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ounded in 1889, the Brown Brothers vineyard in north-East
Victor ia, Australia, has been making wine for 125 years. Ironically,
up until recently there haven’t actually been many ‘brothers’
involved in the vineyard but cur rently there are two sisters,
Caroline and Kather ine Brown - daughters of Brown Brothers Executive
Director, Ross Brown - who are passionate about the family business.
I met Assistant Winemaker and Brand Ambassador Kather ine and
Public Relations Manager Caroline at an Auckland wine tasting,
featur ing 24 wine families from across Australia and New Zealand, and
they had one var iety on their minds – Prosecco. I had to come clean - I
haven’t tr ied a lot of Prosecco other than when I lived in the UK for
a short time, and I ignorantly thought it was a sweet sparkling wine,
similar to Moscato. But Kather ine says this isn’t necessar ily the case. “It
is up to the winemaker to deter mine the sweetness of the Prosecco,”
she says. “At Brown Brothers we make our Prosecco in a dry style. Our
grapes are picked early in the season to retain nice hints of green apple
and lemon sherbet.These flavours come naturally from the grapes,
ensur ing the wine is filled with flavour, but certainly not sweet.”
With Australia cur rently being one of the top 10 countries to import
Champagne, I wondered why Brown Brothers decided to produce this
less-common sparkling var iety? “Dur ing a trip to Europe about five
years ago we saw the Italians enjoying sparkling wine at all hours of
the day, not just for a celebration, but for refreshment,” says Kather ine.
“With Australia’s [war m] climate and our passion for the European
lifestyle, we saw that the Prosecco trend would kick off here.
“With this in mind, we decided to find the best growing conditions
for the Prosecco grape in Australia. Looking at Italy, the conditions
required would be in an Alpine, cool-climate area, that has good
sunshine over the growing season. Luckily for Brown Brothers,
the King Valley mir rored these conditions and this area now grows
Australia’s premium Prosecco.”
Brown Brothers cur rently produces two var ieties - Prosecco and
Prosecco Rosé – and unlike their Champagne counter parts, both
are available in New Zealand for less than $20 a bottle. “Prosecco is
not the wine to put away and cellar for a momentous celebration,”
says Caroline. “It’s the perfect wine to have chilling in the fridge for
every-day occasions.” Kather ine agrees: “You can enjoy Prosecco on a
Wednesday night, just to celebrate getting past hump day.”
So will Prosecco continue to gain momentum in the sparkling
wine market? Brown Brothers Wine Ambassador Andrew Har r is
believes so. “The growth of the var iety is booming here in Australia.
Prosecco is relatively unknown and the discover y of the wine is
generating a buzz,” he says. “I think we are still around five to eight
years off finding out the full potential of this fantastic sparkling wine.
Most of our wine sales are domestic with a little export to New
Zealand and Singapore, so there are still a number of markets for us to
explore with Prosecco.” n
One Australian family winery is encouraging Kiwis to add
Prosecco to their summer sparkling selection. The Shout
editor Charlotte Cowan gets the inside knowledge on this
up-and-coming variety from Brown Brothers vineyard.
THE PROSECCO PROCESS
Brown Brothers Prosecco grapes are machine-harvested in the
coolness of the summer night, usually around mid-February (which
is earlier than many other varieties), with the aim of holding good
acid and lemon sherbet-like flavours.
Through a direct tipping process, the Prosecco grapes go through
a gentle press cycle to separate the juice from the skin and
stalks. The juice is then chilled as soon as it is pressed and moved
to stainless steel tanks for primary ferment.
Primary ferment is regulated at cool temperatures, between 12 and
16°C. A specialty Champagne yeast is used for the fermentation
which retains crisp acid and fresh flavours. It can take around 10 days
for this juice to become a dry wine. Secondary ferment takes place
in a pressure vessel offsite where the bubbles are naturally created.
This process of secondary fermentation, known as the ‘Charmat
Method’, gives a fine bubble and creamy mousse. The wine is then
held in stainless steel for about three months prior to bottling.
Brown Brothers Assistant Winemaker and Brand Ambassador,
Brown Brothers sisters Caroline and Katherine Brown
62 | December 2016 - Januar y 2017 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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