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Tasmania is making some truly excellent sparkling wines of great elegance and character. This award-winning Champagne-method blend of 55% chardonnay and 45% pinot noir is lavished with over three years’ ageing on its yeast lees to give it a rich toasty note, complementing its citrusy freshness beautifully.
Product Code: SG2171
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Brown Brothers are among the most famous and respected of longstanding Australian wine producers with a range that encompasses every almost every style made Down Under. Established by John Francis Brown in 1889 at Milawa in the King Valley region of Victoria, they have over the years shown themselves to be inspired innovators with a keen perception of what the market wants without compromising on the high-quality that has ensured their place in the pantheon of great Antipodean producers. They make some 60 different wines and grow 45 different varieties. Now on to the fourth generation, they are members of the prestigious First Families of Wine initiative in Australia, an alliance of the family owned and run winemaking concerns that represent the very best of Australia’s wine heritage over many decades.The family are still based at Milawa but also own four other estates in Victoria and two in Tasmania. On the latter they acquired the Tamar Ridge estate which also makes Devils Corner wines, as well as the famous Pirie company. Across all the estates they crush some 18,000 tons of grapes but because of the sheer diversity of the range head winemaker Wendy Cameron has to oversee a great many small batch ferments and as a result many different techniques are employed.Despite their expansion and range the family is absolutely committed to sustainability in viticulture and winemaking. Programs for water management, waste management, integrated pest management, soil health and ecologically sound packaging are all in place.Visitors to the cellar door may find wines available that are not yet commercially available. This is the family’s testing ground where wines are tried out on a willing public. If it doesn’t cut it at the cellar door it probably won’t see the light of day on the wider market. The nearby test vineyards are constantly being planted with new varieties to see how they perform before any upscaling takes place. Even the glera grape of Prosecco is being grown before becoming an Aussie version of the Italian bubbly. Italy and Spain are particular inspirations at the moment, but who knows where their curiosity and passion will take them next. Is it any wonder they have been so successful?
A place of beautiful landscapes, this quaint island is separated from mainland Australia by the 240km stretch of the Bass Strait, and is a wine lover's and fisherman's dream. Boasting some of the world's finest seafood, its temperate climate makes it Australia's coolest wine producing region. As would be expected, sparkling wine, riesling and chardonnay thrive in Tasmania, but pinot noir can be exceptional, with a delicacy and lift often lacking in wines from the mainland.The vineyards are in the main part clustered close to the two major urban areas, the state capital Hobart in the south and Launceston in the north, though there are no geographical demarcations within the island and no matter where the grapes come from the wine is labelled ‘Tasmania’.The west coast of Tasmania is one of the wettest parts of Australia, but the area around Hobart is one of its driest and all the commercial vineyards sit in the east. The Coal River, Huon Valley and Derwent Valley areas embrace Hobart and are warmer and drier than other vineyard zones, and the Coal River sometimes requires irrigation. Around Launceston in the north the Tamar and Piper’s River areas are cooler, though Tamar is warmer than Piper’s Brook to the extent that it is not considered ideal for pinot noir plantings. The bottom line is that it is not easy to pigeonhole the larger areas of Tasmania and one is required to zoom in to examine districts and even vineyards. The geography and climate is complex and there are bound to be even more improvement as growers, especially those new to the island, get to grips with the variety of terroirs and the wonderful possibilities they offer.
"Deliciously light and a perfect start for an evening of wine tasting"
I would recommend this wine
"This is beautiful - I shan't bother with champagne as long as I can buy Pirie. Well done, Wine Society, for getting some in."
I'm conflicted: tell the truth or wait to hoover some more in the bin ends.....
In the spirit of good faith and mutuality.......
This slots in to my top half dozen fizzes (in no order: Pol, Gratien, Marguet...vintage or NV doesn't matter (the others I'm keeping to myself))"
Three Wine Men 17th May 2018
"Andrew Pirie was the
guy who started the Tasmanian wine revolution and this is the sparkling wine
that led the way - full, nutty, toasty, rich, but magnificently dry. - Oz Clarke"
Decanter 1st Dec 2017
"The 75 best buys of 2017: This is a superlative
creation with more gravitas and structure in the glass than you might expect. I
happen to prefer this wine to the vintage offerings from the same portfolio
given its sublime balance and freshness. - Panel Tasting"
Decanter 4th Oct 2017
creation with gravitas and structure. I prefer this to vintage wines from the
same portfolio: subline balance and freshness. - Matthew Jukes"
Decanter 28th Jun 2017
Award - Best Australian Sparkling 2017: Evocative nose of lemon, apple, pear,
delicate oak and toasty notes. Fresh acidity, delicious palate. Very fine
bubbles. Full-bodied with layers of complexity: berries, brioche, toast,
intense minerality and lingering finish. Great stuff."
100 Best Australian Wines 23rd May 2017
"The wine is made from
a blend of 55% chardonnay and 45% pinot noir and it is mainly grown in
Tasmania's Tamar Valley with a small percentage of fruit coming from the
bracing East Coast. Named after pioneering wine-brain Dr Andrew Pirie and owned
by wine dynasty Brown Brothers, this is a superlative creation and it loads
more gravitas and structure into the glass than you might expect. I happen to
prefer this wine to the vintage offerings from the same portfolio given its
subline balance and freshness. Fuller on the pallet [than others] and genuinely
classy with brioche and wild flower notes in abundance, this is a remarkably
noteworthy wine. - Matthew Jukes"
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We do moderate comments and reviews, purely to ensure that content published on The Wine Society's website is of value to members, and is fair and balanced. We're delighted to say that in the vast, vast majority of cases, our members' input is just that! We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.