The Changing Face of Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines
Sparkling Wine

Champagne has been the dominant sparkling wine category of as long as anyone can remember.

Sparkling wine, in the mind of connoisseurs, meant champagne, although many other regions both in France and outside of it, made and continue to make such wines. Demand for sparkling wine has been increasing recently, with young people enjoying a glass or two after work or before dinner.

Prosecco, from Veneto, made inexpensively using the Charmat method, has been gaining popularity for a few years now. Prosecco is fruity, maybe dry, but mostly is, off-dry, and easy drinking.

English sparkling wine of the past were too light and acid, but now with global warming and new improved viticultural practices, several wineries compete successfully even with champagnes in “blind tastings”. English sparkling wines of good quality are still relatively expensive compared to Prosecco, and most others from France and elsewhere in the world.

Cava, from Spain, especially Catalonia (San Sadurni di Noya), was dominant brand for a long time in the middle-of-the-road restaurants and cocktails, mainly because of its low price.

The Loire Valley, Limoux, Alsace, and Burgundy also produce remarkably good sparkling wines at less than half the price of champagne. Champagne enjoys a world-wide reputation because of marketing, and the lightness, fragrance, and its invigorating mouth feel. Now there are many New World wine producing countries that make fine sparklers at reasonable cost.

South Africa with its Methode Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling wine using methode champenoise taste fine, are fragrant and balanced. Graham Beck, KWV, and Simonsig are onyl a few of the 80 plus wineries involved in sparkling wine production.

Chile is now waking up to its potential with vineyards in Bio Bio and further south, taking advantage of the cool climate prevailing there. Cono Sur, Undurraga, Montes, Vina Leyda, and Errazuriz are well known fro their flavourful sparklers.

Argentina has much long sparkling wine production history than Chile. Moet et Chandon started there in 1960, and continues to produce successfully. Zuccardi, and Mumm have started their wineries more recently. The future of sparkling Argentine wine looks bright.

Brazil also produces its share of sparkling wine. Moet et Chandon opened a facility in 1970’s for method traditionelle and Charmat wines.

The U.S.A has a vibrant sparkling wine production industry in California, and to some extent in New York State. Moet et Chandon, and Roederer (both French) and Codorniu from Spain have been producing sparkling wine in California for decades. Schramsberg also from California, is a small, but highly regarded, well established sparkling producer.

Potentially, Oregon the next state north of California; could produce fine sparkling wines using chardonnay, and pinot noir, both of which are already grown successfully.

Canada’s Ontario, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia produce very fine sparkling wines using the Charmat method. Ontario produces much of what is consumed, but British Columbia’s sparklers taste every bit as fine in their own right. Nova Scotia is relatively new in the game, but has been successful with its mehtode champenoise sparkling wines, i.e Benjamin Bridge brand.

Australia’s Tasmania and Victoria could potentially produce sparking wines. Jancz from Tasmania is already well established. J. Chromy is now beginning to produce sparkling wines. There is no doubt this winery will be very successful in its endeavour. The Mornington Peninsula in southern Victoria and Yarra Valley will soon enter the market with their sparkling wines. Austrtlaia sweet sparkling Shiraz has some followers.

New Zealand is a relatively new comer to the sparkling wine production although the South Island has a lot of suitable land for growing suitable fruit. Deutz (from France) started operations there a few years ago. Other notable New Zealand sparkler producers are No 1 Family Estate, Huina, Nautilus, Akarua, Quartz, Sileni, Reef and Jacob’s Creek are well worth watching.

Sparkling sauvignon blanc is a new comer to the scene with flavourful products.

One country with as huge potential in both production and consumption is Russia. Russians love sparkling wines and were enthusiastic consumers of Crimean sparkling wines when the region belonged to Ukraine. Russian wine makers invented a new and fast method of sparkling wine production to keep up with demand.

The Don River, Krasnoyarsk, Daghestan produce suitable grapes for sparkling wine.

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