Home' Scoop : Scoop 59 Autumn 2012 Contents 228 SCOOP AUTUMN 2012
Despite being the world’s
most high-profile sparkling wine, champagne (as
in, made in Champagne) accounts for less than a
tenth of worldwide bubbly production.
The other 90-odd per cent – prosecco, cava,
cremant and sekt, to name but a few – have in
common with champagne a base wine blended
from various vintag es and grape varieties which
then undergoes secondary fermentation to create
those all-important bubbles.
But unlike champagne, not all these sparkling
wine styles undergo their secondary fermentation
in the bottle. Nor do they always sit for very long
on their lees – the bits that gather in the bottom
of the bottle as the wine ferments.
Manufacturers of sparkling wine have become
adept at using terms (‘aged on lees’, ‘estate-
bottled’) to imply a level of sophistication and
compexity that may or may not be justified.
Four methods are used to make sparkling
wine around the world.
There’s more to quality sparklers
than champagne, but how do you
spot a good one? Jane Cornes
navigates the sea of bubbles
Most quality bubbles, including Champagne,
utilise the time-consuming methode champenoise.
However, Australia’s agreement with the
EEC forbids winemakers outside of Champagne
referring to this traditional process on their labels.
Instead, they use the terms traditional method,
methode traditionnelle and, in Italy, metodo classico.
The transfer method involves ag eing
wine in the bottle but transferring it to large
tanks for filtering before being bottled. This
is often a good compromise between the
labour-intensive traditional method and the
Charmat process (see below). Wines made
this way are sometimes labelled ‘bottle ag ed’
or ‘bottle fermented’.
By far the most popular way to make sparkling
wine in bulk, the Charmat process sees wine
undergo its secondary fermentation in large tanks
before being filtered and bottled for sale. Wines
made this way tend to be more delicate, less
complex – and, ultimately, cheaper.
The final method is carbonation, which
results in large, short-lived bubbles and is used
only in the cheapest sparkling wines.
Scoop undertook a tasting of over 50 sparkling
wines. We’re sure you’ll agree that the results –
shown right – make for interesting reading.
Method All four methods of sparkling
wine production are used. Be guided by
price and refer to the label for help in working
out how it’s made.
Ageing on lees Australian sparkling wines
labelled ‘methode traditionelle’ or ‘traditional
method’ have usually spent a minimum of nine
months on lees, although as we go to print
new definitions are being considered by Wine
Australia. Also up for revision: wine labelled
‘bottle aged’ or ‘bottle fermented’ must have
spent a minimum of six months on lees.
Houghton Wisdom Vintage 2007 Classy
bubbles made with Pemberton fruit. The final
vintage for this lovely wine.
Jane Brook Estate Elizabeth 2008 A less
complex but well-made traditional method
bubbly at a reasonable price.
Mann Wines Cygnet Blanc 2009 Made from
a grape variety discovered by Dorham Mann
and grown commercially only in the Swan Valley.
Released in August every year, it sells out fast.
THE REST OF AUSTRALIA
Arras Brut Elite NV The standout of our
tasting. Picked by some of Scoop’s more
We tasted 50 bubblies
(someone had to do it)
to find the best
Links Archive Scoop 58 Summer 2011 Scoop 60 Winter 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page