In today’s economic climate, more and more people are looking for ways to cut back on their spending, and that includes wine purchases. We are buying less wine and at the same time trying to find more value in what we’re spending on. Should cutting back on cost mean having to cut back on quality? Not necessarily, and certainly not when it comes to sparkling wine.
It’s no secret that Champagne runs the highest price point for the world’s sparkling wine category, but it’s not common knowledge that sparkling wine regions around the world are making high-quality wines at less than half the price of Champagne. These regions have different names for their own sparkling wine appellations that not only identify the region the sparkling wine comes from but will indicate a regional style.
If you want to celebrate your next special holiday or occasion in style by popping a bottle of bubbly – but aren’t looking to pay the Champagne price tag – below are some quality options, including a rundown on appellations and styles, that will help you navigate your next bubbly purchase and will be sure to make your night just as sparkling!
Prosecco DOC or DOCG comes mainly from the Veneto region in Italy. It is made using the Charmat (or tank) method of production, meaning this wine doesn’t receive any oak influence from barrel aging. This allows the wine to showcase the purity of the grapes being used. The wines are fresh, fruity, and approachable. To ensure you’re getting a higher quality product, look for the designation Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superioré on the label. Purchasing Prosecco Superioré gives you the best quality-to-price-ratio in this category.
My pick: Val D’Oca 2020 Prosecco DOCG
Cultivated with high-quality Glera grapes in the Valdobbiadene area and certified sustainable by the region’s own SQNPI. Elegant, with a delicate mousse. Vibrant peach, tangerine, and floral notes with a clean, lingering finish. Refreshing and sensational! ($20.05)
Méthode Cap Classique
Cap Classique is a term used for the traditional method sparkling wines of South Africa. Traditional method refers to the classic Champagne method of winemaking that includes the wine undergoing a second fermentation in bottle, which ultimately develops a fuller-bodied, complex sparkling wine. In a Cap Classique you are likely to find stone fruit, citrus, and bready notes.
My pick: Graham Beck Brut Sparkling
A Chardonnay and Pinot Noir cuvée that displays attractive aromas of white roses, orange, and brioche. Fine perlage, lifting acidity, and expansive fruity flavours of golden apple, nectarine, and juicy mandarin reverberate on the palate. Medium-bodied with a pleasant leesy texture, and a long, citrus finish. ($22.95)
Cava is a traditional sparkling wine from Spain. It is often less sweet than Prosecco, but still fresh, with floral and citrus notes. Cava can be enjoyed young, but more and more producers are crafting Cava to be built for long-term aging as a Champagne would be.
My pick: Hola! 2019 Organic Brut Cava
This organic wine is comprised of 40% Xarel-lo, 30% Macebeo, and 30% Parellada. It presents delicate aromatics of almond, apricot, and buttered toast. Exuberant bubbles deliver intense fruit flavours of ripe peach, dried apricot, and hints of almond that draw out on a long finish. ($17.95)
If the word Crémant is on the bottle, it will be from one of nine regions in France that make a sparkling wine in the same method as their neighbouring region Champagne. Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Loire, and Crémant de Bordeaux are four popular wines we are likely to see on most store shelves across the country. These French wines can be found for a fraction of the price as a bottle of Champagne!
My pick: Wolfberger Brut Crémant d’Alsace
This crémant is made primarily with Pinot Blanc accompanied by Pinot Gris and Riesling. Notes of wildflowers, graphite, and white pepper on the nose. Off-dry, with fine bubbles. Orange, stonefruit, and autolytic flavours are elegantly balanced with the structural elements of this wine. Juicy, mouthwatering acidity, with a touch of bitterness on the finish. ($22.95)
My pick: Chateau de Montgueret Crémant de Loire Brut
Crémant de Loire is commonly made with the chenin blanc grape, either as a single-varietal wine or as a blending partner. This bottle is a blend of chenin, cabernet, and chardonnay. Elegant gala apple, lemon and lime zest, floral and wet stone aromas. Mineral driven, with notes of apple, bosc pear and almond, and ripe acidity adding layers of complexity on the palate. Long, zesty finish. ($20.95)
Last but not least, Sparkling Wine. A VQA approved term here in Ontario but used as a generic term in several other places in North America and elsewhere that don’t have a signature term for sparkling wine. Both Traditional method and Charmat method wines can be made under this term. Look for Traditional Method on the bottle if you prefer a more complex, fuller-bodied bubbly. If you prefer a more approachable, fruity sparkling, look for Charmat Method.
My pick: Tawse 2017 Spark Brut Sparkling
This wine is made using the Traditional Method with Chardonnay as a base, and Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in addition. Attractive floral aromas of pink flowers, with pear and melon. A bright palate that bursts with freshness and emphatic acidity as exuberant froth rushes the mouth. Fresh, with guava, pear, starfruit, and river rock and a chalky texture. Persistent finish. There’s lots of life left in this sparkling that would reward a few more years of cellaring. ($25.95)
My pick: Lighthall Vineyards 2022 Fence VQA Rosé Sparkling
A County pinot noir sparkling wine crafted using the Charmat Method. Aromas of bubblegum, strawberries and sweet tarts lead to a palate that includes baked strawberries and raspberries. The bright red fruit notes and balanced acidity flood all edges of the palate and leave a fine, chalky mouth-coating texture and a lengthy finish. ($29)
My pick: Bernard-Massard Cuvée de L’Écusson Brut Sparkling
This wine comes as a blend of chardonnay, pinot blanc, and riesling made using the Traditional Method in Luxembourg, France. Boastful aromatics of cantaloupe, buttered toast, and pineapple. Frothy, playful bubbles dance around peach, dried apricot, and honeysuckle notes. A touch of sweetness makes this bubbly easily approachable and would pair perfectly with strawberries and angel food cake. ($20.95)