Nick's Blog: Southerly Attitude - A Tasting with Aussie Sparkling King Ed Carr

August 26th, 2014

Talk to any winemaker in Australia about sparkling winemakers and there’s little in the way of disagreement that Ed Carr is the pack leader, especially when it comes to Tasmanian sparkling wine.

Having established the House of Arras for what was then Hardy’s in 1995, the development of the range of cool-climate sparkling wines has simultaneously sought to elevate the expectations of exactly what level of quality is possible, as well as develop a very coherent house style.

Carr has seen all there is to see in terms of the terroir best suited to making quality Australian sparkling wine and he is unequivocal about his preference for Tasmania’s cool, pristine and southerly terroir. The evidence is well documented with almost 20 years in the project, many wines and seemingly endless awards under his belt. 

“The proof is in the wines really, but when we looked at cooler climates it was the more southerly, higher latitude wines that had the most supple tannin, elegant structure and greater longevity,” Carr says. He maintains that sites on the mainland of Australia that achieve cooler conditions by means of altitude rather than latitude produce richer, more fruity and more angular sparkling wines as a general expression of their terroir.

In terms of house style there’s certainly a signature across the wines that are spending longer time on triage and the palate shape across the range does reflect his predilection for supple, elegant and yet piercingly pure style. Chardonnay does dominate the wines as you move up the scale of time on triage and, accordingly price.

“I’ve always been a chardonnay fan in terms of structure and elegance,” Carr says, “and we want to make wine with an oystery, seaside edge that are noble in terms of the way they age and develop, are less fruity than most other Australia regions and genuinely elegant.”

Drilling down further, there’s a Champagne-like preference for chardonnay form the East Coast and pinot noir from the Upper Derwent Valley emerging which reflects Carr’s hard work over the years, an impressive depth of detail and close study of Tasmania’s gifted terroir. 

“We’re only 20 years into it, not 200 like the French,” he adds, “but you’ve got to call them as you see them,” Carr says. And by the look of these wines, he’s seeing them pretty darn clearly.

Click for the notes and scores.

Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2002

Arras Grand Vintage 2004

Arras Blanc de Blancs 2004

Arras Brut Elite Cuvée No. 601 NV

Arras Vintage Rosé 2005

A by Arras NV


Nick Stock is a renowned Australian wine writer, author, presenter and filmmaker who reports on his worldwide wine tasting experiences for JamesSuckling.com.

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