Sparkling Wine, Sorted.
Choosing your sparkling wine...
The saga of the bubbles is one that often rears its head in our Knutsford shop. So we at Morgan Edwards, decided to pull together a handy guide for our lovely customers, about how to select and understand the many different sparkling wine options.
So if your wondering any of the below questions, then read on, we have the answers for you.
● What is the difference between Champagne and Prosecco?
● What is the difference between Cava and Prosecco?
● Is Crémant cheap Champagne?
Well, let’s start with the basics...
Champagne hails from the Champagne region of France which is around 80 miles North East of Paris whereas Crémant is produced more widely across France but still has to be in one of eight specific regions. Cava originates from the other side of the Pyrenees and is primarily produced in Catalonia whilst Prosecco is Italy’s answer to sparkling wine and is produced in the Veneto region.
Champagne is kept to strict rules and regulations in order to keep the quality high and as a result, it is only permitted to be produced using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Crémant’s tend to showcase the prominent regional grapes as in our fantastic Crémant de Limoux from Berry Bros where Chardonnay is blended with Chenin Blanc and Mauzac.
Cava is produced using a blend of Xarello, Parrellada and Macabeo grapes presenting a fresh and zesty style. And then there's Prosecco that uses just one grape. Glera is little heard of as a varietal but is produced on mass for Prosecco and gifts its light body and fragrant, floral notes to Italy’s sparkling offering.
Now, this is the difference that stands Prosecco apart from the others and is often what people ask about. The production method not only influences the style and taste of the wines but also the price. The method used for producing Champagne is known as the Traditional Method (aka Champagne Method, Méthode Champenoise, Metodo Classico, Méthode Traditionelle). That is fairly well known but what people don’t tend to realise is that Cava and Crémant is also produced in the same way! Prosecco is produced using the Tank Method (aka Charmat). For a more in-depth look into the methods Wine Folly’s write up is comprehensive. Essentially though the Traditional Method is much more complicated and time-consuming and produces richer wines.
Champagne will be the richest and most expressive of the Sparkling wines due to the grapes and production method used. Typically Champagne will offer fine notes of toast, almond and buttery creamy qualities with fruit coming from peach and apricot.
Crémant will tend to follow suit but will vary dependent upon the regional grapes used.
Cava will share the brioche and almond notes from Champagne but tends to be lighter and offer citrus or orchard fruits. Think yellow apple, lemon, lime and quince.
Prosecco is a lighter style with more floral notes. Honeysuckle and green apple tend to be prominent.
I always maintain that it is much harder to convince people to try Cava and Prosecco then it is to try different champagnes as people know different Champagne houses whereas Cava and Prosecco brands are much less well known. Cava and Prosecco tend to be solely price led whereas Champagne is usually purchased for the name, the experience. It is a real bugbear that people ask for ‘the cheapest Prosecco’ when there are so many great examples available. Prosecco is unfortunately sold on the fact it is Prosecco and not on its quality.
I highly recommend Maschio Dei Cavalieri’s offering for a show-stopping Prosecco – it’ll change the way you look at Prosecco. For Cava, Villarnau have forged themselves as the market leader and whilst we generally tend to represent smaller and less commercial producers, Villarnau is a very well balanced example of Cava. Champagne is still Champagne and everyone has their preference but Pol Roger’s Reserve Brut is always a go-to, however, our favourite fizz off them all is the Berry Bro’s Crémant de Limoux representing fantastic quality at half the price of entry-level Champagne. A true gem.
You don’t have to look too far for high-quality champagne alternatives. England offers some fantastic Sparkling wines and the market is certainly growing at a rate of knots. The vintages can be much more varied than those on the continent due to our seemingly increasingly dynamic weather. We picked out Digby as a fine producer using the Champagne method and grapes at a very reasonable price.
We have also teamed up with a local New Zealand wine importer who offers an interesting Brut Cuvee from ‘Haha’ made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but again at half the price of Champagne. Certainly worth a try!
So no need to travel the globe searching for your next sparkling wine, we have the finest of them all waiting for you in Knutsford, Cheshire.
If you have a favourite sparkling wine recommendation, we would love to hear them below...
‘I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not’ Coco Chanel