On the blogby Alfred
December 5 2019

Bubbles

by Sébastien Légasse

Despite its international reputation for quality, champagne is not the only one using this method to make bubbles. The Champagne specifications, which determine the requirements from the vine to the bottle, are one of the most rigorous, but the price is also higher. Other products using the Champagne method include Crémant, Italian Franciacorta and Spanish Cava. In all these cases, a second fermentation takes place in the bottle to obtain the sparkling effect. The variations are therefore to be found in the choice of grape varieties and the aging duration. Sometimes we find a cuvee that, for a much lower price, offers impeccable quality and complex aromas of bread and pastry, comparable to many high-end champagnes. However, the champagne vintages offers us products of a very high quality, giving us assured happiness!

Another way is to use the closed vat, also known as the Charmat method, used to make wines like Prosecco. It does not offer the same range of flavors, combining more fruit and floral flavors. The base wine is usually matured in stainless steel vats, without malolactic fermentation. The latter, used with champagne, transforms malic acid into lactic acid, which brings aromas of butter and hazelnut. The second fermentation takes place not in the bottle but in tanks and the wine is then bottled under pressure. This method is much faster and cheaper. If the grapes are of high quality and the care taken during vinification is attentive, the wine will certainly be of high quality.

The Asti region of Piedmont produces a relatively sweet sparkling wine. The grape juice is kept in a cool place and at the time of its production, it is heated in tanks and part of the carbon dioxide produced during alcoholic fermentation is preserved. It is a product with about 7% alcohol rate, ready to drink with residual sugar. At the basis of the methods for making bubbles, you can inject carbon dioxide into a base wine, but hey, I’ll let you draw the conclusion!

Elsewhere in the world, Germany stands out with the highest per capita consumption of sparkling wine with more than 400 million bottles per year and about 82 million inhabitants.  The production of Sekt, an effervescent wine generally using the Charmat method, is popular with consumers.The basic wines often even come from France or Italy and the processing takes place locally. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the United States also produce sparkling wines. The best vintages use the traditional method, often with Pinot noir and Chardonnay, and for entry-level products, the Charmat method prevails.

What connects all these sparkling products is the festive aspect they bring and the joyful events they highlight. Life is always more beautiful with champagne. I raise my glass to Edith and Renaud Collet, who made me discover, in my very early twenties, the splendor of the Champagne vineyard. Cheers!

AlfredThe sommeliers community in your pocket.

Begin your Alfred journey today: Sign Up