Champagne is a drink associated with celebration, and with Friday being International Champagne Day, it’s a great day to raise a glass of bubbles.
“Champagne has a pedigree of glamour and luxury, but if you want to support local winemakers on International Champagne Day, Aussie sparkling is becoming more renowned around the world for being a great and affordable alternative to champagne,” said Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director at Cellarmasters, Australia’s leading direct to consumer online wine retailer.
Here, Christine shares some facts about bubbles that you may not have known!
1) Champagne has been around for a long time
The Champagne region of France has been producing wine since the Middle Ages. In the 15th century, Champagne was renowned for being the finest wine in Europe and was prized for its health benefits by royalty across the continent. The first official Champagne house, Gossett, was founded in 1584 and is still in production.
2) Champagne grapes thrive in cool climates
Champagne is famously called so because of the French region in which it’s made, and as one of the world’s most northern wine regions, cool, slow ripening periods have been pivotal in the influence on the wine – in fact, the Champagne region has an average yearly temperature of only 10 degrees Celsius. In Australia, Tasmania is fast becoming the most recognised place for premium Australian sparkling wines, mainly due to the fact it has a super cool climate.
3) Mosman is Australia’s top champagne ordering suburb
According to sales data from Cellarmasters, Sydney-suburb Mosman tops the list of postcodes that order the most champagne in the whole country, followed by Rhodes (NSW) and Melbourne. To celebrate International Champagne Day on Friday October 20, Cellarmasters is hosting the ultimate battle of the bubbles with their Touring Cellar Door at the heritage listed Boronia House in Mosman. Wine lovers and locals are invited to blind taste champagne and sparkling wine, and give the verdict of which one they really prefer.
4) Champagne is actually an excellent food wine
Although often enjoyed just with canapés or on its own, champagne is one of the most versatile wines for food pairing and cheese matching. You can match the right Champagne with almost anything thanks to its high level of acidity and varying levels of richness.
5) There are many differences between Champagnes
Champagne can be only made in the namesake French region, and the method of making Champagne, ‘Methode Champenoise’, has strict regulations. However, as the region covers 76,000 acres of land and is home to close to 20,000 growers, there are many differences between styles, flavour and the way the Champagne is made.
6) Not all champagne is dry
Champagne is often considered a dry wine, but originally, it was made to be an incredibly sweet, almost syrupy wine – and today, the taste of champagne ranges from dry to sweet. Champagnes named Bruts (Brut Nature, Extra Brut and Brut) are dry and all have very little sugar added (less than 15 grams), whereas a Demi-Sec has up to 50 grams of sugar, and a Doux is on the sugary side with over 50 grams of sugar.
7) It’s all about the vintage
One of the biggest differences when it comes to Champagnes is Vintage versus Non Vintage (NV). Vintage means the year the grapes were harvested. Vintage Champagne contains grapes from a specific year, and only quality years make it to vintage, so this makes up for a very small percentage of champagne (and the price difference is noticeable). Non-vintage Champagne contain grapes from different years’ harvest, and is the most common type of Champagne. NV champagne is kept on lees (that is, fermented in the same bottle it is sold in) for at least 15 months, whereas Vintage Champagne has to be kept in lees for at least three years.
8) Aussie sparkling winemakers use the Champagne grapes
Australian winemakers have planted the grapes that are used when making Champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – for sparkling wine production. While techniques of production may vary or stray outside of the Methode Champenoise of Champagne, Australia is creating exceptional sparkling wines in both blended and single variety formats.
9) Aussie sparkling is giving French fizz some stiff competition
While many other countries produce sparkling wines using their own selected grapes, Australian sparkling wine is predominately made using one, two or all three of the Champagne grape. This has led to Australian sparkling becoming more renowned around the world for being a great and affordable alternative to champagne. According to stats from Wine Australia, the value of exports of Australian carbonated wine more than doubled to $30 million in the last year