We Say “Cheers!” To Sparkling Wine

Katherine Brown and Caroline Brown

John Graham Brown was always the innovator who questioned the status quo. He started to deviated from the historical ‘Traditional Method’ winemaking techniques the good people of Champagne use to make their wines.
 
He made sure that his experiments with sparkling wine were not restricted to traditional blends of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 1983 a wine called ‘Petit Cuvee’ was released – a unique blend of Trebbiano, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The following year after much deliberation John resigned to the fact that “Yes, the Champenois probably have got it right” and in 1984 the Family Reserve Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Brut came to be.

The wine has to this day been selected from the Whitlands vineyard right at the top of the King Valley with sweeping views to the north and east. During winter snow-capped mountains are visible in the distance.

The 1997 vintage was elevated to Patricia status for its long run of exceptional wines and in 2003 released with the inaugural Patricia range.

Over the years experiments continued, and with strong and bountiful fruit being produced, a Non-Vintage (NV) sparkling was release in 1992.

The base wine was a blend of young 7-month old, through to 4-year-old wines and was aged for 18 months in the bottle.

It was to become the most successful NV sparkling wine in the national wine show system over the next 25 years.

The Whitlands vineyard was the backbone of this wine usually providing 50% of the blend. The remainder was achieved with long term grower contracts at vineyard sites that were not as high as Whitlands but still considered to be cool climate.

We are now holding back around 30% of the total blend each year as reserve wines for aging. The remaining 70% goes to bottle for the secondary fermentation and is released around two years later.

There is a new comer to the mix and it is super exciting. Otto Dal Zotto made the first Prosecco in the King Valley in the early 2000s and given his birthplace was smack bang in the heart of Prosecco country who could blame him.

A little taste of home! We decided to give the variety a go in 2008 and what a decision it has turned out to be.

The Whitlands vineyard after much perseverance proved too cold to get red grape varieties consistently ripe so another vineyard was established in the King Valley in 1996 that was still cool climate but not as high in altitude as Whitlands.

The name of the vineyard was Banksdale and it was planted with Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet, Pinot Grigio amongst others.

In 2006 some struggling Barbera vines were grafted to the Prosecco variety and in 2008 a commercial quantity was able to be released. The wine proved very successful at Cellar Door and on the national market so additional plantings took place.

10 years after our first release, Prosecco is the second largest (behind Muscat of Alexandria for Moscato) grape variety to come into the winery.