Sparkling Wine

Sparkling Wine

The wines of Champagne are not only the finest sparkling wines in the world, but also among the finest wines in the world of any kind. They are usually blended from three grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – and using different vintages to create a Cuvée (the blend). Good Champagne* is expensive for a number of reasons: It uses the Méthode Champenoise, the classical method of making Champagne; it uses traditional techniques such as second fermentation in the bottle; and the fermentation process is a hands-on (labor-intensive) operation.

Vintage Champagne:  These must be made only with the occasional outstanding grapes harvested in select years (printed on the label) and must be aged at least three years. Examples: Don Pérignon (Moét & Chandon), Comtes de Champagne (Taittinger), Belle Epoque (Perrier-Jouët), Grande Dame (Veuve Cliquot).

Non-Vintage Champagne: The majority are blends of wines aged for two or more years.

The Finest Champagne Cellars: Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchêne, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heidsiek Monopole, Henriot, Drug, Lanson, Lauret Perrier, Mercier, Moét & Chandon, Mumm Perrier-Jouët, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederet, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot.

The Other Regions: Loire Valley, France (Crémante); Asti (Spumanti) and Veneto (Prosecco), Italy; Catalonia, Spain (Cava); Germany and Austria (Sekt).

California: California uses white grapes such as Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Noir. In addition to California’s fine native producers, quite a few famous French Champagne houses and Spanish Cava producers are now making sparkling wine in California.

*Note. Only sparkling wine of the Champagne region in France can use the name “Champagne” in the European Union (EU) and many other countries.


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