Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and Okanagan sommelier. Image contributed

Wineology: Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles cont.

Check out Okanagan sommelier Shanyn Ward’s new bi-weekly column

Last article I said my goal was to try to uncomplicate the buying of Sparkling wine. I spoke a little about sweeter styles of bubbles.

This week it’s time to talk about drier styles. This category includes Champagne – like the real Champagne.

To clarify, this particular type of sparkling wine is legally only allowed to be called that when the wine comes from the Champagne region in France. While the term Champagne is synonymous with sparkling wine, it is important to note that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.

France makes an abundance of sparkling wine. Champagne is the most famous and well known. The French wine laws set strict guidelines for production of this type of sparkling wine; from when harvesting may be done and how many tonnes may be picked to how the wines are made – how much sugar can remain and how long the wines must be aged before release. And the list goes on and on.

While Champagne absolutely makes dessert styles sparkling (labelled Demi Sec or Doux), 95 per cent of what we see in store is dry. Champagne always commands a higher price, as it more expensive to produce and because of its reputation. Commonly seen on shelves are brands such as Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Moet or Bollinger. These wines are usually blends of three different grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier).

If, however, Blanc de Blanc ia stated on a label it indicates that only Chardonnay has been used. These are usually a little more delicate and approachable. Blanc de Noir indicates a wine made from black grapes (Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) and typically it will be more full bodied, with a more aggressive flavour profile.

All other sparkling wine produced in regions outside of Champagne. Some of those still in France and produced in the same method are labelled Cremant (i.e Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Loire).

For those of you looking for a dry sparkling without the hefty price tag of Champagne, I personally love Cava. Cava is sparkling wine produced in Spain. Almost all Cava is produced in the region just south of Barcelona.

It is made in the same method as Champagne, but with three different grapes.

Xarel-lo for body and structure, Macabeo for the perfumed notes and Paralleda for freshness and acidity. Spain’s wine production is always within the top three in the world, which makes wines from here a much more affordable price. Segura Viudas and Freixenet are the two most common Cava’s in the province.

There are also very reputable sparkling producers in the Okanagan who make sparkling in the same method as the ones listed above. Blue Mountain makes a great line up of sparkling and Summerhill Pyramid Winery produces consistently great sparkling year after year.

What I am loving this week:

Summerhill 2012 Cipes Blanc de Blanc: It is made in the traditional Champagne method from 100 per cent Chardonnay grapes. On a dryness scale, this is almost bone dry. An elegant expression of Chardonnay, with fresh, but not too tart notes of citrus and white peach. The bubbles are persistent, but not aggressive. I really feel no need to pair with food, but if you feel so inclined, nothing too heavy or flavorful to distract from the pleasant nature of this wine.


To check out past Wineology columns, click here.

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