‘Liquid Caviar’, Aussie Sparkling Shiraz

‘Liquid Caviar’, Aussie Sparkling Shiraz

Sparkling Red, an Aussie Icon.

Winefolly evocatively refers to these wines as ‘liquid caviar’… I like her thinking!

Italy and Australia are the two key producers of sparkling red wines globally, the former is most renowned for their (at times understandably) undervalued Lambrusco. Although another popular version, Brachetto, is also made in Piedmont. I am actually spending this coming Christmas in Bologna, the heart of Emilia Romagna.. land of Lambrusco! So, I imagine there will be more than one opportunity to sample their fizzy garnet-coloured delights and make my own comparisons with some home-grown favourites. A couple of years ago I sent a bottle of Rockford Black Sparkling Shiraz to the in-laws in Bologna, but to this day I’m not sure it was received as warmly at the Christmas table as their own local drops!

What is it about Australia’s sparkling reds that are so unique? In late 19th century Victoria, French winemaker Auguste D’Argent dabbled at the ‘Victorian Champagne Company’ with the first known version of Australian ‘sparkling burgundy’. The name has since been banned by the EU, but the tradition lives on.

Seppelt, Rockford, Leasingham, Primo Estate and Kay Brothers are some of the names at the Australian forefront of this moreish wine style. We might not be the first or only country to produce sparkling red wines, but we were purportedly the first to create shiraz-based sparkling reds. I was recently informed that a producer in the south of France is now dabbling with a shiraz-based version as well!

Thanks to the efforts of the Seppelt Great Western winery, Australia experienced a revival of interest in sparkling reds in the 1980s that hasn’t yet waned. Typically exhibiting red and black fruits, leather, molasses, spice, and a velvety texture, it is the quintessential Christmas lunch wine.. serious yet frivolous, robust yet refined, and absolutely delicious when paired with turkey or ham.

West End’s new Roman Pizza Bar, Lupa!

West End’s new Roman Pizza Bar, Lupa!

Sick of the same old vino offerings when you dine out? Then the intriguing wine list at West End’s new Roman Pizza Bar, Lupa, will have you buzzing with excitement.


Owners Andrea Contin and Valentina Vigni have poured their love of quality Italian produce into Lupa, rigorously taste testing wines for months in the lead up to opening. I’ve been told that more than thirty Vin Santos were tried in order to source just the right one for their list!

You won’t find any Australian wines here, none of the usual suspects but, we promise, it’s going to be okay.

Instead, by the glass you can try a delicious and savoury dry Cannonau from Sardinia, or a 100% Ciliegiolo (usually seen only as a minor component in the chianti blend). The whites are just as interesting, with a rarely seen Lugana from Veneto also available. The small region of Lugana bordering Lake Garda is at risk of losing 25% of its vineyards to a proposed rail line, so try this wine while you still can.

And if the wine list looks a little too overwhelming, skip googling the names under the table, just ask Andrea for tasting notes and recommendations. He has a wealth of knowledge to share.

On a final note, do yourself a favour and forget everything you think you know about Lambrusco, I know it will be difficult, then give the Radice Lambrusco di Sorbara a try. It’s a sparkling cloudy rose in appearance, with excellent balance, sublime texture, and a bit of funk.

Lupa is open Tuesday to Sunday, from midday till late, at 321 Montague Road West End.

At Wineaway we love to explore new and unusual wines, and have been hosting a series of wine events focusing on some of the more obscure Italian wines available to us. Our final instalment in the series (the Mezziogornio) will be coming in late October. Sign up to our mailing list for further details. We’ll be sure to feature some Cannonau in the lineup!

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