Bubbles from Way Down Under: Jansz Premium Cuvée Brut from Tasmania with Lobster Tartines (#WorldWineTravel)

A bottle of bubbly from Jansz Tasmania, pairs beautifully with a tartine topped with lobster, leeks, and mushrooms.

I’ve been taking a summer vacation from the blog for a few weeks, and as I’m reemerging this week, I think it’s only appropriate to toast with a bottle of bubbly. 

Today we’re going way, way, way Down Under. We’re picking up our exploration of Australian wine, and we’re going about as far south in the country as you can go to Tasmania. Australia’s Island State is known for its Devils, gorgeous scenery, and incredibly clean air. It’s also a pretty ideal place to make sparkling wine – so let’s go ahead and pop a bottle!


An Intro to Tassie Wine

Map borrowed from WineFolly.com

Tassie wines are still somewhat undiscovered gems. They represent less than 1% of Australia’s wine production, but they’re known for their quality, and as a result, this is one Australian winemaking region where demand outpaces supply. 

Despite the production numbers being small, winemaking history goes back to the early days of Australia’s European settlement. Its first vineyards were planted in 1823 – which gives it a potential claim over the Hunter Valley, which is generally cited as Australia’s oldest region. The issue is that after its early start, winemaking on the island pretty much dried up for about a century starting in the second half of the 1800s and then reemerged in the 1950s, so it hasn’t been continuous. 

Tasmania is way down south – located between the southern parallels of  40° and 44° latitude, about 150 miles (240 km) off the coast of Victoria. As you can probably imagine, things get can get chilly around these parts, so the grapes they focus on as pretty different from much of the rest of mainland Australia. Rather than Shiraz, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon which like the heat, we see grapes that like the cool maritime climate take center stage here. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay take the top spots for plantings, and those are followed by Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. (We saw this in the Yarra Valley* in Victoria, and now we’re even farther south.) 

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay also happen to be the grapes most traditionally used for traditional method sparkling wines, and much like Champagne, cooler climates tend to be perfect for making bubbly as the grapes retain lots of crisp acidity. Lo and behold, Tasmania has developed a reputation for making some of the country’s best sparkling wines. Moreover, Australia’s first sparkling wine was made in Tasmania in 1826.

Tasmania’s landscape is dominated by dolerite-capped mountains which give the island its complex geography with many varying terroirs and micro-climates. Most notably, the mountains on the western side create a rain shadow that blocks the majority of rain from hitting the island’s seven major growing areas: North West, Tamar Valley, Pipers River, East Coast, Coal River Valley, Derwent Valley, Huon Valley / d'Entrecasteaux Channel. 

Thanks to the shifting and colliding of continents, plus volcanoes, and the movements of bodies of water, Tasmania’s soils are incredibly diverse. If you have a few minutes to geek out, check out this video for a mind-bending look at their geology.

The Wine: Jansz Premium Cuvée Brut Tasmania 

Alcohol: 12%  | Price: $19.99 (Purchased at K&L

Jansz Tasmania has been solely focused on sparkling winemaking since 1986. Champagne house Louis Roederer saw similarities between the climate in the Pipers River region, where the original vineyards are located, and that of Champagne, and they decided to partner with the owners of Heemskerk Wines to create Tasmania’s first premium, traditional method sparkling wine house. The Hill-Smith family purchased the property in 1998 and they’ve established it as one of the most highly regarded family-owned sparkling wine houses in Australia. 

The winery’s name pays homage to Tasmania’s namesake, the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman who first sighted the island in 1642. When the vineyards were first established in 1975, they were named after Tasman’s ship, the Heemskerk. 

Image borrowed from Jansz's website.

The Pipers River region has a maritime climate but also gets a lot of sunshine hours, making it excellent for grape-growing. Cool winds from the Bass-Strait also helps to moderate temperatures in the vineyards from becoming too extreme both in the summer and winter, resulting in a long, cool, sunny growing season that allows the grapes to ripen slowly and develop their flavors.  The Janz vineyards here sit on a bed of free-draining red basalt soils, which also adds to the minerality of the wines. 

The wines are made in traditional method and they've put a little spin on the "Méthode Champenoise" and call their take "Méthode Tasmanoise":

Méthode Tasmanoise is the embodiment of every aspect of our unique place. It goes beyond terroir, beyond winemaking. Méthode Tasmanoise encapsulates our Tasmanian way of life and our respect for our environment, the natural wilderness, our clean air, fertile soils, pristine waters, the untamed oceans. It celebrates our unique crafts and the synergy between our wares and our surrounds. Most of all, Méthode Tasmanoise embraces the people that call our island state their home

The Hill-Smith family owns several wineries around Australia and they are all run sustainably. They lay out quite a few of the details of their practices here. The particular bottling we’re talking about today is certified sustainable and vegan friendly.

We opened the Jansz Premium Cuvée Brut Tasmania NV and were greeted with notes of lemon cream and apple blossom on the nose. On the palate, the wine was crisp and bright with a mixture of crunchy green and gold apples, lemon juice and curd, white peach, a hint of berry, a touch of toast and brown sugar, and lots of salinity.

For the price, this is a lovely bottle of bubbly.

Geeky Details

Blend: 66% Chardonnay and 34% Pinot Noir

Winemaking:  Hand-picking, gentle whole bunch pressing, cool fermentation, 100% malolactic fermentation, complex assemblage, and extended aging on lees after bottle fermentation, all combine to produce a stylish and complex wine. To maximize complexity in the final wine, batches are kept separate during winemaking. Released with a minimum three months of bottle age.

Winemaker: Jennifer Doyle
Details are taken from the tech sheet. Additional details can be found here and here

The Pairing: Lobster Tartines with Leeks and Mushrooms

In looking up what foods are commonly grown and produced in Tasmania, I discovered that it is one of the world’s leading suppliers of lobster and abalone. Pairing this bubbly with buttery lobster seemed like a perfect way to go! 

Lobster need not be fancy. In this case, I decided to serve it on grilled bread as a tartine, or open-faced sandwich, topped with sautéed leeks and mushrooms that I thought would bring out the wine’s more earthy notes and tease out hints of herbal flavors. In the end, the dish I came up with to pair with this wine is more about assembly rather than any elaborate cooking.

I ran into one tiny snag when I went to the grocery store – no lobster. No abalone either. I found my solution in the freezer section via Luke’s Lobster pre-packaged knuckle and claw meat. It proved quite tasty and very convenient. (I was addicted to Luke’s Lobster rolls when we lived in New York.) I simply thawed the meat and tossed it all in warm, melted butter and heated it gently, then sprinkled it with a bit of included seasoning. 

The only thing on this dish that required real preparation was the leeks and mushrooms, and that only requires only a few ingredients and little attention. Despite this, the combo becomes really saucy and flavorful. I use the same mix in many different ways including to top all kinds of proteins, mixed into a grain bowl, on a sandwich, or in an omelet or quiche. If you add more stock or water it becomes a fabulous base for a soup, and if you stir in a touch of cream when it comes off the heat, it's fabulously completely decadent. 

In this case, as I mentioned, I layered the leeks and mushrooms on slices of buttery grilled bread, along with arugula, and the buttery lobster meat. The pairing was just lovely and worked even better than I’d hoped. The wine would show different facets with each bite. With the buttery sweet lobster meat the plumper, riper fruits note would come out. The char on the bread at times brought out the wine’s toastiness. At other times, earthier and more minerally notes came out to play. Mostly, it was simply delicious and refreshing with the tartines. 



The rest of the World Wine Travel blogging group (#WorldWineTravel) is exploring the wines from Tasmania, as well as other Aussie Sparklers and Stickies this month. Check out the rest of their posts:

Additional sources used for this post and extra reading: 



  1. First, I totally geeked out over the video with the geology of Tasmania! Thanks for that!
    Second, that dish! OMG I was drooling while I was reading.
    Third, you found such great details on Jansz!
    Lastly...it's nice to have you back on your blog! Cheers!

    1. Thanks Robin! I had a lot of fun reading your experience with the wine as well. So glad you found that video to be as much geeky fun as I did!

  2. I read this sentence and thought to myself how it reads just like Washington state: "Thanks to the shifting and colliding of continents, plus volcanoes, and the movements of bodies of water, Tasmania’s soils are incredibly diverse." Cooler, though. I'm fascinated by Tasmanian sparkling wine now and must try one!

    1. You know, I had a similar thought as I was writing it! Thanks Linda

  3. Your lobster tartines look fabulous and what a pairing!

  4. You had me at lobster! And what a great price point on this wine.

  5. Oh I didn't know you were taking a vacation from the blog. I'm so glad you decided to come back and join for this event. I didn't know Jansz had a female winemaker or that it had a connection to Roederer. And I will take some of that lobster tartine too please. Your pairings are always perfection!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!