Introductory Guide to Sparkling Wines from Around the World
It’s easy to follow your habits and choose Champagne whenever searching for some bubbles. It is a tried-and-true choice that never goes out of fashion, at least not until the present time.
Champagne is admired all over the world, and for a good reason. However, Champagne doesn’t hold a monopoly over sparkling wines. So yes, it is the most popular choice, but there are so many fantastic sparkling wines out there!
From the new world to the old world, we give you a glimpse into the bubbly world of sparkling wines. Consider this your cheat sheet for sparkling wines. Oh, and while we’re at it, if you’re wondering “Is Champagne Wine?” then the answer is yes, but we’ve written a great article on that too.
Crémant is a term used in France to describe sparkling wines produced with the same methods as Champagne. That means the second fermentation happens in the bottle. Most Crémant wines go from $15 to $35, which is half the average price of Champagne. Crémant sparkling wines are almost by default, dry and brut.
The most famous Crémant comes from Alsace and is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Sometimes it is made from Pinot Noir. This sparkling wine is very popular in the United States due to its excellent quality and excellent price point. Burgundy’s Crémant is based on the same varieties as the one from Alsace. The sparkling wines made in the Burgundy region are regarded for their richness and style.
In the past, sparkling wine was reserved only for some selected areas in the northern part of Italy. Nowadays, these wines are made in every part of the country, and Italian sparkling wine is famous all over the world.
Prosecco is one of the most famous sparkling wines from Italy that is made in the Veneto region from a variety known as Glera. Nowadays, most producers make Prosseco in large steel tanks, while only a few wineries still use traditional methods. They allow for the second fermentation to take place in the bottle. As a result, there is a fine residue on the bottom of the bottle. The fine residue adds a certain amount of depth and flavor to the wine and makes it even tastier.
California’s love affair with sparkling wines is well documented and long-lasting. Jamie and Jackie Davies had the first commercial success with their sparkling wine after they took over the Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga. Soon after their takeover in 1965, they presented their sparkling wines. They had instant success, and in 1972, their sparkling wine made it in the White House.
Today, Calfornia’s superb growing conditions for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have drawn interest from Old World winemakers. Many French and Spanish winemakers already have outposts in Napa, where they make their sparkling wines.
Australia & New Zealand
When someone mentions a sparkling wine, someone rarely associates that with Australia or New Zealand. But the truth is that both New Zealand and Australia offer a wide range of delicious sparkling wines that are also wallet-friendly.
Sparkling Wines are made all over Australia, from Victora’s Yarra Valley to Adelaide Hills. They are the crown jewel where the best sparkling wines are made. The diversity of this wine region is yet to be fully understood, and all signs point to a bubbly and bright future.
New Zealand’s climate is ideal for the production of premium sparkling wines. The biggest issue there is that many winemakers have turned toward the Sauvignon Blanc as it is cheaper to produce and less labor-intensive. But there are still those that excel in making sparkling wines.
South America & South Africa
South Africa’s sparkling wines are well known among wine aficionados worldwide. They have a wide selection of sparkling wines based on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, or Pinotage. Their wines range from complex and mature to fruity and fresh. Furthermore, there is a decent sparkling wine for even those with the smallest pockets. Folks that don’t have budget limitations can go for their premium wines that are labeled as Méthode Cap Classique.
South America’s sparkling wines are mainly present in their local markets, and only a small percentage is exported in the US or other countries. Brazil is the primary producer of sparkling wines in South America. Most sparkling wines are based on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Sometimes they use the Moscato variety to make bubbly wines. Typically, their sparkling wines are characterized by notes of citrus, massive freshness, and crispiness.
Austria and Germany
Germany is known for its Deutscher Sekt sparkling wine, which is top-notch. But at the same time, it is hard to find it outside Germany as most of it is consumed there. It is a very complex wine featuring vigorous mouthfeel and bristling acidity. Deutscher Sekt is made from varieties such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, or Riesling. The Austrian’s Sekt is similar to the Deutscher Sekt. Thanks to the long growing season, it is characterized by abundant fruit flavors and rounded yeast texture. This sparkling wine is also made with traditional bottle fermentation.