Game-changing insectarium helping Coppabella's sparklng evolution | John Lewis

GAME-CHANGER: Jason Brown's Coppabella vineyard is fighting vine enemies and erosion with predatory insects.
GAME-CHANGER: Jason Brown's Coppabella vineyard is fighting vine enemies and erosion with predatory insects.

WITH 76 hectares of vines, Coppabella is Tumbarumba’s largest single vineyard and home to an insectarium – a game-changing concept in which predatory insects eliminate or greatly reduce the use of pesticides and combat erosion.

Insectariums have been used in numerous Australian vineyards and orchards and involve the planting of areas of native vegetation that attract bees, ladybirds, lacewing wasps and damsel bugs as predators for vineyard pests such as vine moth caterpillars.

Coppabella has established corridors planted to native species that have revegetating erosion zones and provided pollens and nectar to nurture the beneficial predatory bugs.

Coppabella has chalked up an important milestone with the recent release of its $60 Non-Vintage Cuvee Prestige sparkler reviewed below. It’s a base wine blend of pinot noir and chardonnay from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages, given five years’ lees ageing.

Owner Jason Brown says up until now, Coppabella produced three entry-level sparkling wines – a prosecco, a pinot noir rosé and a single-vineyard, single-vintage base blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meuniere – and Cuvee Prestige was the next stage of the brand’s sparkling evolution.

Canberra-born and raised, Jason worked in his parents’ chain of ACT liquor stores and then took up commerce and accountancy in the giant KPMG group. There he met his wife and fellow wine enthusiast Alecia, with whom he bought Moppity vineyard, 12 kilometres south-east of Young, in 2004.

The 69-hectare vineyard, Hilltops’ second-oldest, has brought the Browns many awards, among them the 2014 Visy Great Australian Shiraz Challenge with the Moppity 2013 Reserve Hilltops Shiraz.

In 2011 the Browns spread their wine empire to Tumbarumba by buying the vineyard established in 1993 by that area’s founding father of wine, former Lindeman’s winemaker Ian Cowell.

Ian, who was convinced the Tumbarumba could produce top-rank sparkling wines, planted its first vines in 1981 on what is now called Revee Estate in Courabyra Rd and today the region has 265 hectares of vines in 20 operational vineyards. 

Originally called Tralee, the Browns’ vineyard is sits up to 650m above sea level and Jason and Alecia renamed it Coppabella – a return to the property’s name when it was settled in the 1800s.

WINE REVIEWS

MULTI-LAYERED BUBBLY

THIS fine, multi-faceted Coppabella Non-Vintage Cuvee Prestige melds 2011, 2012 and 2013-vintage pinot noir and chardonnay base wines and is brassy hued, nougat-scented and has tiny, busy bubbles. The front palate shows crisp citrus flavour, the middle palate strawberry, brulee and flint and the finish slatey acid. It’s on coppabella.com.au. PRICE: $60. DRINK WITH: sushi. AGEING: six years.

RATING: 5 stars

CLARE VALLEY VALUE

THE Mitchell 2013 Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz is purple-tinted crimson and has 14.5% alcohol, berry pastille scents and ripe plum front-palate flavour. Morello cherry, peppermint chocolate, licorice and cedary oak integrate on the middle palate and chalky tannins play at the finish. It’s at mitchellwines.com.au and the Clare Valley winery. PRICE: $26. DRINK WITH: cutlets. AGEING: five years.

RATING: 4.5 stars

RIESLING REFRESHMENT

IN a word, “refreshing” fits the Shaw Vineyard Estate 2017 Winemakers Selection Riesling. It’s pale straw and has jasmine aromas and elegant lime front-palate flavour. The middle palate has kiwifruit, apple peel and gunmetal characters and flinty acid at the finish. It’s at shawvineyards.com.au and the Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman, winery. PRICE: $18. DRINK WITH: quiche. AGEING: four years.

RATING: 4.5 stars