(I wrote this article a few months back for a lifestyle print magazine, which means a different tone than the usual).
He is known as the king of Australian bubbles. The fizz whisperer. Mr sparkling wine.
Yet everyone just calls him Ed.
For such a famous figure in Australian wine Ed Carr – Accolade’s Group Sparkling Winemaker and the man behind bubbles from Arras, Bay of Fires and Hardys St James – is quite unassuming and shy.
Even when pressed, Ed never brags about his experience. Experience that has led him to become Australia’s most awarded sparkling winemaker, with over 120 bubbly trophies to his name, in a career spanning 34 years of winemaking (with 27 devoted to fizz).
Heck, Ed even has one of the most expensive sparkling wines in the country named after him (Accolade’s Arras $140 EJ Carr Late Disgorged sparkling).
It’s that devotion to a singular winemaking style, though, which makes Ed interesting, largely as so very few winemakers spend their whole career with such singular purpose.
Indeed when he was in town recently to showcase the latest additions to the Arras label, it was the extra detail in Ed’s head that intrigues. Like how he’s been using a different strain of malolactic bacteria (which is used in the winemaking process to convert harder malic acid into rounder lactic acid) to give more distinctive diacetyl ‘bready’ richness. Or how the new wave of Tasmanian vineyards are helping to make sparkling wines that are ‘elegant’ without ever being ‘weak’.
Ed has been important to Tassie wine history really, as he (and Hardys/Accolade, who he’s worked for since ’94) can be credited with the push towards Tasmania as a sparkling wine destination 18 years ago.
You can see the latest results of Ed’s handiwork in the brand new A by Arras Premium Cuvee NV ($25), a premium sparkling wine (curiously restricted to Dan Murphys/BWS) produced exclusively from Tasmanian fruit and showing a level of sophistication and complexity almost unseen at the $25 pricepoint.
Likewise, the exceptional 2001 Arras Blanc de Blancs ($80) carries the depth and flavour of vintage Champagne, yet at a discounted price. The only challenge is that, as Ed well knows, convincing Australian drinkers that our top sparkling can compete with the Champenoise is still a challenge.
Or could that be the ultimate goal for this sparkling wine king?