Champagne is usually an expensive alcoholic beverage!

We have often associated it with celebrations and stylish events that require quite of a status to hold…

However did you know that Champagne belongs to the Sparkling Wines Category?

How about if you knew some stuff about them in general and of course…Champagne?

Would you care to learn some more famous Sparkling Wines?

Yes..?

Well, let’s go!

What are Sparkling Wines?

Well, Sparkling Wines are wines that basically attribute their name to the bubbles we see in them. They are fizzy and they can be white, rosé or even red. 2 of the most famous wines that belong to this type of wine are Champagne and Moscato d’Asti.

But before we get down to them, let’s check a bit more about how they are made.

Did you know that there are 4 different methods to make a Sparkling Wine?

Well, here they are…

  1. Champagne Method – Méthode Champenoise – Traditional method – Classic Method -Bottle Fermentation
  2. Charmat Method – Metodo Italiano – Metodo Martinotti – Tank Fermentation
  3. Transfer method
  4. Gas Injection

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Some further info, please…?

  1. Champagne Method is also called Methode Champenoise, Traditional Method, Classic Method or Bottle Fermentation. This method is used in Champagne region in France and, therefore, it is named after it. According to this method, after the first fermentation, the blending and the bottling, a secondary fermentation takes place. This method is a complex one as apart from the special process that happens in the bottles, the aging takes from 15 months to 3 years. During this period, the bottles of wine have to be rotated upside down from time to time, a technique called Riddling. After the aging period has passed, special lees, that were put in the bottles in the first place, are removed, and the last ingredients are added along with the cork. These last actions are called Disgorging and Dosage.
  2. Charmat Method is also called Metodo Italiano, Metodo Martinotti or Tank Fermentation. According to this method, the wine goes through a secondary alcoholic fermentation in closed pressurized stainless steel tanks and it is also bottled under pressure in a continuous process. This method is used for Prosecco and Lambrusco among others.
  3. Transfer Method is a method, where the wines after the first fermentation are transferred to bottles for the secondary fermentation to take place. After the required amount of time in the bottles, the wine is transferred to a larger tank.
  4. Gas Injection is a method according to which Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) is injected, a not so usual method used for sparkling wines but definitely a process used in soft drinks.

That was nice but… how about the cheesy stuff?

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Well here you will find the list of 8 of the most famous Sparkling Wines

  1. Champagne (Champagne region of France)
  2. Blanquette de Limoux (Southern France)
  3. Crémant de Limoux
  4. Cava (Spanish)
  5. Espumante (Portuguese)
  6. Lambrusco (Italian)
  7. Prosecco DOC (Italian)
  8. Moscato D’Asti (Italian)

So we’ve got the list but…

Let’s check them more closely now, shall we?

  • Champagne:

Champagne is a sparkling wine named after the region of Champagne in France, where it is also produced. It is created with the Traditional Method of Méthode Champenoise.  One of the specific characteristics of Champagne requires that it goes through a second fermentation in the bottle, a technique discovered quite accidentally.

Generally there are a lot of people who use the name Champagne for different kinds of sparkling wines; however it is illegal to use that name unless the grapes come from the region Champagne and the wine is created according to the certain rules, that come with its creation (appellation).

Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are among the main grape varieties used for the production of Champagne. The quality of the bubbles as well as its association with royal festivities during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, is what makes Champagne stand out from the rest of the sparkling wines.

Famous Champagne wines: Pierre Morlet Avenay Val D’Or Brut, Comte de Noiron Coeur de Cuvee Brut, Joseph Perrier Brut Rose, Chanoine Tsarine Rose Brut, Gonet-Medeville Premier Cru Brut,  Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold, Gremillet Brut, Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon Oenotheque Brut Millesime, Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut, Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut, Palmer & Co Brut, etc.

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  • Blanquette de Limoux:

Blanquette de Limoux is sparkling wine coming from the eastern foothills of the Pyrénées in southern France, south of the city of Carcassonne. The grape variety of Mauzac holds a minimum of 90% of Blanquette de Limoux and Chardonnay along with Chenin Blanc hold the rest of it. The 90% of Mauzac variety in the wine is mandatory, according to the AOC (Appellation d’origine controlée) regulations, in order to maintain the traditional recipe of Blanquette de Limoux.

Famous Blanquette de Limoux wines: Paul Mas Prima Perla Blanquette de Limoux, Gilles Louvet Blanquette de Limoux d’O, Sieur d’ Arques Blanquette de Limoux Diaphane Brut, Domaine Rosier Blanquette de Limoux, Antech Blanquette de Limoux Reserve Brut, Vergnes Domaine de Martinolles Blanquette de Limoux Le Berceau Brut, Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut, etc.

  • Crémant de Limoux:

Crémant de Limoux is sparkling wine that comes from the same region of southern France, like Blanquette de Limoux.  It is made from the same grape varieties of Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, but also Pinot Noir as well. Contrary to Blanquette de Limoux though, there is an emphasis on Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc rather than Mauzac, since the term Crémant was introduced as an appellation, in order for winemakers to be able to use a larger percentage of the latter varieties in their wines. Today, Crémant de Limoux contains 40-70% Chardonnay, 20-40% Chenin Blanc, 10-20% Mauzac and up to 10% Pinot Noir.

Famous Crémant de Limoux wines: Domaine Rosier Cremant de Limoux Cuvee Ma Maison, Domaine de Martinolles Cremant de Limoux Prima Perla Rose, Hecht & Bannier Cremant de Limoux, Chateau Rives-Blanques Cremant de Limoux Blanc de Blancs, Guinot Cremant de Limoux Imperial Brut Tendre, Antech Cremant de Limoux Cuvee Eugenie Brut, Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Cuvee Thomas Jefferson Brut, Paul Mas ‘Cote Mas’ Cremant de Limoux Brut, Sieur d’Arques Aimery Cremant de Limoux Methode Traditionelle Brut, etc.

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  • Cava:

Cava is the Spanish Sparkling wine and the name came from the word Cava that means “cave” or “cellar”. It has been officially called cava since 1970 in order to be easily distinct from the French “Champagne”. It is made with the Traditional Method and it is mostly produced in Catalonia. It can be white, red or rosé and the main grape varieties used for Cavas are Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo. Cavas can be differentiated according to the amount of residual sugar included to the following categories:

  • Brut Nature: 0-3 grams/ liter of residual sugar
  • Extra Brut: 0-6 grams/ liter of residual sugar
  • Brut: 0-12 grams/ liter of residual sugar
  • Extra Seco (or Extra Dry): 12-17 grams/ liter of residual sugar
  • Seco (or Dry): 17-32 grams/ liter of residual sugar
  • Semi-Seco (or Semi-Dry): 32-50 grams/liter of residual sugar
  • Dulce (or Sweet): More than 50 grams/ liter if residual sugar

Famous Cava wines: Roger de Flor Cava Semi Seco, Jaume Giro I Giro Reserva Brut Nature, Freixenet Carta Rosado Cava, Castillo Perelada Brut Nature Cava, Bodegas Naveran Brut Cava, Vega Barcelona Cava, etc.

  • Espumante:

Espumante is the Portuguese Sparkling wine and unlike Cava, which is produced only in northern climate, it can be grown almost everywhere in Portugal all the way to the southern region of Alentejo. Apparently, Espumante quality is produced only in DOC Bairrada, located in the south of Vinho Verde.  Quite notable is the fact that in order for a wine to be certified as a quality Espumante from DOC Bairrada, it must be made in the traditional champagne method (indicating the year of harvest) and stamped with the VEQPRD (Vinho Espumante de Qualidade Produzido em Região Determinada) certification.

VFQPRD is a regional sparkling wine made in the traditional champagne, charmat or transfer method in one of the following determined regions: Douro, Ribatejo, Minho, Alentejo or Estremadura

VQPRD is a sparkling wine that can be made by injecting the wine with gas in the traditional champagne, charmat, transfer method anywhere in Portugal.

Espumosos are the cheapest and lowest level of sparkling wine, made by injecting the wine with CO2.

Famous Espumante wines: Murganheira, Raposeira, Bical, Confraria Arinto Sparkling Dry White, etc.

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  • Prosecco Doc:

Prosecco Doc is an Italian white Sparkling wine that comes from Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions. According to the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) law, only the wines that originate from the above areas bear the name “Prosecco”. Prosecco DOC, depending on the perlage, can either be Spumante (Sparkling in Italian), Frizzante (Semi-Sparkling) and Tranquillo (still).

Prosecco can be produced either with Traditional Method or with the Charmat Method. It comes as a blend of the Prosecco (Glera) grapes, which is the major variety while varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanco, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir can be added.

Prosecco was the original main ingredient of the cocktails Bellini and Spritz and it can replace champagne in some cocktails, such as Mimosa.

Famous Prosecco wines: Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Bele Casel Extra Dry Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Althea Spago Prosecco di Treviso, Anna Spinato Prosecco Frizzante, Le Bertole Collinaris, Macchiato Prosecco di Treviso Brut, etc.

  • Lambrusco:

Lambrusco is the name of the grape but also the name of the wine, made from that grape variety. Usually, it is slightly sparkling red wine, meant to be drunk young.

Lambrusco wine has quite some levels of dryness or sweetness. It can be Seco (Bone Dry/Dry), Amabile (Off-Dry/Sweet) and Dolce (Very Sweet). The wine is usually made with the Charmat method, and rarely with the Champagne method as well.

Famous Lambrusco wines: Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC, Otello Nero di Lambrusco, Lambrusco Mantovano, Lambrusco Reggiano, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco di Sorbara Vigna del Cristo , Lambrusco Reggiano DOC “Pra di Bosso” , Lambrusco di Sorbara del Fondatore.

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  • Moscato D’Asti:

Moscato D’Asti is a sparkling white wine and it is made from the Moscato Bianco grapes, Muscat à Petits Grains.  It is mainly produced in the province of Asti in the northwest of Italy, and in some areas of Alessandria and Cuneo. Moscato is called this way, due to the earthy musk aroma that distinguishes it.

Its first presence is recorded in the 14th century in Piedmont, Italy and it was called apiana from the ancient Romans.

Famous Moscato D’Asti wines: Saracco Moscato D’Asti, Nivole Moscato D’Asti, Castello del Poggio Moscato, Moncucco Moscato D’Asti, Valdiserre Moscato D’Asti, Stella Rosa Moscato D’Asti, Belbo Di Cello D’Asti Moscato, Moscato D’Asti – Azienda Agricola Bera, Moscato D’Asti – Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Moscato D’Asti Bricco Quaglia – La Spinetta, etc.

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So there it is…

You now know what Sparkling Wines are and the methods in which they are created.

You have learned about the famous Méthode Champenoise that allows us to have the modern Champagne and, of course, you are now aware of 7 more of the most famous sparkling wines: Blanquette de Limoux, Crémant de Limoux, Cava, Espumante, Lambrusco, Prosecco DOC, Moscato d’Asti.

I hope this post was interesting and conclusive enough for you to stay tuned…

In case I have missed any of the most famous Sparkling Wines please let me know…In case you thought this post was good enough, I would be delighted to see you share it…