5 April 2024

Aussie wine expert Jane Ferrari uncorks exclusive behind-the-scenes champagne and wine experiences

| Kellie O'Brien
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Jane Ferrari

Jane Ferrari will lead two sparkling wine events at Balthazar Champagne Bar in Wollongong. Photo: Supplied.

Australian wine ambassador Jane Ferrari will pour on the fizz in Wollongong with behind-the-scenes champagne and wine experiences typically reserved for industry insiders, all without the intimidating jargon.

The beautifully appointed Balthazar Champagne Bar in Wollongong will host Bubbles Know No Borders on 10 April where participants will taste and compare French champagne, Italian prosecco, Spanish cava and standout sparkling wines from the UK and Australia, paired with tasting plates featuring oysters and chicken parfait to handmade chocolates.

The second event, Taste of Tassie on 11 April, will be a food and wine journey across one of Australia’s finest grape and food producing regions, featuring sparkling wine to rose, still white and pinot noir.

The events will be led by Australian Wine Communicator of the Year and Barossa Legend of the Vine recipient, Jane Ferrari from South Australia, who is renowned for her down-to-earth Aussie style of storytelling and humour.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to go along to an entertaining and informative ‘compare and contrast’ session where we’re going to go behind the scenes a little bit and explain why this looks like this in Spain and France, and why in England and Australia we’re working towards a similar end and why we can be so competitive,” she said.

“What’s coming out of England is setting the world on fire.

“These are the sorts of tutorials that winemakers and sales teams would sit down and look at and it’s not often that the general public get to do these sorts of classes.

“But you’re really doing it in a friendly environment and you don’t have to sit a test at the end of it to get out.”

Jane said the idea for the two events came from staff training sessions during Balthazar’s opening in December last year.

“Because you’re in the trade, you take it for granted a little bit that you know there’s about four different ways the bubbles can get in the bottle,” she said.

“But when you’re actually working with, even hospitality staff that have got some experience, you realise they actually don’t know.

“The whole idea is basically to give people an opportunity to explore a little bit without feeling intimidated.”

READ ALSO Wollongong’s new champagne bar ready to pop the cork

She said wine jargon in particular could be off-putting to some.

“For some reason, if you don’t understand the super fine details of an insurance contract, no-one seems to be too concerned,” she said.

“If you can’t say the name Gewurztraminer on a wine list, people tend to avoid it.

“What we’d like to do is really give people a chance to explore sparkling wine a little bit more, but doing it in pretty familiar surroundings and also with really interesting examples.”

She said the guided tastings weren’t about critically pulling a wine apart, but comparing and contrasting which was “the best way to teach”.

“We’ll be showcasing someone who I think personally is going to end up being a bit of a superstar down in Tassie, who is Natalie Fryer,” she said.

“Everything she touches pretty much turns gold, not by accident.”

She said Tasmania as a whole was becoming a state to watch.

“As far as classic sparkling white, I think Tasmania is the sparkling future of the country,” she said.

Jane said a large part of her approach was educating through storytelling that then empowered participants when making future wine decisions.

“I like to do it in a really entertaining and informative manner,” she said.

“The best thing is it’s quite within their possibility to then go down to Tassie and explore that on the ground.”

READ ALSO A growing love affair: How Cupitt’s Estate and Winery came to be

While with premium wine company Yalumba, Jane was a regular visitor to Wollongong when Balthazar Champagne Bar co-owner Sharon Arrow was Steelers Leagues Club boss.

“The regional markets have always been something I’ve probably been more interested in because regional areas tend to be a lot more staunch supporters,” she said.

“Once you’ve made friends and you’ve been included in their world, it’s almost like you go back as a local.”

She said she would love to have two to three sessions of full classes a year at the champagne bar.

“Their wine set is so diverse you could pull out a dozen different concepts that would be of interest,” she said.

“I think there’s a lot of people out there who like wine and when they actually go to these classes they’re thrilled because they realise that their palates are pretty tuned in.”

Sharon said participants could expect a premium experience, with the Illawarra fortunate to have Jane adding “another dimension to a wine event”.

“It’s going to be a real feast for the palate, so to speak,” she said.

“I think once you’ve been to an event that Jane hosts, you don’t ever want to miss another one because she’s just so endearing and really speaks in lay terms but makes it so interesting.

“No one has ever walked away from a Jane event thinking that they didn’t get value for money or entertainment or education – she puts it all into one package.”

Book a seat for Balthazar Champagne Bar’s Bubbles Know No Borders or Taste of Tassie.

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