Decanter awarded the House Of Arras EJ Carr 2004 Sparkling Wine of The Year in the January 2021 issue. Arras EJ Carr 2004 is long sold out, but I tasted it in 2018 (see the story here) and it was mighty impressive. Easily the best Sparkling wine from Australia. But is Arras EJ Carr the best Sparkling wine in the world?
I can’t definitively say the Arras EJ Carr 2004 is the best Sparkling Wine in the world. But I can say when I think about the truly great Champagne experiences, 2004 Dom Perignon, 1982 Salon, 1998 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill, I can easily put the Arras EJ Carr 04 in the ballpark.
Enough teasing you with the 2004 which you cannot buy. You’ll have to “settle” for the Arras EJ Carr 2005 which in the Halliday 2021 edition received Sparkling Wine of the Year with 99 points. 2005 is a wine that Ed Carr says is better than the 2004. Arras EJ Carr is a wine made as if money and time are no object. High-quality fruit from great years expertly made into wine and left for 12 years on lees.
House Of Arras EJ Carr 2005 Wine Review Halliday Annual 2021
“A mix of 69% Chardonnay and 31% Pinot Noir spent 13 years on tirage, and a low dosage of 31.g/l. It takes Australian sparkling onto a level of texture and complexity that no other producer can even seek to achieve. Comparisons with Krug or Bollinger are valid, regardless of preferences. Cork. 12.5% alc. Rating 99” Jane Faulkner
At the heart of House of Arras is Ed Carr. It would appear that during his career he worked on all of the iconic Sparkling wine brands of Australia. But it was in 1988 when he embarked on a mission to craft an exception Australian Sparkling wine that he would rival the world’s best. House of Arras was Australia’s first 100% Tasmanian vintage Cuvee. Today, there are many producers doing this, but Arras is still in the top handful of quality
The beautiful island south of the Australian mainland that has carved out a reputation for quality sparkling wine and Pinot Noir. Tasmania’s cooler climate regions and extended growing season make it perfect for aromatic styles of wine. A wealth of quality focussed producers has helped lift the status of the whole island. Interestingly, despite notable differences, there is only the one GI in Tassie.
This is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one-trick pony. Apart from the best reds in the world, you can find world-class Pinot Noir rosé, sparkling. You can even find sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too.
The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnays can range from cool-climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation. In a Champagne context, Chard can add mineral flavours, stone fruits and acidity along with some weight of fruit.
The invasion of “Sunshine in a bottle” put Australian wine on the map. The fruity, easy-going, somewhat samey wines were endearing for a short time. Then the next big thing knocked them off their perch.
This forced producers to increase quality and emphasise the distinctive terroirs of Australia. Of which, there are many. And many more yet to be discovered.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is impressive. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fizz, bubby, bubbles. It is a wine with bubbles in it. There are many ways to put the bubbles in, and many styles and flavours you can find. Important to know that you should never buy cheap Sparkling. Champagne is still the quality leader of the world. But great Sparkling can be found in Moscato (sweet), Prosecco, Franciacorta (Italy), Cava (Spain), Australia, New Zealand, Loire Valley and Burgundy Cremant (France).
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.