Janice McDonald on 2015 Grand Jeté

  • Howard Park

Most people probably won’t even know about the 2015 Howard Park Grand Jeté release. It is a tiny make of wine – only 300 cases - so most people will not have the opportunity to taste it!

The magic of méthode traditionnelle wine is infectious, but over the last 10 years I have come to realise that the making of méthode traditionnelle wines is something you should embark upon in your youth. For it takes more than a lifetime to gain enough experience and understanding to even scratch the surface of the many nuances of aroma, flavour and texture that unite in great sparkling wine.

That first taste, the subtlety and complexity that lives in the bubbles, the intricate nature of the winemaking process - it is a most fascinating and complicated wine.

Our ambition at Howard Park is to be inspired by the great sparkling wines of the world then with dedication, skill, insight and passion, make sparkling wine that is expressive of our individual style and sites.

The Jeté sparkling adventure began with the planting of our Mount Barrow vineyard in the awesomely scenic and wildly remote Great Southern wine region of Western Australia.

The Mount Barrow vineyard is a very special place. Its sits on the hill side of Mount Barrow at an elevation of 300M with a panorama of vineyard aspects from north to south facing and 40kms from the Southern Ocean.  With little protection, the low-lying surrounding landforms allow for the cool ocean winds to influence the vineyard climate.

The soils of the site are ancient, weathered and shallow, with low to moderate fertility.

The combined effect of these ancient soils, low rainfall and exposed site has seen the vines develop slowly over the past 15 years and as such, yields are inherently low.

From our growing understanding of the Mount Barrow site and the méthode traditionnelle process the Jeté style is evolving.

The site naturally delivers a fine, mineral line of acidity which sets the style as aperitif; pure, crisp and bright. It is undeniably fruit-driven, so needs only light dosage to balance the fine acidity.

We are continuing to experiment with malolactic, barrel fermentation and reserve wine to create complexity but never to dominate style or overwhelm site attributes.

Presently our time on lees is 48 months for vintage Jeté, as we observe the fascinating transformation of the interaction of wine and yeast lees over time.

By global standards our venture is fledgling and our challenge is to always make high quality sparkling wine from special sites, to showcase our individual style.