Sparkling wines from around the world

According to Oscar Wilde, “only the unimaginative can fail to find a reason for drinking Champagne.” A fair point, but modern drinkers have plenty of alternatives to fire their imaginations and fill their glasses. Today, sparkling wines around the world offer incredible quality and value, and are the perfect accompaniment to long summer days and outdoor socialising. 

France’s Crémants are made using the traditional method and come from one of eight designated regions: Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Alsace, Loire, Die, Jura, Limoux and Savoie. Historically, these wines had slightly less effervescence than Champagne and a creamy texture (crémant meaning creamy in French), although styles now vary. Grape varieties are dependent on region, but all Crémants are hand harvested and most undergo a minimum of nine months ageing on lees, not far off the twelve-month minimum for non-vintage Champagne.

The long history of Spanish sparkling wine began in the late 1800s when Josep Raventós Fatjó began using the traditional method with indigenous varieties, primarily Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, and produced the first Cava. Unusually, the Cava Denominación de Origen dictates production methods but not location, although the vast majority is produced in Penedès. In 2012, leading estate Raventós i Blanc left the Cava DO, instead labelling their wines with the ‘Conca Del Riu Anoia’ geographic region. Since then, several other Penedès producers have opted out of the DO to focus on regional identity and more stringent production methods. The momentum and evolution within the region make it an exciting time to drink these wines. 

Across the new world there are regions producing premium sparkling wines with great finesse and complexity. From Tasmania’s cool coastal areas, to Mendoza’s soaring high-altitude vineyards, to the mountain foothills of Central Otago, and beyond — these are wines worth celebrating. 

For everyday bubbles with a sense of occasion, northern Italy offers plenty of sparkle. The first bottles of the newly-created Prosecco Rosé DOC have arrived, ready for warmer months and outdoor get-togethers. The introduction of Pinot Nero adds a flush of pink and lovely red berry notes to these fresh, fruity wines. Another wine perfect for summer days, Lambrusco offers a light sparkle with refreshing acidity and sweet red berry flavours, guaranteed to liven up any barbecue.

Ca' di Alte, Prosecco Rosé 2020

The quality of this wine begins with the grapes. Hillside vineyards south of Vicenza achieve lower yields, better ripeness and allow the development of aromatic compounds during the cooler nights. An addition of 10% Pinot Nero to the traditional Glera results in intense aromas of peach, raspberry and ripe passion fruit in this fresh, harmonious Prosecco.

Ca' Morlin, Prosecco Rosé 2020

The aim behind the Ca’ Morlin wines, which Liberty Wines makes together with Conegliano-born Andrea Morlin and consultant winemaker Matt Thomson, was to produce real Prosecco: clean, fruity, fresh, frothing, uncomplicated and gulpable. The new Prosecco Rosé, a blend of Glera and Pinot Nero grapes hand harvested from 13 and 20-year-old vines respectively, is no exception.

Villa Cialdini, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro 2020

Cousins Anselmo and Mauro Chiarli took over the historical Villa Cialdini estate in 2002, with the ambition of making top-quality Lambrusco. The mature vineyards are mainly planted with Grasparossa, a lower yielding and more concentrated clone of Lambrusco. This sparkling red wine is a true expression of the variety with an intense fruit-forward character and refreshing acidity, perfect for drinking slightly chilled in summer.

Kaiken, Método Tradicional Brut NV

The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for this wine are sourced from a vineyard situated at 1400 metres above sea level in the Gualtallary sub-region of the renowned Uco Valley. One of the highest-altitude zones in Mendoza, it is famed for producing fresh yet balanced fruit, perfect for sparkling wine production. This traditional-method sparkler delivers light citrus notes with beautifully balanced acidity.

Arras, `A` By Arras Premium Cuvée NV

Ed Carr, the man behind Arras, has been making sparkling wines in Australia since 1986 and was one of the first winemakers to see the potential Tasmanian fruit had for producing world-class sparkling wine. Tasmania’s cool climate areas of Pipers River, Derwent Valley and the Tamar Valley offer long, slow ripening conditions, resulting in wines of elegance and complexity. This cuvée of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier spends three years in bottle on its on lees before disgorgement and blending, followed by at least 6 months in bottle before release, giving it a rich but fresh flavour.

Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard, Crémant de Bourgogne `Le Grand Lys` 2016

Made from 100% Pinot Noir from a certified-organic single vineyard overlooking Saint Aubin, this Crémant de Bourgogne encapsulates the philosophy of the domaine which seeks to produce wines with a ‘sense of place’. 'Le Grand Lys' is aged on its lees for three years and is richer and more complex than many wines from this appellation. It has lovely concentrated flavours of white fruits, sweet pastries and toasted almonds supported by crisp, refreshing acidity and a delicate mousse.

Domaine Stéphane Aladame, Crémant de Bourgogne Extra Brut 2018

This Crémant highlights the often ‘under the radar’ region of Montagny in the Côte Chalonnaise. An attractive blend of 60% Aligoté and 40% Chardonnay from Stéphane’s Montagny vineyards, the wine has a floral character with notes of fresh citrus, a supple mousse and crisp mineral undertones. It ably demonstrates the excellent value to be found in this region.

Raventós i Blanc, Blanc de Blancs 2018

Certified biodynamic and made with grapes from the north-facing Vinya del Llac vineyard, the 2018 Blanc de Blancs is a blend of native varieties: Xarel-lo, Macabeu, Parellada and Malvasia de Sitges. Situated alongside the estate’s lake, the site has a unique microclimate which gives a longer ripening period and well-developed aromatics in the wine. The Blanc de Blancs is aged on lees for 18 months, bringing added complexity. The nose has delicate notes of citrus fruits, white flowers and soft Mediterranean herbs. The palate is round and well balanced with a superb freshness, fine bubbles and mineral notes on the persistent finish.