Nadeson Collis

Lethbridge Originale: “Incredible Sparkling Wine with Uncommon Depth of Flavour”
Nadeson Collis

As you can tell from Mike Bennie’s Freudian slip, Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis are crafting some of Australia’s most original and adventurous sparkling wines. It is perhaps surprising that, for a set of wines whose first commercial release came as recently as 2019, the genesis of Lethbridge’s sparkling project goes back to 2003. These curious winemakers then decided to experiment with a perpetual reserve akin to the solera system used in Champagne, most famously by Selosse and with many others following suit.

 

From the start, Nadeson and Collis knew they wanted to craft something wholly unique. As all great wines do, it began with the right site. Jack Doeven’s Drumborg vineyard is as chilly as they get. As Ray explains: “Once you have a great, cold site that gives fruit with high acidity, you’ve got the starting materials to play the long game for sparkling.” Next came the method, which draws from their favourite Champagne growers and their own winemaking experience in the Moorabool Valley.

 

In the cellar, barrel fermentation, extended lees aging, zero sulphur and wild yeasts (anathema to most sparkling winemakers) form the building blocks of the riveting and deeply complex wines the pair hope to achieve. And, of course, the thread that ties the wines together—and the source of much of these wines’ multilayered, savoury personalities—is Lethbridge’s cherished 20-year-old perpetual reserve.


There’s a lot of froth and often little substance in the world of sparkling wine. Nadeson Collis is the real deal. “The wine needs to be complex first, so when you drink it, there’s a journey,” says Ray. These deep and daring wines push the boundaries of what we think sparkling wine in Australia should or should not be. Tasting is believing.

The Wines

Nadeson Collis Inception NV
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Nadeson Collis Inception NV

Disg. Aug. 2023. As Champagne drinkers, Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis have always had a soft spot for the richer wines of the Côte des Bar. Ray sees similarities between the Côte and Jack and Lois Doeven’s well-established site in Drumborg. It’s very cool and home to low-yielding vines on schist soils.

Inception is the first step on the Nadeson Collis journey, predominantly Chardonnay (89%) from 2020. The remaining 11% is drawn from the 20-year-old perpetual blend, which includes small portions (approximately 15%) of Pinot Noir and Gris from the Doeven site and a small portion of Meunier from another cool site in Drumborg. The fruit is pressed as whole bunches and ferments naturally in barrique and foudre. The wine matured in wood until June 2021, after which it rested on lees in bottle until disgorgement in August 2023. Dosage was a low 1.5 g/L.

“Really full, textural and rich sparkling with honey, toast, nutty and very strong saline characters rolling around. Vinous in a way, but full-bodied, a touch of sherbetty lift and light white vinegar tang, a funky kind of fizz with lots of personality, vivacious feel and gentle bubbles. Lots of complexity and interest here.”
93 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
Nadeson Collis Inception NV
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Nadeson Collis Millesime 2011
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Nadeson Collis Millesime 2011

36 bottles only. Disg. Oct. 2019. Made only in exceptional years, Millésime spends a staggering 96 months on lees―a number almost never seen in Champagne. Jack and Lois Doeven’s chilly Drumborg vineyard provides the fruit for this Blanc de Blancs, and the site’s inherent energy is heightened in this particularly cool year. The Lethbridge approach reigns supreme when it comes to the cellar: wild barrel ferments, full malolactic conversion, exposure to oxygen and no sulphur. “We’re making wine first and bubbles later,” explains Ray. “The base wine must be complex; the complexity is what frames the journey.” This is a floral, savoury beauty, rich with elegance, precision and a strikingly detailed close.

“…the 2011 Millésime is a refined, pure expression of chardonnay with the lemony, biscuity layers of flavour that come from nine years on lees.”
Max Allen, Australian Financial Review
“Strong sea spray, wet fern, lemon-lime and blossom scents with whiffs of grilled nuts in the mix. Brisk across the palate with a lean, racy pulse of salty acidity, crunchy green apple and lime juice. Some richness in oily notes, slightly distracting buttery-soapy, really long and fine finish compensating with a starburst of pulpy grapefruit finishing things. Refreshing, energetic, bright and intense. Works in two speeds, stays interesting in whatever gear you find it in.”
92 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
Nadeson Collis Millesime 2011
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Nadeson Collis Coda NV
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Nadeson Collis Coda NV

Disg. July 2023. Coda is the seed that grew. Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis began their sparkling wine quest in 2003 with some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the chilly Doeven site in Drumborg, Henty. Each year, they added to that original base wine, creating a perpetual blend that is now over 20 years old. Like many things at Lethbridge, the solera approach was born of organic evolution rather than a preconceived outcome, but it has become Lethbridge’s sparkling flagship and is one of Australia’s most strikingly unique sparkling wines.

The blend is predominantly Chardonnay, with small amounts of Meunier, Gris and Pinot Noir. Each draw-off removes enough for just 300 or so bottles, and the wine spends a further two years on lees before disgorgement with zero dosage. Unlike the other wines in the range, Ray sees little benefit in having Coda sit on lees in bottle for a long time. “The solera goes back to 2003; the desired result from bottle aging has already been achieved in barrel over the last 20 years,” says Ray. “The work has already been done.”

“Wow. This is impressive. Wild. So nutty, savoury, whiffs of fino sherry, dried apple, faint farmhouse cider. Rich in the way it sits in the palate but with bright zing of acidity and very fine, light bubbles. Hugely nutty flavours too, more fino, maybe amontillado even, so complex, so interesting, rich, powerful statement in its way and so very delicious. An experience in the glass. Brilliant.”
96 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“This magnificent multi-vintage sparkling wine is for people who like their fizz bone-dry, super-complex and with heaps of rich, nutty, yeasty, savoury flavour. Not for sipping as an aperitif: drink it out of large wine glasses with wild mushroom risotto.”
Max Allen, Australian Financial Review
Nadeson Collis Coda NV
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Nadeson Collis Rosé de Saignée 2020
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Nadeson Collis Rosé de Saignée 2020

Disg. March 2024. Jack and Lois Doeven’s Drumborg site is again the source for the Rosé de Saignée. Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis have worked with this site for 20-odd years, placing great value on the vineyard’s high natural acidity at full ripeness. The composition here is Meunier at 42%, Pinot Gris at 39% and Pinot Noir at 19%. Nadeson destemmed the fruit to barrel for fermentation and used a rolling ferment, adding parcels as they came into the winery. The wine spent 12 months in large puncheons and underwent full malolactic conversion. After three years on lees in bottle, the wine was disgorged and topped up with wine from the 20-year-old perpetual reserve. As is Ray and Maree’s preference, there was no dosage.

It’s no secret that Ray Nadeson seeks power, structure and flavour in his wines, and this Rosé de Saignée is no different. Offering up aromas of crushed flowers and berries, spice and vibrant minerality, the structure is delicate yet potent, with a deep core of fruit, driving length and a tight, lasting finish. It’s a gastronomic tour de force; try it with tuna tartare or grilled salmon. 

Nadeson Collis Rosé de Saignée 2020
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“The sparkling wines under this new label are distinct... 'Reminds me of Selosse, but of course is wholly its own thing' slipped out of my mouth as I was tasting it." Mike Bennie, The Wine Front



“The result, called Coda, is extraordinary: an incredible sparkling wine with uncommon depth of flavour.” Max Allen, The Financial Review



“People talk about playing a long-game in the wine industry, but few adhere to it like Maree Collis and Ray Nadeson of Lethbridge Wines, and less still can point to a project as patient and committed as the Nadeson Collis range of new wines.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front

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