ONE key feature of our upcoming municipal birthday bash has been about 18 months in the making: the fizzy tipple that will be served along the twin 400-metre sections of the World’s Longest Bubbly Bar at Commonwealth Place.The sparkling wine, a traditional Champagne-style blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, is one of three new offerings put together by a group of local winemakers under the “Centenary” label. A Riesling and a Shiraz have also been produced for the centennial year from grapes grown in 2008, to commemorate the selection of the site for the new capital in 1908, and to aid their flavour. According to the president of the Canberra District Wine Industry Association, Allan Pankhurst, the growing conditions that year were “fabulous”.
“In fact, it was probably one of our best years for some time at that point,” Allan says.
The bubbly was produced from 2011 grapes, he explains, “because you don’t want a five-year-old sparkling.”
While 2011 was a slightly difficult year for the region’s wineries, Allan says the grapes used were harvested early and escaped unwanted late-season rains.
“It’s really got the lovely fruit from the Chardonnay and the firmness from the Pinot Noir. It really is a magic blend.”
Incidentally, if you haven’t already got a ticket for one of the short stay, long stay or premium sessions at the long bar, you might just have to drop in after 9.30pm, when it opens to all comers.
The wines were produced from the best examples of each variety, chosen through blind tasting by a panel of the region’s top winemakers. The Rieslings were selected in April 2008, the panel looking for the best quality, as well as a combination of fruitier and firmer flavours that would complement each other well.
“We did the same process with the reds in the following February and March, after they’d been in oak for a while, so we could taste them when they were more mature and then identify which wines we would use,” says Allan.
Wines from five different producers went into the Riesling and six into the Shiraz, with those that made the cut coming from every corner of the region. But are they good to hold on to?
“Absolutely. Both the Riesling and the Shiraz will age really well.
“You don’t normally think of white wines to age, but Rieslings do age particularly well. Some people prefer the fresh, young style but Riesling lovers will actually look for an old one as well and like any wine, it depends on what you’re eating or how you feel on the day.
“They’ll both develop further in the bottle for another five to 10 years.”
Bottles of the Centenary Sparkling are $30. The Centenary Riesling and Centenary Shiraz are $35. To order, go to canberrawines.com.au/centenary or call Pankhurst Wines on 6230 2592.