26 September 2023

The New World: a solution for Champagne’s producers

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By John Rozentals.

Willy Lunn: benefitting from an exhange of knowledge. Image: Wine Australia.

So, what do leading producers of Champagne do when sales of their favourite drop edge the limit of their particular appellation?

They venture to the New World, to seek out opportunies untramelled by niceties such as appellation.

Hence leading Victorian producer of sparking wines, Yarrabank, is a joint venture, first created in 1993, between one of the original producers of the Yarra Valley, Yering Station, and a champagne producer, Veuve A Devaux.

Of couse both sides of the operation will tell you that the motives were purely altruistic. They would, wouldn’t they?

Hence the Yarrabank website proclaims: “The venture reflects the committed vision of Champagne Devaux president Laurent Gillet, to produce a benchmark Australian sparkling wine. Combining centuries old tradition from Champagne with a contemporary approach to winemaking.”

And the website continues: “Since 1846 Champagne Devaux has only used Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes to create their distinctive style. They have brought their expertise to Yarrabank to produce wines with a perfect balance of ripeness and acidity to create their own unique Yarrabank style.”

One of the latest Australians to benefit from an exchange of knowledge is Willy Lunn, Yarrabank’s winemaker.

And the wines? They’re magnifique, of course.


Yarrabank 2013 Cuvée ($38): blended from two of Champagne’s main varieties, chardonnay and pinot noir, this is one of the ultimate aperitif styles. Enjoy it while standing around and elegantly chatting, dropping a few morsels of sushi or other delicate hors d’oeuvres. Look for citric acidity and notes of custard apple.

Yarrabank NV Creme de Cuvée ($38): There’s a touch of sweetness to this wine and a creamy palate, so it will stand up to foods such as lobster. In flavour terms the winemakers suggest you look for strawberry, stone fruit, citrus and pastry characters. Who are we to argue?


Yarrabank 2013 Brut Rosé ($38): The colour gives this wine away. The salmon pink indicates that red rpaes have come to the fore in winemaking and given the wine extra stength of palate flavour — and, in my mind, greater appeal than the other two. The acidity lifts the wine, and the winemaker’s notes are spot on: it’s delicious. Try it with fuller-flavoured dishes such as those featuring pork.

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