There is something fancy about the word “Champagne” that can grab a person’s attention. With its French origins, champagne is a symbol of success, luxury and wealth for celebrative occasions. But despite its grand connotation, the truth about Champagne is, it’s not as superior as it’s perceived to be. Champagne is just a sparkling wine a type of sparkling wine that you will see on wine lists around the world. But what sets champagne from other sparkling wines is its tight regulations surrounding its ability to labelled as “champagne”.
Most importantly, for a sparkling wine to be eligible for the “champagne” classification is that the grapes used to make the wine must be grown in the Champagne region in France. There are also other regulations in the production that champagnes need to adhere to, which is monitored by the Champagne wine making community. Under the auspices of the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC), the community has developed a comprehensive set of rules to which they are now applied through champagne appellation law.
To protect their economic interests, the CIVC’s rules cover a majority of the wine making process including the type of grape varieties used, the secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation, specific vineyard practices, sourcing of grapes exclusively from specific parcels, and pressing regimes unique to the region.
But despite all the efforts to make champagne and exclusive product, sparkling wines produced in the style of champagne is available around the world. There are plenty of sparkling wines that use the same grape types that are used in champagnes – black Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier and even white Chardonnay. But for most legal structures in the world, it is illegal to label any product “champagne” unless it adheres to the CIVC’s rules and regulations.
If you are looking for a good affordable sparkling wine like champagne, look no further than to the local Australian varieties, produced in reputable wine regions as well. Montalto’s 2011 Cuveé One is a great opener to such sparkling wines.