Sittella: A Sparkling Success
Barry Weinman: 8th December 2021
2021 marks the 20th year of sparkling wine production at Sittella and to celebrate, the winery has released several new wines that are really quite extraordinary.
The winemaking team is headed by Colby Quirk and Yuri Burns and the duo have a singular ambition to produce the finest sparkling wines in Australia. To achieve this lofty goal, the pair are going to extraordinary lengths.
Firstly, in the vineyard, extensive work has been done to improve quality, with a very labour-intensive approach taken to ensure that growth and yields are appropriate for the vintage conditions.
All fruit for the sparkling Chenin comes from the Swan Valley, whilst the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir come from Pemberton, a region that similar climatic conditions to the Adelaide Hills and the upper Yarra Valley.
Secondly, they have set up a state-of-the-art winemaking facility in the Swan Valley winery. Alongside this, the team have built a degree of technical and practical expertise that is very impressive.
For example, they have adopted a somewhat oxidative approach to handling the juice which, counterintuitively results in greater freshness in the sparkling wines, whilst also dropping the amount of phenolic grip.
Another key winemaking strategy is the very tight approach taken to balancing the amount of total acidity and the pH. The aim is for a low pH and total acidity around 7g/l.
The result of this attention to detail is that the dosage can be kept relatively low, given the inherent quality and balance of the base wine. Even the sparkling Chenin, for example has only 7g/l of residual sugar.
The final piece of the puzzle is the ambitious reserve wine program they have embarked on for their sparkling wines. The Cuvee Blanc, for example, has the inclusion of 20% reserve wines. This is tipped to grow over time as stocks continue to build.
The release of the 2016 vintage sparkling range cements Sittella as the best sparkling wine producer in WA and has set them on a path to be the best in Australia.
Production of the vintage wines are very limited, so I encourage you to try them whilst they are still available. And the wines are a bargain in the global context!!!
Sittella – Brut – Chenin Blanc – NV. For the volume seller in the range (accounting for a third of the winery’s of entire production) this wine gets remarkable attention to detail. (100% handpicked fruit from mature vineyards, traditional method, 12 months lees ageing, low dosage.) The result is a pretty and floral wine with crunchy pink lady apples and a hint of lemon. With excellent length and mouthfeel, this is fresh, vibrant and perfect for a mid-afternoon drink. No food required. Excellent value! 91pts – $25
Sittella – Cuvee Blanc – NV. The base wine (2020 vintage) is fermented in a combination of old oak and stainless steel, with the addition of 20% reserve wines from the 2014 – 2019 vintages adding depth and complexity. The mouthfeel here is a highlight: Creamy, supple, gently textured and fine. There is depth to the fruit, but this possesses a lightness that is hard to resist. The subtle lees characters allow the fruit to be the focus. As it warms in the glass, the stone fruit characters build. 93pts – $34.
Sittella – Cuvee Rose – NV. Like the Cuvee Blanc, the fruit is hand-picked and has a similar composition of reserve wines. Again, there is a creamy texture, but here the red fruits get a chance to express with gentle strawberry notes courtesy of the inclusion of a small amount of a base red wine made from Pemberton Pinot. This is all complemented by gentle brioche notes. Gentle tannins add supple grip. This would be best served with foods such as Peking duck. 94pts – $38
Sittella – Grand Vintage – Blanc de Blanc -2016. This is an amazing wine. Very fine and refined, with subtle power shimmering across the breadth of the palate. There is great length and a drying finish that possesses excellent balance (Dosage 5g/l). A couple of years under cork should reward greatly and I have pointed this accordingly. 95pts -$50
Sittella – Grand Vintage – Marie Christien Lugten – 2016. Richness and power to the fore here. This has more of the brioche characters on the palate and excellent depth and texture. This is less approachable than the Blanc de Blancs and needs a few years to really flesh out. A serious wine that also happens to be sparkling! 96pts $50.
Sittella – Grand Vintage – Rose – 2016. What a beautiful wine. Pristine fruit, the subtle power and depth presenting with grace and elegance. As it warms, the fruit weight really shines. Made with the addition of 10% red wine using specific clonal selections to produce the vibrant colour. A portion of malolactic fermentation adds creamy texture. 95+pts – $50.
Sittella – Avant Garde – Blanc de Noir – 2016. This has a wow factor and is the most complete of the vintage wines on release. Pretty, but complex and powerful, in a food friendly style that is textured and almost chewy. Very different and very good. The bread-like yeasty notes are more notable here and fits the style perfectly. A clonal blend of 100% pinot. 4.5 years on lees. Disgorged June 2021. 95pts – $75
Sittella – Grand Prestige – Late Disgorged – 2009. This spent an incredible 12 years on lees and is 50/50 blend of Pinot and Chardonnay. The result is complex, distinctive and very impactful. Packs so many different aromas into the glass with toast, brioche and gentle nuttiness. There is even a hint of charcuterie plate in there somewhere. Yet this is fresh and vibrant. $120 seems too cheap. 96pts.