With the tremendous success of Champagne as a region has come the re-emergence of growers own brands, especially in the Vallee de l’Aube. Some of the more enterprising families have decided to place renewed focus on the varieties which have fallen out of favour with the large houses, among them Champagne Drappier, Laherte Freres and Champagne Moutard Pere & Fils. (Click for a video tasting of Champagne Moutard’s Arbane.)
This, to me, seems like a really strong direction to take, creating fascinating wine syles and interesting stories which differentiate these growers from the dominant and hugely well funded brands. It also seemed to me that Tasmania could take a leaf from their book and look at these varieties a little more closely as part of the Tasmanian sparkling wine story. And so…. I am intending to plant all SEVEN of the permitted Champagne varieties. (For more details, read the post “The SEVEN varieties of Champagne – coming soon.”)
The first of the “lesser known” (at least for sparkling wine,) varieties obtained is Pinot Blanc. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Tasmania has not embraced this variety more as it seems perfectly suited to our climate. The enigmatic Professor David Kilpatrick, owner of the magnificent Clarence House Estate, (pictured below,) is the only grower so far to recognize and realize the potential for this grape’s ability to produce fresh, delicate but well textured white wines. He graciously allowed me to take around 500 cuttings which have now joined the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the callousing boxes at Killiekrankie Farm Nursery. Three down, four more to go.