Champagne Taste, Sparkling Wine Budget!

Wine writer Phil Parker gives his top tips on what to look for in a quality sparkling wine.

We all love to celebrate with bottle of something special. Pop the cork, fill the glasses and start the night in style. But if your budget doesn’t run to around $80 for a genuine French Champagne, are there other options at a lower price?

The answer is yes. 

Pop The Prosecco

Currently a hot item as a bargain sparkler by the glass at a café or restaurant, prosecco hails from Northeast Italy and is traditionally made from the indigenous glera grape variety.

The Italians use a method of pressurised tank fermentation of base wine to capture the bubbles, which cuts down on time and expense, and delivers a less complex, fruity sparkling wine.

And if the label says DOC or DOCG, you are assured of a quality wine from a reputable Italian producer. Expect to pay from $23 to $40 a bottle. 

Sip Spanish Cava

Most Cava is produced in the Catalan Penedés region of Spain and made using the traditional bottle fermented Champagne method.

The wines are dry, with low acidity and yeasty flavours. In Penedés, grapes mainly used are local traditionally grown varieties such as maccabeo and parellada. These wines don’t benefit from ageing. You'll be looking at between $20 to $40. 

Try Traditional Method

You can find some superb fermented wines that give the French a serious run for their money. Traditional method wines are normally made from the traditional grape varieties of pinot noir, chardonnay and may include pinot meuniere.

For around $40 there are some excellent New Zealand sparklers from small to medium-sized family wineries, where quality and attention to detail produce an outstanding bubbly. Look for the words ‘Méthode Traditionnelle’ or ‘bottle fermented’ on the label.


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