Now that the countdown for the Christmas and holiday season has begun in earnest with the advent calendars let loose, the sound of popping corks is quite deafening. Let’s face it the Champagne houses have successfully spent their fortunes over the past 100 odd years to make the sound of the cork and celebrations synonymous.
Today, there seems to be more choice than ever in brands of sparkling wine but also in the style of sparkling wine. It seems that we are very spoiled for choice here in Australia. Not only is there a great range of vintage and non-vintage fizz using the same methods and grapes as used to make Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a little Pinot Meunier), but also some interesting blends using different grapes and a choice sweetness levels now exists at different price points.
Many sparkling wines are slightly sweeter than they seem. The extra sugar is needed to balance the higher acid, but is not usually noticeably sweeter. However, just as there is a move towards offering a choice of sweeter sparkling wines, there is also quite a few wines that are bone dry without any or with little additional sugar at all. Chandon ZD Blanc de Blanc 2005 is the current offering from Domaine Chandon in Australia (ZD = Zero Dosage = no added sugar).
In Australia, for those who enjoy a sweeter style of sparkling, there is Evans and Tate Zamphire with a cool new resealable bottle closure and with some Sauvignon Blanc in the blend. Others include Four Sisters Non-Vintage, Yellowglen Bella and Chandon Cuvee Riche. Then there are the Moscatos such as Peter Lehmann Princess Moscato and Chalk Hill Moscato that will be covered next week. Of course, you cannot forget the Italian Spumantes such as Riccadonna which are classic sweeter fizzes.
The USA has a few sweeties around too. Mumm Napa have their Cuvee M, Gloria Ferrer adds some Muscat grapes to the classic blend in their Va de Vi and Schramberg has a Cremant Demi-sec.
Next week, we will look at some alternatives to the classic Pinot Noir, Chardonnay blends.
Please note: Some of these wines have not been tasted by the winemuse team and have been used as an example rather than a recommendation. Wines that have been tasted will be reviewed on this site or Friday Drinks Club.