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Thursday 26 October 2023

Carr bubbling over bright new era for Arras

Esteemed fizzicist Ed Carr is all smiles.

Carr was in Hobart recently to show off the latest premium releases in the House of Arras range - Australia's most-awarded range of sparkling wines.

But GOTR also needs to ask him about the recent sale of the Arras brand to Handpicked Wines, a deal that was officially finalised today.

Handpicked announced last month it had acquired House of Arras from Accolade Wines including the brand, 24 hectares of premium vineyards, inventory and the Bay of Fires winery and cellar door at Pipers River, Tasmania.

Under the terms of the sale, Accolade has entered into a long-term agreement to continue to produce and bottle all House of Arras brands under contract with Handpicked Wines.

The grapes will continue to be sourced and pressed in Tasmania and the wines will be made at existing facilities in the Accolade network.

“I am thrilled that I can continue the House of Arras tradition as chief winemaker under the new ownership of Handpicked Wines," brand innovator Carr said.

"I look forward to being part of an enthusiastic and dynamic team that can further grow the global recognition of our Arras brand. Handpicked Wines is the right custodian to evolve and build upon our worldwide reputation as Australia’s premier sparkling producer.”

Handpicked Wines CEO and founder William Dong said: “We are proud to achieve such a significant milestone in our company’s history and, more importantly, being able to keep the Arras brand and its talented team together under the ownership of an Australian family-owned producer.

“We are confident that the Arras brand will further elevate our current portfolio of luxury brands and bring exceptional choice, craftsmanship and quality to our partners and customers. Ultimately, our focus is about creating storied and authentic brands that evoke a sense of well-being and longing. These core values and the energy is what lies at the heart of our company culture.”

When I chatted to Carr last week, he was very upbeat about both the deal, and the new premium releases from Arras, hitting the market in time for Christmas (below).

He's positively buoyant about the new chapter.

"I believe that this will be positive for the Arras drinker," he said. "Handpicked Wines are very much premium focused and they want to support the brand and take it further, so there is no need for lover of Arras to be concerned. 

"We will be looking at increasing the markets and Handpicked has good contacts and distribution channels.

"I think it will be positive for me; the wines will be made exactly the same way. Production-wise nothing will change, and quality will remain the focus - along with aged releases.

"We've settled into a pattern with a group of wines that are released after four years, another a group after eight, and others even longer."      

A brand new release you might want to consider is the first Arras Brut Elite Rosé Cuvée 1801 (around $65), a multi-vintage based rosé style that is a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier and is vibrant and elegant with impressive structure.

All the wines are, as you would expect, stylish, concentrated and elegant, but the ones that particularly took my fancy included the fabulous Arras 2015 Blanc de Blanc (around $95); the perfect match for Christmas seafood with just 1% of pinot noir in the mix alongside the chardonnay. This is super-elegant and impressively pristine.

For those looking for complexity, the 2008 Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged (around $200) has spent over 13 years on lees, building layers of flavours. Think green apple, spice and toasty notes as waves of pleasure penetrate your palate. 

Then there is the Arras Grand Vintage 2015 ($115); the 17th release of the classic with chardonnay comprising 66.7%, and pinot noir 33.2% of a complex, brilliantly fresh wine that showcases quality cool-climate Tasmanian fruit.

Whatever your budget, you really can't go wrong.  

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