers Creek, as well as sourcing grapes from other nearby regions. Their sparkling shiraz from

Heathcote is likely to convert anyone who says they don’t enjoy the variety or style with the rich and expressive base wine, given mouthfeel and texture from super fine bubbles.

As we move into the warmer months, with plenty of moments for celebration, you are sure to find a fizz from the Macedon Ranges that excites.

Hero image: Hunter Gatherer, photography by KGMG.

Parkside Estate LifeinLight photography. uai
Parkside Estate, photograph by Life in Light Photography

About the author

Patrick Eckel
Patrick Eckel
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Patrick is a skilled wine appreciator and has spent a majority of his life pursuing his passion for wine. His site, Wine Reviewer, provides independent reviews, over 3,000 in fact, of the wines he discovers. It's fair to say he knows a thing or two about wine!