Unless champagne’s marketing men disappear, their sparkling wine will always be the first choice for celebrations. But many countries get their wines to sparkle using the same techniques as those of champagne. But they can’t say so on the label.
The word ‘champagne’ has the full protection of the law – only sparkling wine made within the northern France region of Champagne can call itself this. Any English or Spanish wine maker foolish enough to put this word on the label will get their collar felt.
Unfortunately metodo tradicional doesn’t have the same cachet as méthode champenoise. That’s why champagne sells for one hundred pounds and a bottle of English sparkling, like the now world-famous Sussex Nyetimber Classic Cuvee, sells for a quarter of the price (Hennings Wine stock the 2010 £24.95) and Spanish cava such as Codorníu’s Seleccion Raventos NV is amazing value at £9.99 (Majestic). This high-class wine uses the local grape varieties Macabeo and Xarel-lo grapes plus the universal Chardonnay to produce a sparkler with Opal Fruit (no Starbursts here), lemonade and set-honey flavours.
But how are they made?
Champagne, and the rest of the world’s metodo tradicional, winemakers make their wines sparkle by adding a dose, or dosage, of extra sugar and yeast to a previously bottled wine.
This causes fermentation to restart and its by-product carbon dioxide gas to be captured within the bottle – strong thick-walled bottles must be used to maintain the resulting high pressures. Opening the bottle allows the gas to escape and cause the characteristic froth and bubbles.
PG Wine Reviews
Co-op Truly Irresistible Spanish Cava
A light lemony and nutty tasting fizz.
Amorany Spanish Cava Brut Gran Cuvée
Expect lemon, melon and biscuity flavours.
Codorníu Spanish Cava Seleccion Raventos
A really great fizz that keeps on delivering year after year. Best matched to Asian foods. Nice.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Presecco Superiore Brut 2015
Light apple flavours.
Chandon Brut Méthode Traditionnelle, Argentinean
The Chandon on the label refers to that rather well-known French company Moët et Chandon who formed an off-shoot in Argentina as long ago as 1959. And boy does it make good wine. With slightly more flavour than its French version, this south American sparkling delivers nutty biscuity flavours that need to be matched with food – try smoked salmon if you can get it.
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© Paula Goddard 2016 www.paulagoddard.com