Everything Wine And More

Marcia Hamm
December 16, 2019 | Marcia Hamm

Tis The Season

Not all bubbles are created equal. Many come into any retail store and ask for Champagne, not really knowing what it means. Here’s the lowdown:

Champagne- Can only be called such if it’s made in the Champagne region by the Methode Champenois, or second fermentation in the bottle. Essentially that means the bottle you buy off the shelf is the very same bottle the wine did its second fermentation in. If you see Blanc de Blanc, it’s made with 100% chardonnay grapes. Blanc de Noir means there’s red grapes in it – pinot noir and Meunier. These are the classic Champagne grapes and each provides something tasty to the bottle. Champagne is expensive though, due to its extensive ageing (minimum 36 months) on the lees (the dead yeast cells that give texture and taste to wine)

Crémant – We’re still in France, but outside Champagne, it’s called Crémant. These beautiful sparkling wines are made in the Loire Valley, Alsace, Burgundy, Limoux and even Bordeaux (although rare) with grapes such as chenin blanc, pinot blanc, riesling and the indigenous grape mauzac (Limoux). These are typically great sparklers at great price points, but the toasty notes that are present in Champagne, may not necessarily be present in Crémant, because these are typically aged for less time before going to market. With that said, Crémant is a great alternative to Champagne – French without the price tag!

Cava – Welcome to Spain! Another great alternative to Champagne is Cava, coming from (mostly) the Penedes region of Spain, close to Barcelona. Traditionally, grapes used are macabeo, parellades and xa-rello, but more and more we see these wines being made with more international grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir. If you’re looking for something to drink on Christmas morning (a Mimosa maybe?), think Cava! The price points are reasonable, and the flavours are lean, bright and fresh!

Prosecco – The sparkling wine created by the grape glera, coming from the Veneto region or Northeast Italy, it’s taken the world by storm and is at the top of its game. Unlike their counterparts mentioned above, Prosecco is made via the tank method, which means the bubble tend to be bigger and rounder vs. the creamy, delicate mousse of the Champagne, Crémant and Cava. However, its versatility makes it a popular choice amongst consumers. Choose brut style for classic prosecco from the Valdobbiadene hills for a standalone solid sparkling. Choose extra dry from Treviso if you want to create your Aperol Spritz, Bellini or Mimosa. Check out the Prosecco Pyramid by the Prosecco wall, or talk to one of our knowledgeable staff to get in the know about Prosecco!

Methode Ancestrale- Based on the name Ancestrale, one can probably guess that this is an old method of making sparkling, but it is risky and difficult to control. While Champagnes are made with a blending of base wines to produce a house style, then the addition of yeast and sugar in the bottle to kick start the second fermentation, in the Ancestrale method, the primary fermentation process is stopped before completion. The secondary fermentation (still occurs in the bottle) will stop when the yeast has completely finished converting the sugar to alcohol. There’s no disgorgement and there’s no dosage (the extra sugar added AFTER the wine has sat on its lees to determine how sweet your finished product will be: brut, sec, and demi-sec). That’s all clear right? Usually not…there’s typically sediment in any bottle of Methode Ancestrale! J

Petillant Naturel - Pet-Nat for short, has taken the world by storm, and you’ll likely find it in any trendy wine or cocktail bar. It’s like the method Ancestrale mentioned above, but even more natural. It’s often not as sparkly as other sparkling wines, and tends have that certain “funk” to it. It can made with any grape and might even be considered “orange” – another on trend for the millennials!

Sparkling Wine – The truth of the matter is, all countries make sparkling wine, and from every grape imaginable! If you buy it from Canada or the USA, Chile, Argentina, Australia or New Zealand, it’s simply called Sparkling Wine. In fact, some of the Champagne Houses of France have set up shop in the USA, with their house names attached to the area of the USA where it’s made. An affordable option to the champagne name without the Champagne price! The good news is we have ALL of the above mentioned wines in our store! The holiday season is a great time to open a bottle of bubbly, by yourself while watching a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie, or with family and friends around the table eating great food, playing fun games, or simply to put a smile on your face! Cheers!

Marcia Hamm


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