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A father
and daughter
team is one
of the driving
forces behind
the surge in


November/December 2016



SUCH is Rutherglen’s renowned reputation
for fortifieds, especially its muscats, that
it’s easy to forget that it is also home to
some fine, big-hearted red table wines
like durif. Few regions reward cellar door
visits more than Rutherglen, and for that
matter Victoria’s North East, as on offer is
a stunning array of off-beat, exotic cellar
door-only varietals and museum release
back vintages - it would make Francois de
Castella proud.
But this is but part of the story, as tucked
away unobtrusively on Chiltern Rd is
Anderson Winery, a mecca for sparkling
shiraz enthusiasts or “spurglers”, myself
included. Spurglers was a term coined in
1991 by wine scribe Ian Loftus, the creator
of what was once known as National
Sparkling Red Day.
Maligned, marginalised and summarily
dismissed by serious critics and the wine
cognoscenti in much the same way as
local sparkling wine and rosé once were,
sparkling reds (think mainly shiraz) have

long been an acquired taste, mostly among
ageing baby boomers.
And for good reason, as many of the
earlier Aussie sparkling reds were an
execrable afterthought, crudely carbonated
and sloppily made from inferior fruit.
They were invariably syrupy, full-on,
overpowering, tannic, fizzy fruit bombs – a
legacy from which the category has never
fully recovered.
Until now! Just as there’s been a rosé
revolution there is a subliminal sparkling red
renaissance in the wings led by the likes of
talented father and daughter team Howard
and Christobelle Anderson. The pair make
some sublime, magnificently mouth-filling,
luxuriant “liquid red caviar” that would
satisfy the most fastidious palate.
Howard’s flagship red fizz is a “shiraz (with
a touch of durif) that is a serious sparkling,
not just a sparkling that just happens to be
made from shiraz”– and there’s a world of
difference. The Anderson 2002 Cellar Block
and the current release 2009 Sparkling

November/December 2016



The pair make

some sublime,


luxuriant ‘liquid
red caviar’ that

would satisfy the
most fastidious

Shiraz are but two examples.
Howard and Christobelle believe that
many sparkling reds suffer from a lack of
varietal definition: “they are just bubbly
red wines; our aim is to show the fruit’s
inherent richness and character, and to add
complexity via extended contact on lees”.
The appeal of such wines lies in the
savoury, spicy complexity that extended
time on lees and bottle age imparts, and
their rich, creamy, smooth, satisfying mouth
feel. Visually in the glass, their mousse
looks like liquid purplish, red caviar!
Such bespoke, top-quality wines are
meticulously made from premium quality
fruit and show inherent complexity, varietal
character and finesse; however, at best, still
represent a niche market.
Their provenance dates back to the
classic Seppelt Great Westerns of the
mid-1940s, namely a 1944 and ’46 Seppelt
Sparkling Burgundy (Shiraz) made by
the famous Colin Preece in tandem with
the talented Leo Hurley - which a young
Howard Anderson tasted in 1971. He was
instantly enthralled.
As Christobelle says: “Dad was born in
1946, so as a young 25-year-old winemaker,
tasting a sparkling red the same age
as himself and one two years older, that
were both still remarkably fresh, and like
nothing else he’d had before…well, he still
talks about it, and that experience really
switched something on in his brain”.
Howard was senior winemaker at Seppelt
Great Western from 1971 to 1984 during
which time he occasionally filled in at the


then Seppelt in Rutherglen. He chose to
put down roots in Rutherglen in his quest to
make full-bodied reds and sparkling reds in
the old Seppelt Great Western style.
In 1986 he was senior winemaker at
Jolimont Cellars, where Tuileries restaurant
and Rutherglen Estates cellar door now are.
It was there he made a 1986 Sparkling Pinot
Noir (white) and a 1986 Sparkling Cabernet
under the Jolimont label when no one in
Rutherglen, or north east Victoria (not even
Brown Brothers) made sparkling wines.
After his stint at Jolimont Cellars there was
a brief partnership with Max Cofield in the
late 1980s which saw a Cofield-Anderson
sparkling red. Then in 1992 Anderson
Winery was born. Incidentally, Cofield’s son
Damien makes a mean sparkling shiraz
of his own these days, as do many other
Rutherglen vignerons.
Significantly 2016 is the 30th anniversary
of the first sparkling wines being made in
North East Victoria. These were made in
Rutherglen by none other than Howard
Anderson. Few would know this, as the
quiet, unassuming Howard hides his light
under a bushel, he prefers to let his wines
speak for themselves.
“Dad’s obsessed with quality, he respects
tradition yet paradoxically embraces new
ideas – he’s very thorough and if the best
method is time consuming, difficult, fiddly
and unfashionably expensive, then so be
it,” says Christobelle.
The savvy Christobelle graduated from
Adelaide University’s Waite campus with
honours in 2003 and joined her father at

November/December 2016

Anderson Winery in 2005 after stints at
Brown Brothers, Rutherglen Estates and
overseas in Alsace and Champagne.
With both his still and sparkling reds,
Howard aims to get a full, rich mouthfeel
without high alcohols. Most Anderson reds
sit at 14-14.5 per cent which is comparable
to Heathcote’s, McLaren Vale’s and the
Barossa’s counterparts. The recently
released 2010 Cellar Block Durif epitomises
this philosophy.
Anderson’s 8ha vineyard comprises
plantings of shiraz, durif, petit verdot, chenin
blanc, viognier, tempranillo, muscat and
the Georgian varietal saperavi. A sparkling
saperavi is due for release in 2017.
There is something Cervantes-like about
making sparkling reds as those who do are
perceived as continuing to “tilt at windmills”
and seem perennially caught in a Catch
22 situation - wine show judges seldom
take sparkling reds seriously (hence many
producers avoid shows) while sommeliers
either remain ignorant of their existence or
obsessively pre-disposed to cool-climate
wines. That’s despite them being very
food friendly.
What better way for some Gen Ys and
millennials, currently drinking whites, like
sweetish moscato or a drier prosecco, to
transition from whites into reds than via a
well-made Anderson sparkling red.
Previous page: Anderson shiraz, Christobelle and
Howard Anderson.
Top: Storm over Anderson Winery, Rutherglen.
Opposite page: Howard Anderson pruning, Barrels at
Anderson Winery, Howard Anderson pressing reds,
Christobelle & Howard Anderson bottling.

November/December 2016



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