Fresh back from a trip to the sunny deep south, I am a bigger fan than ever of the region’s bubblies. Not to mention amazed at Rudi Bauer’s dedication to making high quality sparkling wines in what can only be described as a totally hands-on labour of love at his Cromwell winery.
Rudi was the first professionally trained winemaker in Central Otago and his outrageously good value for money, Quartz Reef NV, is made in the same way as champagne, only with fewer resources than most champagne houses could shake a stick at. He and his small team spend busy days disgorging their bubbles on a small but busy production line where they aim to do 3000 bottles a day. No mean feat, considering all the complexities that go along with great bubbles, most notably keeping the wine in the bottle while getting rid of its intense yeasty sediment, then topping it up with reserve wine, all the while retaining quality and bubbles in the bottle.
Rudi's winery, Quartz Reef, is relatively unusual for Central Otago because he makes so much bubbly each year - it is about 40 per cent of his overall production, while Pinot Noir makes up the remaining 60 per cent.
His sparkling wines include Quartz Reef NV, Quartz Reef Rosé NV and, now, the 2013 Quartz Reef Blanc de Blancs - which will be in store at Regional Wines in the next couple of weeks.
It's a ridiculously tasty bubbly and we look forward to sharing it with customers.
Watch this space.