The Champagne region of France not only produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world, but some of the finest wines in the world too. Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Different vintages are used to create the blend or better known as the “Cuvee”.
Champagne is expensive due to the traditional method of how it is made, Method Champenoise and techniques known as second fermentation. this process takes place in the bottle and requires hands on attention.
Some select years produce an out standing grape harvest. The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years. Here are an example of a few companies who produce these Vintage Champagnes; Veuve Clicquot, Perrier-Jouet, Moet & Chandon, and Taittinger.
Remember a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.
The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store are non-vintage. These are a blend of wines aged for two years.
Quality Champagne Cellars:
Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchene, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heid sieck Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Lauret Perrier, Mercier, Moet & Chandon, Mumm Perrier-Jouet, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot
Other sparkling Wine Regions:
Loire Valley of France produces Cremante, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region. The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.
California Sparkling Wines:
Sparkling wines from California use a few grape varietals such as Berger and Chenin Blanc to blend with the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Producers to look for in California; Hacienda, Domain Lauier, Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Codorniu-Napa, Iron Horse, Jordan, Mumm-Cuvee Napa, and Schramsberg.
Remember the name “Champagne” can only be used in Europe on bottles that actually are produced in the Champagne region of France.