Published on December 6, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Nothing beats toasting a celebration with a glass of bubbly. A flute of fizz signals a special occasion, whether a wedding, Christening or even a day out with friends. And who doesn’t love celebrating ‘Fizz Friday’ at their favourite pub or bar? But are Prosecco and Champagne your only options for a glass of fizz this Christmas and New Year? Charles Elliott from Lanchester Wines offers the following must-read guide to fizz for every taste…
PROSECCO AND CHAMPAGNE
Prosecco and Champagne are ‘controlled destination of origin’ products, meaning they can only be made in specific areas from specific grapes.
• Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France around the city of Reims about 80 miles (130 km) nort east of Paris. It is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, and is produced using the costly ‘Traditional Method’
• Prosecco is made in the Veneto region of Italy around the city of Treviso about 15 miles (24 km) north of Venice. It is made with Glera grapes using the more affordable Tank Method. Prosecco can be spumante (sparkling wine), frizzante (semi-sparkling wine), or tranquillo (still wine)
But these two styles of wine are not our only options when it comes to sparkling wine. Here are a few options for drinkers looking to be more adventurous with their effervescence.
Produced in Spain, Cava’s taste is closer to Champagne than Prosecco and is even made in the same way as Champagne, but with different grapes. Importantly, Cava is usually a fraction of the price of Champagne. Cava is primarily made with Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo grapes, which are all white grapes. It may also be made with Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red), Garnacha (red) and Monastrell (red). These grapes create a balanced fruity sparkling wine which is less sweet than Prosecco but not as nutty as Vintage Champagne. Cava DO (denominacion de origen) is the official classification of Cava. It can be produced throughout Spain but most Cava is made in Penedes (next to Barcelona) and in the Ebro River valley (in Rioja). Try Castell d’Olderdola Cava Reserva Brut or Castell d’Olderdola Cava Brut Rosado
English Sparkling Wine
Did you know, the terroir in the English wine growing regions is the same as the terroir in Champagne? The same seam of chalk runs under the Channel and informs the terroir of both the Champagne region and the South of England (Kent, East Sussex, and bits of Hampshire) and, thanks to climate change, it’s now warm enough in these areas to grow grapes good enough for wine production. Champagne is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, which are also grown in England and used to make English sparkling wines. However, English wine isn’t governed by the same strict regulations as Champagne meaning there’s more flexibility for new grape combinations and flavour profiles.Try Bolney Bubbly, Bolney Cuvée Rosé or Nyetimber Classic
As with England, Australian vineyards also grow the Champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In the 80s, the Champagne producer Moët & Chandon started scouting for a location in Australia to start making its own fine Australian sparkling wine, settling in the cool climate region of Victoria (the home state of Melbourne). The calibre of Australian sparkling wine today is higher than I have ever seen before, thanks to the resilience and sheer determination of Australia’s vineyards and wineries. Definitely a wine style to try! Try McPherson Chardonnay Pinot Noir
Looking for something different and guaranteed to make an impact? Why not try a sparkling red? Sparkling reds are not as rare as you think and can be a welcome change at any celebration. The three main styles include Australian Sparkling Shiraz, Italian Lambrusco and Brachetto d’Acqui, and some fantastic sparkling reds are also coming out of South America, including Argentina and Chile. And, of course, don’t forget the English sparkling! Try Bolney Cuvee Noir or Gouguenheim Sparkling Malbec The sparkling wines mentioned in this article are available across the North East through Lanchester Wines. Ask your local bar staff for more details.