The Person: Robert Hill Smith (owner) and Natalie Fryar (Winemaker)
The Place: The Piper’s River area of Tasmania
The Jansz winery is owned by the Hill Smith family who also own Yalamba. The winemaker, Natalie Fryar (that’s her in the picture), has been there since 2001 and before that she had five years of sparkling winemaking experience at Seppelt’s Great Western. As Tasmania – surrounded as it is by the cold water of the Southern Ocean – has one of the coolest climates of any new world wine region, it is ideal for growing sparkling wine grapes.
The combination of resources (Robert Hill Smith), winemaking talent (Natalie Fryar), and terroir in both climate and terrain (Tasmania) yields two wines that are consistently at the top of my list of favorite new world sparklers. I like both wines so much that today you get a “two-fer.”
JANSZ Brut, Tasmania, NV ($22.99)
Tech Note: 12% Alc. A methode champenoise blend of 58% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 2% Pinot Meunier aged two years en tirage (on the yeasts) before disgorgement and finishing. Sensory Note: Pale green straw in color and fully sparkling with a nice bead. Plenty of fizz. The yeast-and-fruit nose was evident even as I was pouring the wine. In the glass, I found yeast and toast notes along with citrus and floral as well as a bit of red fruit. There is even a Champagne-like mineral component along with enough richness to make this work well with food. It is crisp and fresh with a fine balance and very long finish. Delicious. BearScore: 92+.
JANSZ Rosé, Tasmania, NV ($22.99)
A 12.5% alcohol Methode Champenoise 68% Pinot Noir, 26% Chardonnay, and 6% Pinot Meunier made fully sparkling and finished with a dosage of .9% residual sugar. Spends about 18 months en tirage (on the yeast). Salmon in color, fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Crisp, fresh, refreshing Rosé offering strawberry and cherry essences along with a bit of citrus and an earthy mineral component that blends in nicely with the fruit and toasty yeast. Complete, pure, delicious. Great food fizz. BearScore: 92+.