They shall not grow ‘Burgundy’

Max Crus
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Seppelt Great Western vineyards are famous for their high quality wines

Seppelt Great Western vineyards are famous for their high quality wines

“They shall not grow senior as we that are left grow senior
Maturity shall not stress them, nor moving forward condemn
And at the end of the day, 24/7, and on the Sunrise program
We will reflect upon the issues
Lest we seek closure.”

They changed the Lord’s Prayer to suit modern vernacular so why not the Ode? I wonder what the diggers would think? Anyway, as we reflect on their deeds of nearly a century ago, lest we forget they are likely also responsible for Australia’s peculiar and almost unique passion for sparkling red wine. Allegedly.

Legend has it that a bunch of diggers returned from the Western Front spruiking the virtues of the sparkling wines of Burgundy, which, to the reasonable assumption of Aussie winemakers at the time, meant sparkling pinot noir, ie sparkling red. Adding further weight to the assumption, pinot noir is also one of the three traditional grapes of Champagne - move to the top of the class if you knew the others are chardonnay and pinot meunier - so why not a bubbly red? What will those silly French accents think of next? But pinot in the early 20th century in Australia was about as rare as rocking light-horse poo, indeed, there was probably - to use the modern-digger vernacular - zip. However in true swashbuckling Aussie style, a piece of fencing wire in the form of the plentiful shiraz, was enlisted and fashioned into our first sparkling Burg’.

Ultimately, despite our costly assistance to the ‘Frogs’ during that first horrible war, we were told we could no longer use the term Burgundy, and the much sexier replacement term ‘sparkling shiraz’ was born in the late 20th century. It’s a wonder no one has called their sparkling red, ‘Anzac’. Here’s to the diggers anyway. See you at the dawn service, then the club for some two-up and a glass of sparkling burgundy.

Oddly enough I have never tried a sparkling red made only from pinot, so here’s some shirazzes to compensate.

Banrock Station Sparkling Shiraz NV $12.50 - "For those who like a little fun in their fizz"...or vice versa when kiss turns to shove at 1am, but we didn't last that long. Great stuff at a great price. 8.5/10.

Sir James Sparkling Shiraz NV $25. "Christmas turkey's perfect partner"...feed the bird meal, mash and red bubbly two weeks before you kill it. Real red with froth. 8.8/10.

Scarpantoni Black Tempest, Sparkling Shiraz  (NV), $28. You could start any occasion with this despite the threatening title which may lead one to suspect that it will blow you over after a few glasses. Actually that would take about 6 glasses. 8.6/10.

Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, 1994, $65. Old for a bubbly, it’s a wonder Seppelt could resist the temptation for so long, but just as well they did, because it lasted only 2 weeks in my hands. Complete with crown seal, this is serious red wine with bubbles, for serious occasions such as swanning it on the 77th floor (the top one) of Australia’s tallest apartment block. A fantastic match for the view. 9.3/10.

© Max Crus

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