Rene Redzepi's Noma serves up Canberra wine - savagnin from Sassafras

Natasha Rudra
Noma chef Rene Redzepi
Noma chef Rene Redzepi 

The lucky diners who scored a seat at Noma in Sydney have been sipping on a Canberra sparkling wine from a new winemaker.

Sassafras Wines' 2015 savagnin ancestral was served at the restaurant in Barangaroo earlier this week. 

Winemaker Paul Starr says Noma's head sommelier Mads Kleppe was being shown around "the newer edges of Australian wine" by writer Mike Bennie when he came across Sassafras.

"They had a look at our ancestral method sparkling wine out at Eden Road when visiting Canberra before the restaurant opened," he says. "Last week, Mads got in touch and ordered the wine, which we delivered yesterday for serving from today's lunch."

It's a bit of a coup for the fledgling Sassafras, which Starr and Tammy Braybrook started just last year, focusing on sparkling wine made with the ancestral method. 

Winemakers using the method create bubbles purely through natural fermentation, rather than adding yeast or sugar to the wine. 

"[It] involves stopping the ferment of the wine when it is almost done, then bottling the wine that still contains some live yeast and sugar. The ferment finishes in the bottle without doing the steps of the champagne process like riddling [turning the bottles] and disgorgement [removing the lees or sediment]," he says.

Starr says the savagnin was made from grapes grown at Quarry Hill vineyard.

"The wine is bright and crisp, with lemony apple character and a tiny bit of yeast sediment left in the bottle, so often the last glass comes out a little cloudy, just like a bottle-finished ale or cider," he says.

Canberra Times wine critic Chris Shanahan, who reviews the savagnin in his wine column next week, says it challenges the senses.

Before superstar chef Rene Redzepi moved Noma to Sydney from Denmark for a six month residency, he and his team combed the country for produce and ingredients.

His team came through the Canberra region last year, hunting for truffles and tasting wines.