Does Cup weekend signal the start of party season? If you’re not in that mode already, the answer is almost definitely yes. Because sparkling is an essential part of the mix – and you might just be of a mind to toast a winner or four over the next week – we’ve pulled together a bunch of Australian Wine Companion’s highest raters.
The parameters: each rates 94 or above, and comes in between $26 and $50. They’re also from the latest, 2015, edition of Companion, in which James Halliday writes that most of the best sparkling wines are now solely sourced from Tasmania, and the remainder from the coolest sites in the southern parts of the mainland (and dominated by the Port Phillip zone). Altitude plays a big role. “They are all fermented in the bottle, and the best have had extended lees contact prior to disgorgement, giving them great complexity,” James writes. Of 374 sparkling wines tasted, 8.8 per cent were 95 points and above.
In this 35-strong line-up, four rated 96 points, nine scored 95, and 22 came in at 94. They’re presented here in descending order and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the best are at the top end of our arbitrary price ceiling. Of course, some vintages may have rolled over, but in those cases consider it a recommendation of top producers to seek out.