The Bubbles Review

for people who love champagne and all things sparkling!

Tag: Sparkling

Aussies are Top 10 for drinkers of Champagne!

Us Aussies, we always like to hear how we compare with the rest of the world.  To discover we are Top 10 in something, is always a great thrill.

So as a lover of champagne, imagine my excitement to see that Australia makes the Top 10 in champagne consumption in the world. Yay us!

Australia confidently holds its place as the fifth largest champagne market per head of population, and the only country outside Europe in the top seven overall, exceeded only by France, Belgium, Switzerland and the UK.

I recently interviewed Tyson Stelzer, who is a multi award winning wine writer and presenter, and author of the award winning The Champagne Guide.  I asked him what changes he had seen with champagne in Australia to which he responded that “Australia is now the fastest growing champagne market on earth”.

A search on statistics and I confirm that, yes, that’s true. No country outside Europe drinks more champagne per person than Australia. The average Australian now drinks twice as much champagne as the average German, three times as much as the Italians, almost four times as much as the Japanese and close to five times as much as Americans. It’s remarkable that such a tremendous volume of champagne would ship all the way to our land downunder!

The growth of champagne in Australia in the past decade has been phenomenal, we are drinking more than three times as much as we were seven or eight years ago, says Tyson.  Over this same period, champagne sales globally have grown less than 17%. This means little Australia alone takes the credit for more than one-seventh of champagne’s global growth over the past fifteen years!

Does this mean that our taste in bubbles is becoming better?  I guess the short answer is yes, but we can improve our palate even more.  I asked Tyson for some insight on Australia’s champagne drinking habits and some tips on how to discover more.  Before I give you the link to the video, a couple of terms that are mentioned that you might not be aware of:

Grower champagnes – produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards from which the grapes come.  Many of these are family owned vineyards.  In Australia we would most commonly refer to the equivalent as a boutique winery.  Grower Champagnes tend to be more terroir focused, as they are often sourced from single or closely located vineyards around a village, in comparison to some of the large Champagne Houses, who source grapes from many different vineyards to blend to create their signature house style.

Co-operative champagnes –  is as the name suggests a group co-operating together.  This could be a grower’s co-op that pools their resources and produces wine under a single brand, or a union of growers who share their resources and collectively market their own brands.

On my recent trip to Champagne, I visited Champagne Collet home to the oldest Cooperative in Champagne ‘The COGEVI’. They have created this short-film which recounts the history through the ages right from its creation during the Revolution Champenoise in 1911.  It depicts the struggle and up-rising of the Champagne winegrowers for the protection of their terroir and to gain recognition of a united Champagne appellation.  It really helped me to understand the reasons behind the fierce protection of the Champagne name and gave insight into some of the struggles for growers and the advantages of the co-operatives.  Highly recommend it, you can view this short film (6mins) here The roots of COGEVI (note it is set to be viewed for 18 years and older due to the discussion of alcohol, which is why it will tell you it is restricted).

To see my chat with Tyson Stelzer as we discuss the champagne market in Australia, including tips on how to discover more – click here Natalie from The Bubbles Review chats with Tyson Stelzer about champagne in Australia.

Cheers!

Natalie


 

Tyson Stelzer is a multi-award winning wine writer, television presenter and international speaker. He was named The International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year, The Australian Wine Communicator of the Year and The International Champagne Writer of the Year. He is the author and publisher of sixteen wine books, a regular contributor to fifteen magazines, a frequent judge and chair at Australian wine shows and has presented at wine events in nine countries. www.TysonStelzer.com is your link to his wine recommendations, and book sales.

Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber offers and prize draws. The giveaways are a bubbly giveaway.  In November it is a chance to win a signed copy of Tyson’s The Champagne Guide.  Join our list!

Is champagne better than sex?

I do believe that champagne is one of the joys of life. With Valentine’s Day upon us, a day widely recognised as a day for love and devotion, I thought I would share some thoughts on my devotion to champagne.

So yes, my headline is a little controversial, and you don’t really think I am going to answer that, do you? I will, though, explain why I think that the enjoyment of good champagne is very similar to the enjoyment of good sex. You know, the kind that stays with you, you find yourself drifting off into a day dream in the days afterwards, smiling for no apparent reason, remembering and reliving some of the most sensual moments.

Champagne is a drink that captures all of the senses and creates those moments that pleasantly drift back to you. Take a moment to savour the memories to bring joy to your everyday.

Visual – I like the look of champagne. What is not to like? A beautifully shaped bottle that is almost like a piece of art, which is then uncorked in a sense of ceremony and poured into an elegant glass.

After which an endless flow of very delicate bubbles continue with effervescence waiting for your drinking pleasure. So yes, I like what I see and I would like to take it further.

Smell – I always take time to take in the aroma, the scent or ‘nose’ of the wine. When you smell a wine, you prepare your mind for what you are about to taste. Put your nose at the top of the glass, breathe in slowly and deeply. Guessing at flavours before I taste, this could arguably be considered the foreplay, the playful moments that add to the enjoyment, before we go onto taste.

Touch – To discuss touch, let’s talk about ‘mouth feel’ (yes it is a proper champagne term), the description of how the wine feels in your mouth, and with champagne this is a kaleidoscope of experiences. Take a moment to let that feeling of discovery happen. You have the bead of the bubbles, they help the wine to dance on your tongue, the creaminess and the effervescence you’ll feel as you press down a little, a little explosion in your mouth. The minerality that adds to the where the wine sits in your mouth and continues to bring a discovery of flavours as you taste from the front to the back of the palate. It really is joyful.

Taste – Let’s not forget taste. As you are taking a moment to enjoy the sensuous mouth feel, let your mind explore the taste. What flavours can you detect? Are they the same as you thought they were going to be when you discovered the scent, or are there a few surprises in there? Enjoy the taste as it hits different parts of your palate. Now swallow. Gorgeous.

Even on busy tasting days I always swallow. The spittoon is rarely used, which probably means that I am in love every time that I drink champagne.

Feel – How do I feel when I drink champagne? Joyful is the best description I can think of. As a warm glow takes over the body, I savour the moments of delight, the feeling of luxury, richness, and the feeling of appreciation; I feel truly blessed and enriched from the experience. The pleasure that it brings, the delicate moments of joy, and for days afterwards I find myself smiling for no apparent reason remembering all of the delightful details, the smell, the taste, the mouth feel.

Sigh! Well, I hope that this was as good for you as it was for me! Wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day. Whether you are enjoying a glass of bubbly alone or with a loved one, take time to savour all of the precious moments and remember – life is too short not to drink good champagne!

Cheers!

Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!

 

Favourite Aussie Sparklings

Tasting my way through my wish list of Champagne and Sparklings is really a very pleasant lifelong goal. I recently learned that there are over 8000 Champagne Houses in Champagne, so that is a lot of tasting to do!  I also love our Aussie sparklings, I prefer the champagne style so tend towards a classic ‘methode traditionnelle’. Whilst there are some on my wishlist yet to try, and some that I splash out some extra cash for special occasions, there are also a few favourites that I tend to choose regularly for an everyday celebration.

Here are my ‘go to’ Australian Sparklings:

Yarra Burn – NV Yarra Burn Victoria Premium Cuvée Brut, the retail price is $17 but you can find this on special at around the $12 mark, when I see it at this price I buy a few bottles to keep on hand. Perfect easy drinking to take to BBQs or for an impromptu bubbles at home, or to have as a follow on bottle after something special.

Chandon Brut NV – a good consistent classic style, made in the Yarra Valley by the Australian winery of the French Champagne House – Moët et Chandon. The retail is usually around $25 but you can often find this on special at around $20, when I do, I buy a couple of bottles to keep on hand. Perfect for gifts and sharing with friends.

Croser NV – this South Australian sparkling is a fresh and crisp aperitif style, easy drinking and lovely for sharing with friends. The Non-Vintage is at a great price point, I often find this on special for around $20, although the retail is more around $25-$29. It also is often available with a gift box so great for gifting, or for making an impressive arrival. Yes, when you see it on special, buy a couple to keep on hand.

Jansz NV – As a general rule with Australian sparklings, I think anything from Tasmania is going to be good! The Non-Vintage Jansz is another consistent classy bubbly that is on my go to list. Once again I look for it when on special. The retail is around $25-$29 if you are lucky you can find it in the low $20 mark. Always impressive.

These are my regulars in the $15-$25 price range, but there so many more lovely Australian Sparklings to explore.  I also love trying smaller labels when visiting wineries and tasting at Cellar Door, joining wine clubs can also be a good way to discover more.

I read once that there was a wine glut in Australia, I’m not sure if that is still true. In any case, I like to do my bit to help out and support the Aussie wine industry!

What are some of your Aussie Favourites?  Feel free to leave some comments below.

You may also like our articles on Tips for drinking Champagne on a budget and Why that is not a glass of Champagne that you are drinking!

Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!

Tagliatelle Marinara with cream sauce & chives

Bubbles are great to toast a special occasion and also pre-dinner drinks, but what about continuing with the main course? Because we love champagne and all things sparkling we asked our friends David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn from Paired Media to share one of their pairing recipes with us.

[Note: If you are gluten free/low carb, some substitutes to try would be home-made zucchini noodles, or try the Slendier Slim Pasta Fettuccine which are both vegetable based or look for a nice gluten free pasta option.]


This is a beautiful luxurious delicate pasta dish that won’t leave you feeling over full. It’s also surprisingly easy to make and presents very impressively. It’s important to keep the sauce of this recipe light and creamy in texture, so that it doesn’t overwhelm the wine. The tagliatelle is effective at holding the sauce and wrapping it around the seafood as you eat and spaghetti is an excellent alternative. Many fish shops sell a pre-prepared marinara mix. For freshness of flavour the fish should be bought the same day as you intend to cook.

Pairing

Suggested match NV New World sparkling, ideally a fresh young wine.

Pairing style / cleansing

A fresh, citric New World sparkling wine (ie from Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and the US) will meld beautifully with the pasta flavours. The chives and spring onion create the link between the pasta and the wine, adding a fresh touch to the creaminess of the dish.

Prep 15 min

Cook 10 min

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 packet fresh tagliatelle pasta

2 heaped tablespoons of butter

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 spring onions (scallions), chopped

1/2 cup (125ml/4fl oz) dry white wine

200ml (7fl oz) cream

125g (4.5oz) double cream brie, chopped

1½ heaped tablespoons seeded mustard

400g (14oz) seafood marinara mix

bunch fresh chives, chopped

Method

Boil the tagliatelle as per packet’s instructions and set to one side.

Over a high heat melt the butter and add the garlic. Once it starts to sizzle add the spring onions. Reduce heat slightly and stir regularly for about a minute. Add wine and allow to simmer for about 3–4 minutes until the liquid reduces by about a third. Add cream, brie and mustard. Continue to simmer and stir until all the cheese is dissolved.

Introduce the seafood and cook for a further 3–5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the seafood is ready to serve. Taste test to check that the seafood is tender.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle liberally with fresh chives. In a colander, refresh the tagliatelle by pouring some hot water over it and shake out any excess water. Plate the tagliatelle and use a ladle to spoon the seafood and sauce on top. Garnish with a final sprinkle of chives.

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paired-champagne-and-sparkling-winesRecipe is taken from the multi award winning – PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book. Written by David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn. You can see more of their tips for matching Champagne and Sparkling in our blog – Make every meal sparkle or check out their website – http://www.paired-media.com

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. In December our giveaway includes a chance to win a copy of the lovely PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book – Join our list!

 

Make every meal sparkle

There is a popular misconception that champagne and sparkling wines are only useful for raising a toast or washing down the canapés at a wedding. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With Christmas and New Years Eve just around the corner it’s time to start experimenting, so we asked our friends Fran Flynn and David Stevens-Castro to share some new ideas to surprise your guests and open the door to new discoveries that your tastebuds will be forever grateful for.

Here are some tips on matching bubbles with your food choice:

While true champagne (i.e. produced in the Champagne region of France) is usually around $50/bottle or more, there are other delicious bubbles that come at a lower premium. Having said that, it is still worthwhile buying the best that your budget can afford, unless you have a hot tip for a cheap steal. Or if not champagne you could choose a nice sparkling produced elsewhere.

French sparkling wine with ‘cremant’ on the label is a creamy style of sparkling wine also produced in France. It is produced with similar methodology to champagne but the grapes come from other regions of France. Cava is the name given to sparkling wine produced predominantly in Northern Spain. It is created using native Spanish grapes that usually present a slightly fruitier style to champagne.

In general dry (brut/extra brut in French) sparkling wines tend to match very nicely with oily, nutty and egg-based dishes. Seafood is also a pretty safe bet — and the perfect match for Christmas day prawns. Chicken can work too, but make sure you take into consideration any sauce that accompanies the dish, e.g. something tomato-based is a no-no, however, light creaminess can still enhance nicely.

See the pairing recipe here for Tagliatelle Marinara with cream sauce and chives

There are red varieties of sparkling wine and some can go beautifully with a meaty meal such as duck or lamb. Australia actually produces the largest proportion of available sparkling shiraz. Young examples are usually refreshing, rich, fruity and juicy with a touch of sweetness. Older examples are typically rich and lush in style, and some high quality bottles are suitable for cellaring and aging. Sparkling red offers a surprising texture on the palate and a sparkling shiraz can be a real conversation starter among virgin tasters. For a new angle to the barbie this Christmas, try some sparkling shiraz with your meal.

Moscato is a low-alcohol sweet, often pink, sparkling wine. It generally has an aroma of Turkish delight and is a delightful daytime tipple for holiday time. It is a beautiful accompaniment to an afternoon of high tea with delicate sweet treats or even your Christmas pavlova.

Sparkling rosé can often be mistaken for a sweet wine due to its pink colour but, in fact, it is usually dry in style and very versatile when it comes to matching food. It has a particular affinity with charcuterie (cured and smoked meats), duck, salads, shellfish, berries and chocolate — and even pork! Again, this is particularly enjoyable on a sunny summer’s day.

So put your preconceived notions to one side, take a step out of your comfort zone, offer your guests something new and bask in discoveries that will surprise and delight your palate (not to mention increase your street cred!).

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Written by Fran Flynn & David Stevens-Castro paired-champagne-and-sparkling-winesDavid Stevens-Castro is a highly regarded wine expert. He has a degree in Agricultural Science, specialising in fruit and wine production, and extensive experience as a sommelier. Fran Flynn is an award-winning commercial photographer and graphic designer. Living together on the Gold Coast, in Australia, they have pooled their skills as a husband-and-wife team to publish a series of books and share their expertise in the things they love. Check out their multi award winning food and wine match book – PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book for everyone at their website – www.paired-media.com

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. In December our giveaway includes a chance to win a copy of the lovely PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book – Join our list! 

 

Why that is not a glass of Champagne that you are drinking!

The answer is simple: it may have bubbles, but does it say Champagne on the bottle? If not, it is a sparkling wine – or referred to as bubbles is fine too.

In order to be called champagne, a sparkling wine must come from the Champagne region of France, can only be made using certain grapes, (the most commonly used are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier) and must be made using the traditional method ‘methode champenoise’ (also referred to as ‘methode traditionelle’), in which secondary fermentation (to create the bubbles) occurs in the bottle.

To clarify, all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne.

Champagnes can be expensive, while sparkling wine is often much more affordable. This comes down to the grape quality as well as the methods used to produce the sparkling wine. While many sparkling wines do implement the labour intensive ‘methode traditionelle’, there are other production techniques used by creating tank wine – sparkling wine carbonated in giant vats instead of individual bottles.

Sparkling wine made using the same process as champagne will have ‘methode traditionelle’, or ‘bottle fermented’ on the label. If you like the champagne style, look for these when purchasing your sparkling wine.

Other names for sparkling wine that you might see are Cava (which comes from Spain), Prosecco (traditionally from Italy, but you might see Australian or US made Proseccos), and Moscato (a sweet style of sparkling from Italy which is also often made in Australia). We are also starting to see French sparkling from other wine regions of France sold in Australia, but due to strict regulations, only if it comes from Champagne can it be labelled as such.

Like our earlier blog on how to pronounce Moët, I feel I need to be specific. If it is not Champagne, it is a glass of bubbles or sparkling, or possibly a Cava or Prosecco, but it is not a Champers or Champagne. And yes bubbles does cover all, which is why we called ourselves The Bubbles Review!

We asked Dan Buckle, Senior Winemaker, from Chandon Australia to give us some detail on the differences between making champagne and making Australian sparkling wine.

Champagne sits among the broader category of sparkling wine, being specifically from Champagne. As such, Champagne wines are regulated by the rules of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, which are quite prescriptive. Champagne wines are, by definition, restricted in terms of terroir, and whilst there are many fine details of Champenoise vineyard country, from a broader view we can say that the climate is cold, and the soils are chalky.

Elsewhere, sparkling wine is a very broad category, and includes a wide range of varieties, styles, flavours and, indeed, quality. Here in Australia, we have significant liberty to make wines where and how we like, with the main regulatory systems focused on label integrity and the limitations of wine additives. We also have much more land available to plant vineyards, and a far greater range of terroirs to draw from. This means our Chandon wines made here have a uniquely Australian signature, drawing from our unique Australian landscape. This is enviable for Old World winemakers, who are restricted in their scope by the structures of tradition and geography. At Chandon, we focus our production on traditional method, drawing from our French heritage and the savoir faire that comes from our strong connection to Champagne. Not for traditional reasons, rather for quality. We cannot replicate the important yeast aromas and textural benefits from long ageing in the bottle on lees.

The process differences are notable. We arechandon-australia-hd-bottle-shots-76-native-mhiswf110951-revision-1 not constrained to using the same cuvee and tailles juice fractions, which are mandatory in Champagne. We are able to use viticultural practices more suited to our local environment. We can even machine harvest in the cold of night, and we can even make sparkling Pinot noir/Shiraz! The pioneering spirit in Australian winemaking is still very much alive.

Dan Buckle is the Senior Winemaker at Chandon Australia.

domaine-chandon-tasting-barFrench heritage, Australian expertise – Chandon is a celebration of its traditional French heritage and the know-how enjoyed in its Australian homeland. Moët & Chandon meets Australia in a world-class winery in the Yarra Valley. Chandon was honoured with international success at the 2016 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, taking out the national trophy for Best Australian Sparkling Wine for the Chandon Prestige Cuvée 2005. It’s a beautiful place to visit and enjoy a tasting at the Cellar Door. Details here www.chandon.com.au/

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!

 

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