Last month at a lunch to showcase wines from the House of Arras, I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Carr an award winning sparkling wine maker, (and no we are not related). I have asked Ed to share some of his background and the story behind House of Arras. If you haven't tried House of Arras sparkling before, then do yourself a favour and purchase a bottle.
What was the pivotal moment you decided in 1998 to produce a premium Australian sparking wine?
We first identified in 1994 that Tasmania was the best suited of all the cold-climate regions to produce sparkling wine from those we looked at around Australia. It was then in 1998 that the pivotal time came because it was our first opportunity to produce an entirely Tasmanian wine.
Terroir is critical in any wine style. We chose Tasmania as the base for House of Arras because of its cool climate and the fact that it is mostly dry over the summer and harvest period. This means that ripening is not generally an issue, so the wines show maturity of fruit but retain a great natural acidity and finesse.
Our wines express the purity, clean air and cold climate of this island, and ancient soils make the vines work a little bit harder to grow the grapes.
Since 1995, we have been developing vineyard resource throughout all the recognised (sub) regions within Tasmania to assess and expand varieties/areas that suit our style. We have progressively expanded the range and volume of the brand from selected vineyard sites primarily on the mid-east coast and southerly Derwent River Valley.
What inspired the name House of Arras?
Dictionaries show the meaning of the word ‘Arras’ as meaning ‘rich or intricate tapestry’. This resonated with us as we likened it to winemaking of this style e.g. weaving together all the threads of quality of viticulture and oenology to create the final wine.
What did you think when you tasted your very first sip of your own sparkling wine?
Although my first vintage as a sparkling winemaker was in 1986, the first vintage for which I was fully responsible as a Senior Winemaker was in 1988. This was released in 1992 - hence the first sip taking place. I remember being very happy with this wine in the current market but believed that there was still a long way to go to achieve quality parity with the premium sparkling wines of the world.
Did you grow up in the wine industry?
Funnily enough – no. Although most of my career has been in winemaking, it certainly wasn’t part of my initial plan. I graduated from the University of South Australia in the late 70s with a degree in Food Microbiology and Chemistry and worked for a short time in the dairy industry as a laboratory technician. I then moved to a similar role in a winery that was significantly involved with sparkling wine and I progressively became more involved with this wine style. In 1994 I moved to what is now Accolade Wines as Chief Sparkling Winemaker and we founded the House of Arras brand in 1995.
What’s your favourite sparkling wine?
Making a list does not do justice to those I miss but if I was too choose my current favourites then House of Arras Grand Vintage from my own stable comes out on top. With regards to Champagne, I have a diverse list including Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, Dom Perignon, Krug Grand Cuvee and Tattinger Comte de Champagne.