Australia's most celebrated sparkling wine, Arras, has undergone some significant cosmetic changes leading into its 2003 release. Gone is the Bay of Fires branding, which has been replaced by the House of Arras label, while its new, grandiose squat bottle now adorns a luxuriant gold insignia, making the whole presentation look remarkably similar to some Grand Marque Champagnes.
Fizzing away in the glass with racy, crackly and stringy bead, the pale-gold 2003 Arras opens to intense, openly fragrant, rich and creamy aromas of nougat, creme brulee and almond meal overlying notes of bakery yeast and white nectarine. Despite its rather obvious winemaker influence the nose shows real vitality, freshness and a synergy of man and nature. Notably deep and complex by Australian standards, the palate unloads a quirky combination of sweet-toned savoury notes, which ride with layer upon layer of chewy richness and citric effervescence. In fact, as it penetrates with a luscious undercarriage of sweet bread, honey and almond flavours topped off by a long wash of sparkling grapefruit-like acids, it's evident the substantial richness and weight of this wine contrasts that of other tighter, finer Arras wines.
ü It's not the best Australian bubbles I've had (that honour still belongs to the 2001 Arras-96pts), but it does reflect what could be a change in direction towards something more profound, rich and complex from the masterful Ed Carr. Drink to 2013.