We have learned a lot about Champagne. If you are just tuning in please read Santa Prefers Bubbles and Keeping With Tradition. While champagne comes from Champagne there is a sparkling wines from around the world waiting to be enjoyed.
All of these, with the exception of most Sekt, are made using the traditional method. There are some differences though. Grapes, climate, and time on lees vary and affect the flavors.
Chenin Blanc is a popular grape in Cap Classique and Cremant from the Loire Valley. These wines have more floral notes and body. Cava uses three indigenous grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Paralleda. Chardonnay has been allowed in Cava only in recent years. Cava is known for an earthy, rubbery flavor.
Nine months on lees are required and most are not aged as long as champagne. These wines will therefore have less yeast and attic flavors and in some cases more fruit.
There is a little variation from the traditional method that is sometimes used. It is called the transfer method. It is cheaper and eliminates the need for riddling. At the disgorgement step the bottles are emptied – lees, wine and all- into a pressurized tank. Lees are filtered out and the wine is dispensed into a new bottle. Critics claim the bubbles are less fine and the filtering process removes character. Bottles cannot say “traditional method” or “fermented in this bottle”. They can say “bottle fermented.”
Interesting tidbit. Moet & Chandon recently began making sparkling wine in India. Have you tried a sparkling wine from an unusual place? Tell us about it. Next post we’ll tell you about some sparklers from the Pacific Northwest plus share recommendations from our wine friends.