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Bubbly Summer Reading

When it comes to reading, I am a bit of a Francophile, especially when it comes to champagne and champagne stories. I love snuggling up with a good book when I can find the time, and during summer in Australia, I like to take some extra days off and have some lazy days in the sun while I immerse myself in a novel. And what better novels to do that with than the ones that are stories about my favourite things!

I’ve recently finished reading Madame Pommery: Creator of Brut Champagne by Rebecca Rosenberg.  I am familiar with Madame Pommery’s story having done quite a bit of research on her for our blog  Celebrating Madame Pommery, and when creating our Champagne 101 Masterclass, I had the pleasure of interviewing the Australian-based ambassador for Champagne Pommery, which is one of the highlights of this Masterclass in our Bubbly Appreciation Course.

As familiar as I am with her story, any interesting historical research relies on our imagination to fill in the details of what the times must have been like. Her contribution in creating the first brut style champagne is epic enough. Add to that becoming a widow with two children, surviving the Champagne region as a war zone, taking a small fledgling champagne business and creating an empire. Rebecca Rosenberg weaves these historical facts into a beautiful romance novel. If you want to drift off into the imaginary world of Champagne, I highly recommend adding this to your summer reading list!

Madame Pommery: Creator of Brut Champagne (Champagne Widows Novels)

1860, Reims, France. Grief hangs heavy, threatening to drown Alexandrine Pommery’s future. Widowed and burdened, she could easily succumb. But a spark ignites within her and she dares to dream of a champagne unlike any other – a dry, crisp masterpiece instead of the traditional sugary sweet champagne. Scoffs meet her vision – ‘Who would drink such a thing?’. But Alexandrine’s spirit is unyielding. In the vineyards, she coaxes grapes to their peak. In the cellars, she experiments. Each trial, each misstep, fuels the fire of her creation – Pommery Brut, a champagne as dry as her resolve, yet bubbling with rebellion.

The Franco-Prussian War shatters the peace in 1870. Son and crew march off, leaving Alexandrine to train women her revolutionary methods. But the Prussian invasion steals all hope, as the army pillages her cellars of precious Brut. Alexandrine refuses to be a victim. She excavates secret caves under the city dump, and hides her champagne from the enemy. Her cellars become a refuge, not just for bottles, but for the French resistance.

To make matters more complicated, two men offer her their love. One, too young, improper, perhaps even scandalous. The other, a Scottish Baron, promises a castle and title, and a life beyond the relentless toil of champagne. Now torn between two men, Alexandrine must find the courage to forge her own path of legacy or love.

Uncork the secrets and taste the audacity of a widow’s dream, and the unwavering spirit of Madame Pommery.

You can order your copy on the Amazon link here.

I’ve just discovered that there is another novel in Rebecca Rosenberg’s ‘Champagne Widows’ series.  Another of the great women of Champagne and the original ‘Veuve’. Clicquot precedes Madame Pommery and is known not only as the first woman of Champagne, but also the first businesswoman of France. I loved discovering all about her when I researched our blog Cheers to the Widow Clicquot!

I’ve just ordered a copy of this earlier novel by Rosenberg, and I am looking forward to creating some reading time to uncover where her imagination takes us when telling the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot’s extraordinary life.

Champagne Widows: First Woman of Champagne, Veuve Clicquot by Rebecca Rosenberg

Reims, France, 1800s. Young widow Barbe-Nicole Clicquot possesses an extraordinary gift: Le Nez, an exquisite sense of smell required to craft the world’s finest champagne. Despite crippling grief and laws against women owning businesses, she negotiates a way to take over her late husband’s struggling winery.

Napoleon’s Code shackles her with business restrictions, his wars strangle the economy, and competitors block her every step. Yet, Barbe-Nicole rises like a defiant bubble, confronting prejudice and even clashing with the Emperor himself.

Then, amidst the chaos, love throws a tempting yet perilous curveball: a passionate connection with her sales manager. But marrying him means forfeiting the winery, forcing her to choose between love and her life’s calling.

Will Barbe-Nicole defy the odds and become the first female champagne mogul, or will her dream be crushed by Napoleon himself?

The captivating story of Veuve Clicquot, a woman who dared to rise above treacherous times, personal loss, and an emperor, leaving an indelible mark on the world of champagne.

You can order your copy on the Amazon link here.

The Champagne War is one that I discovered through one of my friends on Facebook. Fiona McIntosh is an international multi-best-selling Australian author, and together with her husband Ian, is also well known throughout the tourism industry as publishers of a successful travel trade magazine. It was from one of Ian’s Facebook posts that I learned that Fiona was in the process of writing this book, adding another to her series of successful novels. The story is about a journey of determination to honour the family business and the traditions of Champagne. There is angst and heartbreak, with a bit of glitz in Paris, but the story is mostly set amongst the vineyards of Champagne.

The Champagne War by Fiona McIntosh

In the summer of 1914, vigneron Jerome Méa heads off to war, certain he’ll be home by Christmas. His new bride Sophie, a fifth generation champenoise, is determined to ensure the forthcoming vintages will be testament to their love and the power of the people of Épernay, especially its strong women. But as the years drag on, authorities advise that Jerome is missing, considered dead.

When poison gas is first used in Belgium by the Germans, British chemist Charles Nash jumps to enlist. After he is injured, he is brought to Reims, where Sophie has helped to set up an underground hospital to care for the wounded. In the dark, ancient champagne cellars, their stirring emotions take them both by surprise.

While Sophie battles to keep her vineyard going through the bombings, a critical sugar shortage forces her to strike a dangerous bargain with an untrustworthy acquaintance – but nothing will test her courage more than the news that filters through to her about the fate of her heroic Jerome.

‘A fresh, fabulous tale, meticulously researched, and perfectly executed.’ Better Reading

You can order your copy on the Amazon link here.

A Letter from Paris … is a memoir written by my friend Louisa Deasey who, when we first met, was already a best-selling author and just beginning the process of writing this, her second book. It’s not a champagne story as such, but there are mentions of drinking champagne with artists and other writers. It’s an extraordinary story of how she received a letter one day that led to her discovering the life that her father had lived during his time in France after the Second World War. It’s compelling reading.

A Letter from Paris: a true story of hidden art, lost romance, and family reclaimed

by Louisa Deasey

When Louisa Deasey receives a message from a French woman called Coralie, who has found a cachet of letters in an attic, written by Louisa’s father, neither woman can imagine the events it will set in motion.

The letters, dated 1949, detail a passionate affair between Louisa’s father, Denison, and Coralie’s grandmother, Michelle, in post-war London. They spark Louisa to find out more about her father, who died when she was six. From the seemingly simple question ‘Who was Denison Deasey?’ follows a trail of discovery that leads Louisa to the libraries of Melbourne and the streets of London, to the cafes and restaurants of Paris and a poet’s villa in the south of France. From her father’s secret service in World War II to his relationships with some of the most famous bohemian artists in post-war Europe, Louisa unearths a portrait of a fascinating man, both at the epicenter and the mercy of the social and political currents of his time.

A Letter from Paris … is about the stories we tell ourselves, and the secrets the past can uncover. A compelling tale of inheritance and creativity, loss and reunion, it shows the power of the written word to cross the bridges of time.

You can order your copy on the Amazon link here.

The Paris Model is one of the books that got me through our COVID lockdowns. It was such a delight to read, immersing myself in these stories of Paris at a time when we couldn’t physically travel there. I loved the contrast of moving from the Australian outback to post-war Paris. I hope you love it as much as I did!

The Paris Model by Alexandra Joel

‘Captivating and evocative’ Tania Blanchard, author of The Girl from Munich

After a shocking discovery, Grace Woods leaves her vast Australian sheep station and travels to tumultuous post-war Paris to find her true identity.

While working as a mannequin for Christian Dior, the world’s newly acclaimed emperor of fashion, Grace mixes with counts and princesses, authors and artists, diplomats, and politicians. But when Grace falls for handsome Philippe Boyer she doesn’t know that he is leading a double life, nor that his past might inflict devastating consequences upon her. As she is drawn into Philippe’s dangerous world of international espionage, Grace discovers both the shattering truth of her origins – and that her life is in peril.

Inspired by an astonishing true story, The Paris Model is a tale of glamour, family secrets and heartbreak that takes you from the rolling plains of country Australia to the elegant salons of Paris.

‘A wonderful, immersive historical novel’ New Idea

‘A charming tale rich with family and fashion’ Belinda Alexandra

‘The cracking plot and the general glamourcarry the reader along’ The Sydney Morning Herald

‘This gorgeous historical is the perfect summer escape. Post-World War 2 Paris literally drips from the page. Grace is a wonderful protagonist and surrounded by well-drawn and often fabulous characters, and Joel’s prose is rich and descriptive. Highly enjoyable.’ Better Reading

You can order your copy on the Amazon link here.

This book by Tilar Mazzeo, a US wine writer and cultural historian, is the book that I first read on Veuve Clicquot. At the time it was difficult to find much information on her and I read this book cover to cover and then read it again! I credit Tilar in our blog on Cheers to the Widow Clicquot! It is narrative non-fiction storytelling that has been well researched and creates amazing insight into the life of the Widow Clicquot.

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

Veuve Clicquot champagne epitomises glamour, style, and luxury. In The Widow Clicquot …, Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life – for the first time – the fascinating woman behind the iconic yellow label. Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, who, after her husband’s death, defied convention by assuming the reins of the fledgling wine business they had nurtured together. Steering the company through dizzying political and financial reversals, she became one of the world’s first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

As much a fascinating journey through the process of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered woman, The Widow Clicquot … is the captivating true story of a legend and a visionary.

You can order your copy on the Amazon link here.

You can probably find these titles at your local bookstore. To make it easier for you to purchase, we’ve provided Amazon links to all these book titles. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases, however this doesn’t affect your pricing.

I’d love to hear what you think of any of these books, and perhaps you have some bubbly story recommendations of your own that you would love to share with us?

Like to keep following us, get first look at events, receive bubbly information and be in our giveaway draws and have a chance to win a bubbly prize? You can join our list, it’s FREE to join here.

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.

What to serve for a bubbly Christmas!

I am often asked ‘What is my favourite champagne?’, or at our annual The Bubbles Festivals, ‘What is my favourite sparkling wine on our tasting list?’  I try to avoid answering, and sometimes I joke that I answer like a politician – meaning I don’t answer the question! Or liken it to having to name a favourite child.  I love so many different champagnes and sparkling wines and what I choose depends on a range of factors – the occasion, the budget, the weather, what food I’m serving, what do I feel like, who am I drinking it with …?

Everyone’s palate is different, so choosing favourites is entirely subjective. One of my favourite things to do is find new bubbly discoveries, learn from winemakers, and share my knowledge on champagne and sparkling wine. It’s why I created The Bubbles Review and why I include a brief introduction at The Bubbles Festivals, and why I created the Bubbly Appreciation Course and recently, our popular The Bubbles Reviewers Club, where we get to share how different sparklings are created, and all of the things that influence a tasting experience so you can truly appreciate what you’re drinking and understand why you like some sparkling wines more than others.

Choosing bubbly for Christmas is subjective too, and your choices will depend on what sort of Christmas you’re planning? A full sit-down lunch or dinner with a hot meal? Maybe it’s a BBQ, or cold platters of seafood, charcuterie, and salads.

A lot of people tell me they love sparkling reds, especially for Christmas. You may have seen in our blog ‘Big, bold and Bubbly’, and in recent emails and virtual tastings, that I’m not a fan of sparkling reds, but I do appreciate the history of this in Australian sparkling wine, and appreciate that with the right food match it can be a great experience.

We’ve also recently featured some quite different varietals for our The Bubbles Reviewers Club members and our giveaways.  The sparkling tempranillo from Sutherland Estate has been such a hit. The sparkling Roussanne we shared from George’s Folly is so versatile with food matches, as a charmat method it has some lightness on the palate, but also some depth and complexity from the wine making and grape variety.  You could easily serve this throughout the day.

We’ve had so many lovely Aussie sparklings work with us this year, from Tasmania to the Adelaide Hills, to the Hunter, King, Yarra, Barossa, and Swan Valleys.

We’ve featured Italian sparklings and even a sparkling sake!

For champagne lovers we’ve had some wonderful champagnes this year too, some at The Bubbles Festivals as well as giveaways and The Bubbles Reviewers Club partners.  I highly recommend all of them to you at this special time of year. Champagne is not just for pre-meal – you can easily serve champagne throughout the entire menu. I totally recommend staying with bubbles all day! I love a Blanc de Blancs with seafood and look for blends of the ‘holy trilogy’ of sparkling grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier– for more versatility, and Blanc de Noirs and Rosés to match with more robust flavours.  

A family tradition for me is pancakes and champagne on Christmas morning. We enjoy our family meal in the evening, we often have family stay over on Christmas Night, and a Boxing Day tradition is to ‘back it up’ the following day with a champagne breakfast with platters created from lovely festive leftovers.

You may have noticed on our socials recently that the one thing that I refuse to serve is Mimosas! Fine if you want to use a spritzer style sparkling made in the charmat (or even carbonation) method, which are designed to be a mixer like a Prosecco, but please never add orange juice to a beautiful champagne!  Champagne takes years to make, and as you might imagine, I certainly don’t recommend spoiling it by adding a juice! Orange juice is very sweet, you’re not fooling anyone by trying to pretend you’re not drinking bubbles for breakfast by adding a breakfast juice!

Whatever I’m serving, I love sharing the stories behind the wine and always include an introduction to what I’m pouring for my Christmas Day guests.  This year choose something different to surprise and delight your guests.

The most important thing is not to stress, the festive season should be lots of bubbly fun! 

A big shout out to our The Bubbles Festival, The Bubbles Reviewers Club, and giveaway partners in 2023! There were some reliable bubbly favourites and some delightful new sparkling discoveries.  You can see the links to their websites (some still with promo codes) here:

International

Aussie Sparkling

RIEDEL – The Wine Glass Company

You may also like these other blogs:

Champagne for the holiday season

Christmas in Champagne

Why is champagne so expensive

Drinking champagne on a budget

Why that is not a champagne you’re drinking

How to choose the right glassware for your bubbles

Big bold and bubbly!

Like to keep following us, get first look at events, receive bubbly information and be in our giveaway draws and have a chance to win a bubbly prize? You can join our list, it’s FREE to join here.

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.

Sparkling Women of Influence

To celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we are so excited to share this series of interviews with the Sparkling Women of Influence!

I’m the Founder of The Bubbles Review and Creator of The Bubbles Festivals. I’m a serial entrepreneur from Melbourne, Australia. My career starting in banking, but after taking some time out for travel, I realised that it was a better industry for me. Travel is a big part of my life and my career. I’ve travelled a lot and lived in different countries around the world. After learning the ropes as a tour manager in Europe, I returned to Australia at age 28, and established my first business — an inbound travel company bringing visitors from around the world to see Australia. It didn’t occur to me at the time, this was long before the ‘start-up’ trend but it was unusual for women, especially at my young age to be starting a business.

Since then, I have founded multiple businesses, with both 6 and 7 figure success stories and I have had my share of triumphs and so called ‘failures’. After closing my travel company during the GFC, I established a successful consulting, mentoring and speaking business. I like to operate from my core values, one of which is ‘fun’, which we can forget to make a priority in business. I love being able to share this knowledge with others, to help them to take their business and daily life from surviving to thriving.

I have had a love of bubbles for all my adult life. For my 18th birthday I had a champagne luncheon, and not long after that I did the tour of the historic ‘drives’ in the Great Western region in Victoria – arguably the birthplace of Australian sparkling wine, and that created an interest and love of the understanding of the methods used to create this bubbly drink.

Since then, my love of bubbles and travel has taken me to many sparkling wine regions including Champagne (several times!), and I have had the joy of meeting and interviewing many champagne and sparkling winemakers. I love everything about drinking it, as well as the stories, the romance, the glamour of bubbles, and I particularly love meeting the people.

It was around seven years ago, that I had the idea to turn my love of champagne and sparkling wine into a business and I created The Bubbles Review, which allows me the great joy of sharing stories through our blog and incorporating my 30 years of travel industry experience to run events and tours. Creating a business that means you get paid to drink champagne is awesome, and we have been listed in the top champagne blogs in different countries around the world, which is also pretty amazing! We’ve amassed a very engaged following of more than 12,000, and we receive such wonderful feedback on the sparkling wine discoveries and information that we share in our blogs, giveaways, emails to our subscriber lists and at our events.

In the last few years, I’ve ventured into writing and publishing and achieved International Best-Seller status in a series of co-author books. As an author and entrepreneur, I’m often interviewed in the media and recently I was featured in a US publication in an article on Wisdom from the Women Leading the Wine & Spirits Industries.

With almost 30 years as a serial entrepreneur, I do have examples of being treated differently as a woman in business, and have heard similar stories from the women I’ve interviewed. When women do well, so does everyone else. Businesses thrive, and families and relationships are mutually supportive. Today we are very fortunate to have had strong women come before us, but there is still more that can be done.

In this interview series for International Women’s Day, we discover the women working as communicators in sparkling wine and ask “Is it different for women in the industry?”.

In Champagne, we know of historical names of great women of Champagne, and I’ve written articles about the widows (veuves) Clicquot, Pommery and Bollinger, but little is known about the women in Champagne and sparkling wine today. Around 70% of champagne is purchased by women, but women are still under-represented on the industry side with less than 20% of winemakers who are women. It is changing, and I am excited to share these stories of these remarkable women from around the globe who each in their own way are influencing the world of sparkling.

Essi Avellan MW

Essi Avellan MW, Champagne Specialist

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about you, where are you located and what your role is as someone who has influence in the Sparkling Wine industry?

I am a champagne specialist and bubbles aficionado residing in Finland but working internationally, and of course spending as much time as possible in Champagne.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, is your main work in the wine industry or is what you do for sparkling wine a passion project? What was the impetus to start doing what you do and do you have a favourite way (online platforms) to connect with your audience?

I write for Club Oenologique magazine and The World of Fine Wine in the UK and have written several books about Champagne and sparkling wines. Right now, I am working on a grower champagne report for the Club Oenologique magazine. Champagne education is a passion of mine. Furthermore, I organise a great, 3-day champagne event – Grand Champagne Helsinki – every year. 

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

When I started to study for the Master of Wine in 2004, I felt a need to specialise to eventually get to know one region intimately. For me the choice was easy – Champagne – as I had long been an admirer of the finesse and energy of its wines. I also thought that the region not well-known at all, its wine was misunderstood and totally underrated as a gastronomic companion. A lot for me to do!

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine communicator/influencer industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Regrettably, the world is not equal, but we have come a long way in the last decades, at least in the Western world. Lots of glass ceilings have been smashed and women have more and more opportunities. I am loving the development, especially in Champagne, where we have started to have lots of female enologists, even cellar masters – a job traditionally reserved for men.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

I gain so much inspiration from discussing and tasting with the world’s best sparkling winemakers. For the last two weeks I have been touring Champagne growers and getting to known so a many different philosophies as well as taste profiles. Its versatility is such a richness, and what is exciting is that the sparkling wine world is ever-expanding.

Do you only share information about champagne or do you feature other sparkling wines? How do you think that ‘New World Sparklings’ compare to ‘Old world’ European sparklings including champagne?

Great sparkling wines are already made at different terroirs around the world. Very often it has been the Champenois who have ventured to the New World and shown how it is done – and the culture of sparkling wine has spread all over. There are fine sparkling wines made in many cool or moderate climates of the New World. South of England is an exciting, relatively new terrain for sparkling wine. Italy is the most dynamic sparkling wine country right now, and the climate, especially in the mountain vineyards of Trentino, is superbly favourable. The development in Eastern Europe, like Hungary and Romania, is rapid and the results are most encouraging.

I believe that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared.  Can you share a fun story or one of your most joyous moments that happened in the bubbly work that you do?

I loved doing a scientific experiment in the countryside of England, where I and two other Masters of Wine rose to different heights with a hot air balloon to experiment how altitude affects the taste sensation of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne. It felt like more fun than work , but we were able to come to the conclusion that champagne tastes best at ground level!

If you were to describe how you feel about what it means to you to be sharing your love of sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Pleasure, passion, profession

You can find Essi at her website here.

Lucy Edwards

Lucy Edwards,

Founder and Jewellery Designer, Champagne Every Day

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about you, where are you located and what your role is as someone who has influence in the Sparkling Wine industry?

Having worked in the wine industry for 13 years, I am a self-confessed champagne nerd. I am passionate about bringing more interesting cuvées to wine lovers and collectors of the Asia Pacific region through my export consultancy, and I enjoy sharing everything champagne through my jewellery designs, blog and contributions to various online publications including Richard Juhlin’s champagneclub.com and glassofbubbly.com.

I’m flattered to be included here on The Bubbles Review.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, is your main work in the wine industry or is what you do for sparkling wine a passion project? What was the impetus to start doing what you do and do you have a favourite way (online platforms) to connect with your audience?

My career in wine started in 2009, when I worked with the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce on the organisation of the Concours des Vins du Victoria, a wine show where Victorian wine meets the French palate, with over 600 wines judged and tasted by a group of French-Australian critics.

I then went on to work for the second largest producer in Champagne – Vranken-Pommery Monopole. Since 2020, I have been consulting to independent wineries looking to expand their presence in the Asia Pacific region. I also share my musings on champagne through my blog and Instagram.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine

started?

I come from a family of restaurateurs and hoteliers who have an appreciation for fine food and wine, and having grown up in France, champagne was a regular on our festive tables. However, it was only when I returned to Melbourne in 2009 that I was veritably seduced by champagne. At the time, I was working at the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce, and my job was to strengthen trade between France and Australia. I was conducting a trade mission with a smaller champagne house from the Marne Valley, and was expecting a very formal and ostentatious winemaker, which was the image I had of the industry at the time. The third and fourth generation owners couldn’t have been more affable, authentic, and charming, contrasting the less-than-hospitable welcome we received from some of the tough players of the market. We managed to secure two distribution agreements, which made a significant difference to their bottom line, and helped them have their organic conversion certified. From that moment on, I knew I would always have a soft spot for champagne, and decided to commit my career to the world’s most revered wine.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine communicator/influencer industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

I think there is severe under-representation across the entire industry!

In 2020, only 27% of wineries in France are run by women. This certainly has increased since my birth year (the horrible vintage of 1987) when there were less than 14%, but it highlights the fact that it’s an industry that with not achieve parity any time soon.

As a woman working in the champagne business for the last 14 years, I have seen my fair share of sexism. Men offering to buy my wine in exchange for sexual favours, men with less experience being promoted before me, or male buyers telling me that my female palate was irrelevant (even though women are twice as likely to be super-tasters than men. FACT.)

Unfortunately, this is the same issue in every industry – unconscious and conscious bias is pervasive. And if young women don’t see people who look like them in all ranks of the industry, they can’t imagine themselves in those roles. This is particularly true in for communicators, who become the face of the industry.

Therefore, it is our role, as “influencers” or “communicators” to create the new face of the wine industry.

One in which women are present and represented in equal proportion. One in which young women can see themselves building career.

One in which female students can recognise a true career path that will enable them to reach new heights.

For too long, and for generation after generation, we have seen men take over, leaving little room for women to make their mark on the industry. And although I have the occasional bout of imposter syndrome, this is something that drives me to put myself and my ideas out there, and help other women to do so as well.

For centuries, champagne has been known as the Wine of Kings, and King of Wines. With 70% of champagne is bought by women, I think it now needs to be baptised The Queen of Wines and Wine of Queens!

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

I have always been inspired by the story of Madame Pommery, who took up the reins of their newly purchased wine business after the untimely death of her husband in 1858, just months after the birth of their daughter. Not only did she create the first commercialised brut champagne and build up the business to over one million bottles per annum, but she was also the first person in France to create retirement and health funds and a workplace creche for her employees. She founded an orphanage and became a war hero when she scared off Prussian soldiers with a revolver hidden under her crinoline, and saved French doctors on death row during the Franco-Prussian war.

Do you only share information about champagne or do you feature other sparkling wines? How do you think that ‘New World Sparklings’ compare to ‘Old world’ European sparklings including champagne?

Although I do love the occasional English sparkling, and have a soft spot for Ed Carr’s late disgorged vintage Arras, my specialty is champagne, and why I named my website Champagne Everyday! And as they say: Il n’est champagne, que de Champagne – champagne only comes from Champagne.

I do, however, work with wineries from all regions of France and Australia through my export development business CED Agency.

I believe that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared. Can you share a fun story or one of your most joyous moments that happened in the bubbly work that you do?

When I started working in champagne, I fell head over heels in love with the wine. I wanted a way to share my love for the wine, so I started making sterling silver corks to be worn as necklaces, earrings, and charms. Fast forward four years, and I have expanded the range to create small quantities of handmade jewellery including a collection of 18ct vermeil muselets.

During my visit to Champagne in September last year, I was lucky enough to have private tours of some of the iconic houses. Whilst in the reception area of Billecart-Salmon, I met a wonderful American champagne educator who exclaimed “We are wearing the same necklace!” It just so

happened that she was the first person to buy one of my rose gold muselets! It made me feel like we were part of this secret champagne lovers club and spurred me on to create more exceptional pieces. I am now expanding the collection to include matching sets as well as limited edition pieces with gemstones.

If you were to describe how you feel about what it means to you to be sharing your love of sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Joyfulness, conviviality, and the eternal thirst for knowledge

You can find Lucy at her website here

Cynthia Coutu

Cynthia Coutu, Chief Bubbly Officer, Delectabulles

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about you, where are you located and what your role is as someone who has influence in the Sparkling Wine industry?

I am Canadian and have been living in Paris for over 30 years. I founded Delectabulles five years ago. “Delect” means to savor, and “bulles” means bubbles. It started as a champagne networking club for expat women living in Paris. At the beginning I only hosted champagne workshops specifically geared towards women. The goal was to give women the tools and confidence to understand what style of champagne they preferred and why, for them to experience pairing different kinds of food with different styles of champagne, try the same champagne in different styles of glasses to see how the shape affects the bubbles and aromas, to give them tips about how and where to shop for champagne, and all that while getting to know other like-minded women living in the City of Light.

Delectabulles has since expanded. Non-members from around the world can attend the champagne workshops (but men need to be accompanied by a woman). Once a month I also partner with a female entrepreneur and we co-host a bubbly event to showcase her business (e.g. artist who paints champagne, chef, writer, inventor of shoes with interchangeable heels, makeup artist, etc.). I also host fun workshops about other sparkling wines (e.g. Boules et Bulles – guests learn how to play pétanque and about fizz). I also organise and lead bespoke tours to Champagne to learn even more about le champagne (the wine) and la Champagne (the region). The excursions now occupy most of my time. I also occasionally judge champagne at international wine competitions.

What makes me different from other champagne educators or guides is that I only use champagnes made by women during my workshops in Paris, and I only take guests to visit champagne houses where women play an important role. It is my small way of supporting women in the male-dominated wine industry. I am also currently researching the role of women in the history of Champagne for a book project. I think I will call the book ‘Bubbly Badasses’.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, is your main work in the wine industry or is what you do for sparkling wine a passion project? What was the impetus to start doing what you do and do you have a favourite way (online platforms) to connect with your audience?

I obtained a BA in Fine Arts (Photography) in Canada, then came to France to do a Masters in Art History at the Sorbonne. My love of wine and cheese kept me in France. After 20 years working at the Canadian Embassy in France and the OECD, I hung up my international civil servant hat and pursued my passion. I studied wine at L’Académie du Vin and L’École du Vin, and am certified Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 3 with Merit.

At wine school I realised two things: 1) the more you learn about wine, the more you realise there is to learn about wine because it touches on everything – history, geography, chemistry, agriculture, etc. That is why I decided to specialise in champagne – the king of wines and the wines of kings! 2) I also realised that the wine industry in France was male dominated. That is why I decided to only use champagnes made by women, and to teach women about it. They buy 70% of champagne, so it is important for them to understand the different styles, champagne, and food pairings, and how to get the best bang for their buck.

My favorite way of connecting with champagne-lovers is definitely in person, especially during harvest. I love bringing guests to witness the beehive in the vineyards, tasting the juice fresh off the press, and introducing them to the women behind the bottles.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

I vaguely remember splurging on a bottle to bring to a champagne party when I was a starving university student in Canada. That was about 35 years ago! I don’t remember what any of the bottles tasted like. I only remember the festive side of it, and feeling like a queen drinking champagne all night! It wasn’t until I left wine school six years ago that I developed a passion for champagne. That is when I really started discovering just how complex its production was compared to other wines. A still wine made from just one grape variety from just one year seemed boring compared to a champagne, which can be a blend of eight different grape varieties, single or multiple plots, single or multiple villages, vintage or multi-vintage, stainless steel or oak winemaking vessels, etc. The diversity of styles of champagnes fascinates me!

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine communicator/influencer industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

This might be a generalisation, but when I look at Instagram accounts, I find that accounts managed by men tend to be a series of photos of bottles. The more expensive the bottle the better. Captions usually include lots of very detailed technical notes. It feels like they are showing off and saying: “Look how big mine is!”. When I look at accounts managed by women, I see mostly selfies of young women all glammed up, often revealing lots of cleavage, holding a bottle. Captions hardly say anything. I call that: “Bottles and Boobs”. And it drives me NUTS! It goes against everything I am trying to do with Delectabulles. I joke that I try to empower women one bottle of champagne at a time.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

It isn’t one person in particular. It is an association of nine women in Champagne called “La Transmission, Femmes en Champagne”. They are from different sub-regions in Champagne, different ages, and play different roles is their champagne houses. They formed this association to support each other and transmit their knowledge. You can find out more information about them here.

Do you only share information about champagne or do you feature other sparkling wines? How do you think that ‘New World Sparklings’ compare to ‘Old world’ European sparklings including champagne?

I host workshops about other styles of sparkling wines. In April, for example, I will be co-hosting one with a fellow Canadian wine professional. She will be bringing over some sparkling wines from Nova Scotia and British Columbia, made using the traditional method, and by women of course. We will explore the differences between these wines and Pet Nat, Prosecco, Franciacorta, Cava, Sekt, Crémant and Champagne – so different styles from both sides of the pond. One is not better than the other. They are different, and understanding the differences is the fun part.

I believe that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared.  Can you share a fun story or one of your most joyous moments that happened in the bubbly work that you do?

Champagne has the magic power of transforming an ordinary moment into an extraordinary moment. My Instagram account is chock-a-block full of stories of precious champagne moments that I have created and shared with fellow champagne-lovers. Perhaps one of the moments I am most proud of was taking a deaf person to Champagne for the day and witnessing his joy learning about the wine with Charlotte de Sousa, a producer who knew sign-language. That said, champagne doesn’t always have to be shared. I have been known to pop a cork when I finally get around to vacuuming my apartment. Definitely a cause for celebration!

If you were to describe how you feel about what it means to you to be sharing your love of sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Onwards and upwards, like a champagne bubble!

You can find Cynthia at the Delectabulles website here

Blaine Ashley

Blaine Ashley, Founder, New York Champagne Week

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about you, where are you located and what your role is as someone who has influence in the Sparkling Wine industry?

I’m based in New York City and I’m the founder of both New York Champagne Week (NYCW) and The FIZZ is Female, the latter of which promotes and celebrates empowerment of women around the world in the bubbly wine business be they winemakers, boardroom execs, or sparkling wine lovin’ side hustlers. 

Can you tell us a bit about your background, is your main work in the wine industry or is what you do for sparkling wine a passion project? What was the impetus to start doing what you do and do you have a favourite way (online platforms) to connect with your audience?

I’ve been in the hospitality business for 22 years, and the wine and spirits event/marketing focused business for the past 13 years having launched NYCW 10 years ago. YAY! This year, we’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary!

I’ve fully dedicated my work to this business since launching NYCW in 2013 and in 2018, I debuted The FIZZ is Female making this year our 5th anniversary. The impetus for me to launch NYCW was to market the champagne lifestyle in an accessible, approachable, affordable fashion to remove the stodginess from traditional champagne marketing and make it an everyday wine sipping beverage consideration. The goal was to make champagne FUN! and to demonstrate that champagne isn’t just for traditional celebrations – weddings, birthdays, bridal showers. Rather, every day is cause for celebration and a great day to open a bottle of champagne.

The FIZZ is Female was born out of my own trials and tribulations of launching a wine-centric business in an extremely male dominated industry. I wanted to create a forum and a safe space to encourage conversations, direction, and programming for women in wine with aspirations to have the courage and confidence level up and evolve. The FIZZ is Female is a support system and connecting tool for all women in sparkling wine around the world – not just champagne.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

Yes! I was 19 and was working as the head hostess at famed beachfront restaurant in O’ahu, Hawai’I – Michele’s. Michele’s is an authentic, French restaurant in my home state of Hawai’I, boasting the most stunning sunset views over the ocean and is well known for countless proposals. I always got to see champagne bottles being opened at proposals and often got to taste the champagnes that were being poured at the celebrations. My passion for the art of champagne was born and bred during my time at Michele’s. Shout out to my GM-Philip Shaw who really groomed me for the champagne lifestyle 🙂

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine communicator/influencer industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Of course! We’re totally outnumbered. This said, I’m blown away by the progress we’ve made in the past ten years since I started NYCW. There are many more women in C-suite positions and an influx of women winemakers. When I started, family-run wineries almost always put the women in marketing positions. That was a female’s place.

This said, I can’t say how many times I’ve told someone I work in champagne, and they say “For which brand?” or I mention NYCW and they say “So what’s your role?”, or “Who’s your boss?”.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

Women in this industry have been the most inspiring to me. Two standouts are Rita Jammet and Michelle DeFeo. Rita is a force in NYC’s food and beverage industry, having co-owned former restaurant La Caravelle in mid-town Manhattan. La Caravelle was a stomping ground for NYC aristocrats and glitterati alike, as well as a hub where several of the city’s best chefs cut their teeth, or knives in some cases. During her time at the restaurant, Rita launched La Caravelle champagne as an amenity for VIP guests and after its closure following 9.11, Rita continued with the champagne as Chief Bubble Officer (aka owner, ambassador) and today, it continues to be one of the top-poured brands at some of the best restaurants in NYC. Rita continues to expand La Caravelle’s footprint nationally having launched in California a few years ago. Being a pioneer in the private label champagne space is incredibly inspiring, as are Rita’s close relationships in the business. Everyone loves Rita and her reputation precedes her, proving that relationships are everything in the business.

Michelle is the President of Champagne Laurent-Perrier. Michelle has over two decades of experience in the wine industry and has spent over 15 years with Champagne Laurent-Perrier US. Michelle is responsible for growing the brand presence and awareness throughout the country as she leads a pre-dominantly female sales and marketing team. Michelle’s role is quite entrepreneurial, filled with calculated risks, and twists and turns. Let’s just say as an avid entrepreneur, I can relate!

I also admire Michelle’s determination to expand her knowledge and skillsets while climbing the corporate ladder. During her ascension at Laurent Perrier US, she invested in attending business school, attained the WSET Level 3 certification and is a Certified Sommelier. Michelle is an exemplary example of doing it all!

Do you only share information about champagne or do you feature other sparkling wines? How do you think that ‘New World Sparklings’ compare to ‘Old world’ European sparklings including champagne?

New York Champagne Week strictly promotes and markets champagne made in the Champagne region of France.

I do appreciate other sparkling wines however, and that’s where the Fizz is Female comes in. With this platform I get to shine a spotlight on other regions that produce stellar, premium sparkling wines. I’ve been thrilled to get to work with the Cava DO the past few years to get Cava Discovery Week off the ground and pay homage to top notch Spanish sparklings.

Franciacorta and Trentodoc continue to impress me with their méthode traditionnelle styles.

And, surprisingly, I was recently introduced to Armenian sparkling, and it totally blew me away, in particularly – Keush – the first traditional method sparkling wine crafted from only Armenian Indigenous varieties. Keush’s grapes are sourced from vineyards 1,750 metres (nearly 6,000 feet) above sea level and grown in volcanic soil. They are some of the highest vineyards in Armenia and the world. They also practice méthode traditionnelle.

Other than this, being a beach and bubbly lover, I’d love to get to know Baja sparkling a bit more – many of which, I understand, are female made. Vinos espumosos boast a wide spectrum from traditional-method wines styled after champagne to minimal-intervention natural sparklers such as pét-nat. The region has minimal appellation-based rules and is thus more flexible and creative when playing with grapes and styles.

I believe that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared.  Can you share a fun story or one of your most joyous moments that happened in the bubbly work that you do?

I’ve been fortunate to have many memorable and joyous moments throughout my 10 years of NYCW. At the core, I believe that good food and drink is best experienced with friends and family. My 40th birthday was pretty special and absolutely joyous. I spent it at my best friend’s family beach condo in San Diego with some of my nearest and dearest.

Many brands I’ve worked with through the years sent me a magnum or special bottle to celebrate with. I was overjoyed, as I didn’t expect so many beautiful bottles to be sent my way for my milestone birthday. I was thrilled to get to enjoy them with some of my best friends and family over a beachside sunset, reggae music, build your own taco bar and an epic Flour Shop confetti cake that Rita Jammet shipped over to me from NYC. It was the PERFECT day!

If you were to describe how you feel about what it means to you to be sharing your love of sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Bubbly (quite literally), Happy, FUN!

Anything else you would like to add to your comments?

I hope to clink glasses with you all this year at one or ALL our 10th Anniversary festivities for New York Champagne Week!

You can find Blaine at the NYCW website here

The Champagne Chick

Linn aka The Champagne Chick

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about you, where are you located and what your role is as someone who has influence in the Sparkling Wine industry?

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, I grew up on a wine farm, although I don’t drink wine at all, I only drink champagne, a whisky every now and again and I love cocktails – even better if they’re champagne cocktails.  Having a son who is a mixologist who crafts bespoke cocktails is definitely a perk as well.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, is your main work in the wine industry or is what you do for sparkling wine a passion project? What was the impetus to start doing what you do and do you have a favourite way (online platforms) to connect with your audience?

The Champagne Chick is my Passion Project. It came to life a few years ago purely out of my love for Champagne, initially sharing fun quotes and info on my Facebook and Instagram to a small following. Fast forward about two years, one specific champagne quote later, and the pages went viral.  My aim is to share everything and anything champagne-related – from industry news, to where to get the best deals on champagne, locally as well as abroad, champagne-inspired merchandise, and everything a girl would need to live the champagne life.  My favourite platform currently is Instagram.  What gives me most joy is introducing people to new, unknown champagne houses and growers, and to get people to broaden their tastes to experiment with new champagnes that they would not normally try.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

Growing up in a wine producing country where local sparkling wine has risen to enviable heights, I have been drinking “bubbles” since my late teens/early twenties, but my very first encounter with champagne was on my 21st birthday and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine communicator/influencer industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Yes, I do feel that as women in this industry we are not taken quite as seriously as our male counterparts.  However, today there are many, many highly successful female influencers and educators that are making great strides to carve out their place, and there are more and more people willing to listen to what they have to say.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

The tenacity, innovation, and the sheer determination of the founding mothers of Champagne such as the widow Clicquot, Lily Bollinger and Louise Pommery to name just a few, is truly inspiring.  What these women managed to achieve in the 1800 and early 1900s is nothing short of greatness.

Do you only share information about champagne or do you feature other sparkling wines? How do you think that ‘New World Sparklings’ compare to ‘Old world’ European sparklings including champagne?

I only share information about champagne.  Although there are many sparkling wines produced in many countries across the globe, the intrigue and romance surrounding champagne and the history of the region is really something quite special.

I believe that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared.  Can you share a fun story or one of your most joyous moments that happened in the bubbly work that you do?

The most joyous moments of what I do in and around champagne and the industry is undoubtedly when I get to travel to Champagne.  Ideally, I try to visit the region every 18–24 months, and with the COVID lockdowns, I really had Champagne withdrawal, so the moment the borders re-opened I booked the first of a few trips to Champagne during 2022.

If you were to describe how you feel about what it means to you to be sharing your love of sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Passion, Inspiration, Joy.

Anything else you would like to add to your comments?

I like to not take myself too seriously and love a good champagne quote.  My most favourite is actually one of my own – “You don’t eat the same meal every evening, why would you drink the same champagne every day?”

You can find The Champagne Chick on her website here.

You may also enjoy these blogs:

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Here’s cheers to the fabulous women of Champagne

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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.

Tips for staying bubbly with sparkling

When it comes to waking up feeling fresh after a night out, bubbles often get a bad wrap, and I see it as one of my missions in life to help people understand what the issue might really be and develop the art of indulging without the headache.

When I tell people about The Bubbles Review, mostly I get an excited response, but sometimes people tell me that “I tried champagne when I was younger and it made me sick, so I haven’t drunk it since.”

My next question is to ask when that was. If it was as a teenager, I then ask if they know what they drank? My response is usually that is more likely the quality of the fizz they were drinking, than it was champagne. And it is probably more than likely that they were not actually drinking champagne!

“Bubbles gives me a headache.” Once I again, I tend to ask a few more questions. I would suggest that it was the quality (and perhaps the quantity) of the drink, not the bubbles.

If I am handed a glass of bubbles at a function and I don’t know what it is, and at first sip I get a hint of a headache in the making, I’ll sit out and drink a glass of something else, even sparkling water. I’d rather feel good the next day than drink bad wine, and life is too short to drink bad sparkling!

I also ask what they drank after the champagne? The story then leads onto the other drinks they had. I find mixing the drinks is often the issue. If I stick to good champagne or sparkling and drink water in between, I wake up fresh the next day.

Tasting sparklings in tasting pours and having little food tastes in between is one of my favourite ways to try sparkling wine. It’s a great way to test to see the different wine styles that you like, and it is why we chose this format for one of our main events – The Bubbles Festival. Even with tasting pours though, the amount you taste can be surprising. We do indicate that to our guests before they come, and a 2-hour tasting session is the perfect amount of time to taste a responsible amount and still leave bubbly. If you then go and drink more afterwards, that’s not the result from our event!

I sat in on an interview with Clovis Taittinger from Champagne Taittinger a few years ago, and I loved one of his quotes – “Taittinger will look after you.” You’ll still wake up fresh the next day.  

But let’s add a bit of scientific research into the mix.

Bubbles go straight to my head!

There have been a few scientific studies conducted at different universities around the world that indicate that with bubbles, you get a faster rate of absorption. It is thought that the carbon dioxide (bubbles) move the alcohol through your system more quickly. This can produce higher blood alcohol levels (and brain levels), if you drink sparkling wine as opposed to something non-carbonated. It’s also been mentioned that this effect may also occur with carbonate mixers in other alcoholic drinks and drinking carbonated water along with wine. I’ve then read interpretations that some scientists go on to say that it is this that makes the hangover worse and to avoid champagne. I would argue that there could still be a range of factors to consider. My personal interpretation is that if it moves the alcohol through your system more quickly, and you pace yourself accordingly, and have a gap between glasses and stay hydrated in between, then you’ll be more likely to have it out of your system earlier.

We want to keep those beautiful bubbles! Not only do they add to the mouth feel and experience of them bursting onto your palate, but they also contribute to the flavour and aroma of champagne, because they oxygenate the wine after it’s poured and this diffuses compounds in the wine with them as they rise.

And you’re consuming less alcohol than with a lot of still wines (or spirits), as most sparkling wines are lower in alcohol. Proseccos are usually around 11%, and champagne and other sparklings around 12–12.5%. Other wines are usually around 13–15%.

This article includes my interpretation of information and personal opinion. I’m not a scientist, or a medical expert, so if you are having reactions from drinking bubbles then please seek further advice. We do not suggest that anything in this article represents medical advice or a replacement for medical advice.

A small sip gives me a headache – let’s explore some possible causes.

It’s the sulfites

There is a heap of research about this, and at The Bubbles Review we try to keep things simple, rather than quoting all the scientific data. I’ll break it down to a few points that might be of interest, and if it piques your interest or concern, I suggest you investigate further.

At our Sparkling Masterclasses and The Bubbles Festivals, I often get asked about sulfites. It’s like a ‘buzz word’ that people have decided they are bad without really knowing anything about them.

Sulfites are found naturally on grapes, and sulfur is also commonly added in small amounts at the beginning of fermentation and prior to bottling. Typically, red wines have about 50–350 ppm (parts per million), and white wines have more because of the sensitivity to light, heat, and discoloration with about 250–450 ppm. The general litmus test for sulfites sensitivity is dried fruit. Dried mangos and apricots contain about 4–10 times as many sulfites as wine (1,000–3,000 ppm).

Preservative (INS 220) (popularly known as sulphur dioxide), is a food additive that is used as a food and wine preservative. Its main role is to prevent enzymatic and bacterial spoilage of food products. The use of sulphur dioxide goes back to Roman times, where they would use it to help preserve wine. It is commonly added in foods and beverages like dried fruits, pickled vegetables, sausages, fruit and vegetable juices, cider vinegar and wine.

Preservative (E 224) is a food additive that is a well-established and proven preservative used in the wine and food industries. It is a white crystalline powder that is a potassium salt of sulphurous acid. Preservative (E 224) is commonly added to wine or must (crushed grape juice – that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit) in which it forms sulfur dioxide gas (SO2). This helps prevent micro-organisms from growing, and it acts as an antioxidant, protecting the colour and delicate flavours of wine. It is also used to preserve the taste of dehydrated foods and makes these foods more palatable. It is also used to preserve frozen vegetables, frozen shellfish, fruit juice, and pickles and increases their shelf-life.

About 1% of the population is allergic to sulphites and some people have a reaction to certain preservatives – namely 220 and 224 – that are often found in wine. These allergic reactions can be severe, and if you think it is a concern, it is a good idea to get tested. It is because of the health concern for the sensitive population, depending on the country you’re in, wines with sulfites (the limit amount may vary in different countries), anything above 10 ppm must be labeled with ‘contains sulfites’.

From the research that I have read, for most of us it is probably more likely the tannins or a reaction to another compound. Here is a breakdown of a few:

Sulfites – Naturally occurring substances in wine that are created as part of the fermentation process. Additional sulfites are often added to wine prevent oxidation and maintain freshness. Sulfites also naturally exist in eggs, teas, and other fermented foods, plus sulfites are added to other foods (like baked goods) to help maintain freshness.

Tannins – Naturally-existing compounds in plants with extremely astringent properties, contributing to bitterness and the dry mouth feeling present in bold wines (such as cabernet). Tannins are heavily present in all parts of the grape plant (seeds, skins, and stems), therefore red wines (that are typically fermented with these parts), tend to have more tannins than white wines. They are less present in most sparklings, as they don’t typically spend time on skins after pressing. This is certainly something to keep in mind, as some people are sensitive to tannins.

Tyramine – Another natural food-based phenomenon, this compound is created from the breakdown of a specific amino acid and is also often found in aged or fermented foods like cheese and wine. High amounts of tyramine in the blood can affect blood pressure.

Histamine – Yet another compound created through the fermentation process, histamine is also produced by the body’s immune system. A specific enzyme is needed to process histamine and those with lower levels of this enzyme may experience adverse effects.

There are some producers making sulfite-free wines, and this could be something for you to explore. If you’re have a reaction with sulfite-free wines, some recent research suggests that the culprit is more likely to be a group of compounds called biogenic amines (BA). Present in all fermented food and drink, BAs increase with food spoilage. They’re produced from amino acids via enzymic activity in living organisms like microbes, most often a subset of bacteria. The best-known biogenic amine – histamine – is produced when microbes remove carbon dioxide from the amino acid histidine. Histamine is also produced by the body and is involved in immune and allergic responses.

Cheap Fizz

There are many methods and tools that winemakers use to make wine, and with sparkling this includes the first fermentation process to create the still wine, and then the second fermentation process to create the bubbles. 

For the second fermentation, it takes years to create a traditional method sparkling, which is why this wine will usually have a higher price tag. Quicker methods are the Charmat or Tank Method, which can be done in weeks. It has spent time on lees (yeast), which creates complexity, but not a great length of time or concentrated as it is not in bottle but in a large tank. It creates a wine displaying more fruitier characteristics. Another method that is used that is the cheapest method is pure carbonation. This is adding Co2 to a still wine – yes just like a soda stream!

Spumante just means Sparkling Wine in Italian. But if you were drinking sparkling wine in Australia in the 70s and 80s, you may remember colloquially the ‘spu’ part of this word was used to describe some wines. The trend was for very sweet and cheap wines on the market. Don’t let the name fool you, we have some lovely sparkling wines from Italy available in Australia today. If you see the name Spumante on the bottle, it just means sparkling, no need to think back to your teenage years.

Cheaper wines can often mean cheaper processes, or additives to try to emulate qualities of more complex wines. This can include higher alcohol and added sugar. Price is not always an indicator, but it often is.

Sugar in wines

We are noticing a trend for low or no sugar wines on the market. Looking after your health by seeking drinks that are low in sugar is a good idea. The good news is most sparklings are already low in sugar! If it says Brut on the label, which most champagnes are, it is somewhere between zero to less than 12 gms of residual sugar. If it says Extra Brut, it is the drier scale of Brut at below 6 gms, and Brut Nature or Brut Zero is 0–2 gms. Confusingly, higher than Brut on the sweetness scale is Extra Dry – you’ll often see Italian sparklings like Prosecco in this range, which is 12–17gms. Then it goes Dry, Half Dry then Doux, which is sweet at 50gms or more. I have noticed some companies promoting champagnes in the Brut Nature or Extra Brut as Keto wines. Yes, they are ‘Keto’, but they are designed for the wine style not a diet, just look for Brut Nature on the label. In the Extra-Brut range, it calculates at up to around 0.9 carbs per serving. Brut is up to 1.8 carbs per serving. Compare that to a potato at around 37 carbs. And your glass of bubbly is low calorie too, with the Brut range at less than 100 calories. You don’t need to buy bubbly sold as low sugar, just learn to read the labels. If you are interested to discover more about sweetness levels and labels, we cover this in our Tasting Techniques Masterclass in our online Bubbly Appreciation Course.

Now that we’ve finished the research bit, here are a few tips for staying bubbly!

Moderation – of course, consumption of alcohol in moderation is recommended.

Keep hydrated – it’s often easy to forget but keep hydrated and drink a glass of water for each glass of bubbles.

Eat something when you drink – food helps absorb alcohol. Champagne and sparkling wine is often served as a ‘pre’, an aperitif, the drink that you have before a meal. I do argue that champagne can definitely be paired with a full course menu, and I opt for this and tend to stick to champagne all evening. It’s also why we include food at our events including The Bubbles Festival. A good food match can also enhance the food and wine experience, as well as providing some absorption for the alcohol.

Invest in quality sparkling – if you’re drinking in moderation and staying hydrated, and still waking feeling ‘dusty’, it may be the quality of wine that you’re drinking. As I’ve matured in age (just like a fine wine), I’ve changed my preference to quality over quantity. I’d much rather have one glass of something of quality than more than that of cheap fizz. If you’re getting a headache from bubbles, it could from methods of cheap winemaking, which are often high in residual sugar and other additives.

Investigate the reaction

There are a lot of factors that can be causing a reaction. You could try some alcohol-free days in your week to see if it changes how you wake in the morning. I know when I had some gut health issues, I was still waking with low energy, even if I hadn’t had bubbles, and I understood there were other lifestyle aspects that needed to be addressed. If it is of concern, then seeking medical assistance and getting tested for allergies may be of benefit.

If you think it is a histamine reaction, tannins do cause reactions in some people and headaches are a possibility. If you are sensitive to tannins, then you may also have that reaction when drinking red wine or tea. Tyramine may also be to blame, as it can affect blood pressure and has also been suggested to cause headaches. If you also get a headache after eating aged cheeses, smoked fish or cured meat independently of wine, this may be a sign you have a tyramine sensitivity. You could investigate these and if it is the case with these, it is probably the same with all wines, not just bubbles. Antihistamines might be a relief if you find yourself suffering from this.  

While sulfites can trigger reactions, and it seems that this is not typically headaches. There isn’t much science supporting the link with sulfites and headaches. Wine contains about 10 times fewer sulfites than dried fruits and several other foods, and if you’re not having a reaction to these, the sulfites in wine are probably not affecting you either.

On the other hand, for those of you who know or think you might be part of the 1% of the population who is allergic to sulphites or have a reaction to certain preservatives, avoiding products containing these are one solution. There are also a few products making their way onto the market that are aimed at helping you lower tannin and sulfite levels in wine, as well as rehydrate after a couple of glasses. While they are not TGA (or FDA in USA) approved treatments, they offer some interesting options. I recently tested Glow After, a product that you add a drop into your glass to negate the presence of sulphites. I tried it at home with a few different glasses of sparkling, and I detected a slight difference in aroma, bead, and flavour after adding (but I do have a sensitive nose and palate). If you think you’re having a reaction to preservatives, this could be something to try. This brand is Australian-owned by two female entrepreneurs based in Newcastle, NSW. The purpose of the preservatives to keep the wine pristine before you open it, but they are not necessary once the wine is poured. This product claims that by adding a drop, the level of sulphites left in your glass is so little that it is considered preservative free.

Bubbles with low or no alcohol

If you wanted to lower your alcohol consumption, there are new no or low alcohol wines coming onto the market that include sparklings. This can be a good way to still be out enjoying being social drinks with friends. I haven’t tested them but let me know if you do and if you have any feedback. Here are a few things to consider when choosing no or low alcohol alternatives.  

Fermentation to create wine is what creates the alcohol. Winemakers work with this fermentation to get the desired end result of alcohol for their drink. It is also part of what creates the body in wine.

Some non-alcoholic wines are created using wine grape varieties that haven’t gone through the vinification process. They are really a varietal grape juice – pressed to get juice, but never fermented. More likely to be fresh and fruity like a juice.

What is becoming more prevalent is dealcoholized wine, going a step further than bottled varietal juice by taking fully vinified wine and then removing the alcohol. This process is more likely to produce something that tastes more like a ‘normal wine’. Some people tell me they can’t tell the difference.

Then there are Proxies. As the name suggests – a proxy is someone with the authority to represent someone else – they are not really a wine but are designed to emulate wine. Unlike dealcoholized wine, which is a wine first and then has the alcohol removed, proxies are made by layering ingredients like varietal wine grapes, fruits, teas, spices, bitters, and more, to produce the complexity, tannin, texture, acid, and body intrinsic in wine. Many proxies are designed specifically with a food pairing in mind. It does make me think it would be more like an iced tea that tastes like wine, or maybe a wine mixed with spice.

Don’t drink late at night

My favourite time for bubbles is lunch, afternoon, or early evening. Start early, home early. Time to recover before bed. You’ll see the timing for our events reflects this trend as well. Alcohol is known to cause dehydration, drops blood sugar levels, depletes minerals, and can disrupt your sleep. A good tip is to finish early (after dinner at latest), and drink a few glasses of water after your bubbles. Make sure you have a few alcohol-free hours before bed. It will help take out that 4am wakeup call you sometimes get after drinking alcohol (which alternative medicine practitioners have told me is the time your liver wakes you up processing the days events).

Have a bubbly morning

Ok, we like it for breakfast too! It’s the breakfast of celebrities, according to the quote from Marilyn Monroe “I go to bed with a few drops of Chanel No. 5, and I wake up each morning to a glass of Piper-Heidsieck; it warms me up.” As much as I love a champagne breakfast (and I do this on special occasions a couple of times a year), I’m not suggesting we take wellness advice from celebrities or that you drink champagne for breakfast daily. I find a glass of good quality sparkling mineral water will give you a lift in the morning – not just soda water, as it is the mineral replacement that makes the difference.

At The Bubbles Review we like to debunk the myths and make the art of drinking champagne and sparkling wine accessible. We do that with our blog, our courses, and events and tours. If you found this article interesting you may also like our:

Bubbly Appreciation Course

Events and Tours

The Bubbles Festival

Why that is not a glass of champagne that you are drinking

Stay bubbly – cheers!

Like to keep following us, get first look at events, receive bubbly information and be in our giveaway draws and have a chance to win a bubbly prize? You can join our list, it’s FREE to join here.

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.

Champagne for the holiday season

What champagne to serve during the holiday season!

I often get asked – what is my favourite champagne? I try to avoid answering, sometimes I joke that I answer that like a politician – meaning, I don’t answer the question. Or liken it to having to name a favourite child.  I love so many different champagnes and sparkling wines and what I choose depends on a range of factors – what’s the occasion, what is the budget, what is the weather, what food are you serving, what do I feel like, who are you drinking it with …?

But I am feeling the Christmas spirit, so here are a few answers to your questions on champagne for the holiday season!

Which lower price range champagne(s) do you recommend for Christmas and NYE and Why?

Piper-Heidsieck’s Brut Non-Vintage (NV)

If you want to drink champagne like a celebrity for an affordable price, Piper Heidsieck is the go-to. One of the oldest champagne houses, with history dating back to 1777.  The label boasts Queen Marie Antoinette, a lover of bubbles, as their first ‘brand ambassador’. From Chinese Emperors to European royalty, Heidsieck and Co (as it was first known), was given the privilege of a Royal Warrant from 14 royal and imperial courts.

In Hollywood, fans include classic celebrity names like Bogart, Gable, Astaire, and Marilyn Monroe famously declared in 1953: “I go to bed with a few drops of Chanel No. 5 and I wake up each morning to a glass of Piper-Heidsieck; it warms me up.” It’s still celebrated in style in modern day Hollywood, in recent years as the official champagne for the Oscars.

In Australia, we see brand recognition for Piper-Heidsieck NV as an entry level non-vintage cuvée. You’ll often see it on special with a price-based promotion, especially at Christmas time. I managed to find it at a real bargain price this year! The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is usually true, you may think that the entry level pricing, indicates less quality. Not so in this case.  The Chef de Cave’s (Chief Winemakers) at Piper have been awarded best winemaker nine times since 2002.

There’s freshness, fruitiness, acidity, and nice maturity. A blend of the main three Champagne grape varieties, with around Pinot Noir (50%), Meunier (30%), Chardonnay (20%), the blend has more than 100 different crus from vineyards across Champagne and has been aged for four years on lees. Which is much longer than most NVs. As a good Non-Vintage should provide, you get consistency, and quality, you know you’re drinking champagne with that toasty complexity, but it is still light and bright. Perfect for New Year’s Eve party drinking!

What would you pair with this champagne?

This can easily be served on its own, for a food match it is very versatile. It can work with fresh seafood, like oysters or lobster, or fish like salmon cooked in a creamy sauce. Because of the amount of red fruit in the blend, it can also pair with a range of dishes, like roast chicken, or duck and lighter red meats. Appetisers like, charcuterie, smoked salmon blinis, and hard cheeses like shaved parmesan, or cheesy dishes or cheese tarts, will also work well.   

If you have cash to splurge, which champagne(s) do you recommend for Christmas and NYE and Why?

A few tips on choices here.  For me, it depends on the party. If I’ve selected a top champagne or vintage, I would serve this in an intimate gathering.  A few select people, select good glassware (no skinny flutes), take time to introduce the wine, so that people appreciate the wine and the tasting experience. 

You could choose to try a vintage from a Champagne house of your favourite NV.  A Vintage, reflects the year of the harvest, so it is a different expression in the glass.  Or choose a grower or small maison champagne for a terroir or single vineyard experience.  You could probably find something around $120-$150. 

If you want to splash with a prestige name that you know of and buy the best that you can for your budget for that label.  Here’s a quick check on Christmas specials, I see that Krug, is around $365, Dom Perignon at around $350.  Krug at this price is a NV, known for highlighting a prestige multi vintage (MV) style, and Dom for producing vintage only. The Dom vintage available at most retail stores at the moment is probably 2012, but you might find earlier vintages at some places.  If you love Louis Roederer Cristal like me, you’ll need a bit more budget at around $450.

If you are having lots of people over, I would suggest that ‘bigger is better’!  Instead of a vintage, go for a magnum of a NV champagne.  Magnums are known to be the better size for producing quality champagne and we are now getting more and more brands selling champagne in magnums in Australia.  They look impressive and will be a hit at your party.

What would you pair with this champagne?

A vintage champagne can work well as food pairing with richer meals.  The longer ageing, means more complexity in the glass. In saying that, I sometimes prefer to serve it on its own, or with small tastes, so that you can really appreciate the richness of the wine. Things like, truffles, mushrooms, chestnuts, can work with a richer wine. It does depend on the wine and the blend, sometimes they are still very bright and fresh. Depending on the vintage, the Dom Perignon sometimes displays a salty brininess that will work well with fresh oysters. Check the tasting notes with the bottle to help you decide. 

Of course there are many lovely Aussie sparklings and other old and new world sparklings to enjoy at Christmas. We’d like to give a big shout out to our giveaway partners in 2022, some bubbly favourites and some new sparkling discoveries.  You can see the links to their websites below:

Lost Farm Tasmaniahttps://lostfarmwines.com.au/

They have also provided a discount offer exclusively for The Bubbles Review Subscribers. If you would like to make a purchase you can use the promo code: BUBFEST23 to get 15% off all orders over $150. (Excludes shipping fees)

Wicks Estate

Mordrelle Wines

Champagne Philippe Fourrier from Unwined Liquor

Mezza, Rotari and Champagne Jacquart from Single Vineyard Sellers

Golding Wines

Levrier by Jo Irvine

RIEDEL – The Wine Glass Company

Cheers to a bubbly holiday season!

You may also like these other blogs:

Christmas in champagne

Why is champagne so expensive

Tips for drinking champagne on a budget

Why that is not a champagne you’re drinking

How to choose the right glassware for your bubbles

Like to keep following us, get first look at events, receive bubbly information and be in our giveaway draws and have a chance to win a bubbly prize? You can join our list, it’s FREE to join here.

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.

Sparkling Women of Australia

To celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we are so excited to share this series of interviews with the Sparkling Women of Australia!


I have had a love of bubbles for all my adult life. For my 18th birthday I had a champagne luncheon, and not long after that I did the tour of the historic ‘drives’ in the Great Western region in Victoria – arguably the birthplace of Australian sparkling wine. Since then, my love of bubbles and travel has taken me to many sparkling wine regions including Champagne (several times!), and I have had the joy of meeting and interviewing many champagne and sparkling winemakers. I love everything about drinking it, as well as the stories, the romance, the glamour of bubbles, and I particularly love meeting the people.


Around six years ago, I had the idea to turn my love of champagne and sparkling wine into a business and I created The Bubbles Review, which allows me the great joy of sharing stories through our blog and incorporating my 30 years of travel industry experience to run events and tours. Creating a business that means you get paid to drink champagne is awesome, and we have been listed in the top champagne blogs in different countries around the world, which is also pretty amazing!


I think that champagne and sparkling wine is one of the joys of life and something to be shared, and it has been an honour to interview these remarkable women working in the Sparkling Wine industry in Australia and share their stories with you.

Natalie Fryar

Natalie Fryar, Proprietor/Winemaker, Bellebonne Wine Company

BELLEBONNE

Our Sparklings: Bellebonne Vintage Rose, Bellebonne Vintage Cuvee, Bellebonne Vintage Blanc de Blancs, Bellebonne ‘bis’ NV Rose

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

I have been fortunate enough to have been making sparkling wines in Australia since 1996. It was when I took a role at Seppelts Great Western winery with the specific goal of learning everything I could about sparkling wine growing and making and I simply fell in love with all things sparkling.

From then I made sparkling wines from most regions across the nation including Tasmania, whose fruit completely seduced me and now I have my own sparkling wine company in Tasmania, Bellebonne.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

I did my high school work experience at Hardys Reynella winery, way way back when I was in year 10, and never looked back, I love the wine industry and have enjoyed every year since. It is a wonderful way to connect with the world, from growers to sommeliers, wine lovers and everyone in between.

For me wine can capture a moment in time and speak directly of a place, and each time you taste that wine it can transport you to then and there. Nothing more so than sparkling wine, its beauty, elegance and longevity, and it natural connection to the celebrations we most treasure in our lives means that it is always my most loved wine style.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

Whilst I can’t remember the first time I sipped bubbles, I distinctly recall the moment that my life changed forever, and I made the decision to dedicate myself to making great sparkling wine. It was in the mid 90’s at Great Western and I had the pleasure of tasting a decades old sparkling from the beautiful underground cellars, or ‘Drives’ with some winemakers of infinitely more knowledge and experience than me. Being able to taste a wine that maintained its freshness, beauty, and sense of place after so so long in bottle and to see its greatness through the eyes of such skilled winemakers sent a jolt through me and that was that!

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

It is different for women in the wine industry, as it is for women in almost every industry, especially those that are traditionally male dominated. Across our society I believe, and hope, that change is happening. I have great faith in the new generations of women and men coming through, they give me hope that old ways of people from all minorities and marginalized groups being excluded and worse from our industry are disappearing. There is much more work to be done, but the rewards are so great. We have a wonderful industry, and most importantly beautiful wines, and to share that equally with ALL people who want be part of the creation and support of that is a beautiful thing.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

I’m inspired by so many people, those that first saw Tasmania as an incredible sparkling wine opportunity who are still making it on their own terms today (Andrew Pirie ), those that have held the torch high around the globe for the great Sparkling wines of Australia (Ed Carr, Tyson Stelzer),  those that dedicate their entire lives to crafting the most beautiful wines imaginable, wonderful friends and winemakers across Champagne. But importantly I’m also inspired by the next generation of winemakers and communicators that see the greatness of what we have here and want to make their own mark on the landscape of sparkling wine.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

All great wine, sparkling wines included of course, is the same in this way; it is a reflection of the winemakers passion and belief about the place, history and climate of their particular patch.

The greatest sparkling wines from around the world have this in common and are therefore entirely individual.

My excitement about an incredible champagne is matched by my excitement about an incredible Tasmanian (or other) wine. The Champenoise do have the advantage of hundreds of years of winemaking practice, honing skills and understanding the unique characters of their vineyards, and the sheer scale of their industry, but I believe that the wines made here truly great also.

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

For me it is all about trying to capture the pristine fruit power and elegance of Tasmanian fruit. In turn hoping to capture something magical about this place. I try to frame my wines around the fruit first, and then build the longevity and complexity around that. 

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Inspiring, Challenging, Delicious!

Emily Swift

Emily Swift, Owner and Marketing Manager, Printhie Wines (producers of Swift Sparkling)

Printhie Wines

Our sparklings: Swift Sparkling – Cuvée, Rosé, 2014 Vintage, 2017 Blanc de Noirs, 2011 Blanc de Blancs

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

As a family owned business we tend to do everything across the business but officially I do look after the marketing for Printhie Wines and our traditional method Swift Sparkling range.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

I haven’t always been involved in the wine industry, but have always had a deep connection with the land and agriculture which is, I believe, fundamental to understanding wine. I grew up on a cropping and stock property 60kms north west of Dubbo in New South Wales. From there I studied communications and after several years overseas I came back to focus on my corporate marketing career in the utilities and agriculture industries. My first appreciation for wine came from an unlikely source. Whilst working on private yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean I was fortunate to learn about the great wine houses of France. Serving Cristal, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Yquem to name a few. These wines were often served during the one dinner. My interest was piqued and I began to learn about wine. It was by pure chance that I ended up marrying Ed Swift, whose family had just started Printhie Wines and I moved to Orange, NSW. Whilst being involved in the family wine business for the last 17 years it has only been in the last three years that I have joined the family business full time. After several trips to Champagne the business decided to commit to making traditional method sparkling. We knew this was a labour of love – why else would you make a sparkling wine and then put it away for 10 years before seeing a return! We started Swift Sparkling in 2010 and we now have 5 sparkling wines in our portfolio. Twelve years down the track and our Swift Cuvée was awarded Best Australian NV Cuvée at the Champagne and Sparkling World Wine Championships in London at the end of 2021 and Swift has been awarded Best Sparkling in NSW for the last four years.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

It would have to be when I first experienced Cristal. I was at St Barts in the Caribbean working on a private super yacht which was chartered by Puff Daddy (Sean Combes). The only alcohol he ordered for his 7 day charter was Cristal. When he found out it was my birthday he took me (and a couple of deck hands) to a restaurant on the island for dinner. He grabbed some bottles of Cristal before we left the yacht and continued to spray them out of the window of the taxi all the way to dinner – what a waste! I was completely hooked from there and the rest, as they say, is history.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Having worked in male dominated industries for my whole working life I’m used to dealing with predetermined opinions of what your role and capabilities must be, purely based on your gender. Even when I was a senior manager in my last role I would often get asked by men to do some photocopying for them simply because I was the only female in sight. The wine industry has a long way to go like many others but I do feel there is a better awareness and heightened appreciation of the skills females in the wine industry can and do contribute. There are also some great mentoring programs in the industry that can provide career support for women so I think we should be positive about the career prospects for women in this industry.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you?

Can you share a bit about how or why? We admire Pierre Peters, based in Mesnil sur Oger (Champagne region), France. They are a family-owned champagne house that has continued to adapt and modernise their brand. We often chat to them about sparklings so it’s great to have a connection with a forward thinking Champagne house like theirs.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Our sparklings are totally on par with champagne and its incredibly frustrating that if you put down a bottle of Australian traditional method sparkling and a champagne, people will automatically grab the champagne. We need to educate Australians that we make stunning traditional method sparklings. Whilst relying on age old knowledge of crafting champagne, we have the freedom to produce new age sparklings that challenge the staus quo. Based in the cool climate region of Orange NSW, we have the perfect growing conditions for sparkling wine. The grapes for our sparklings come from the vineyards located 1000 metres above sea level – we call this the snow line. If it snows in Orange it snows down to 1000 metres every time and provide the perfect acidity for sparkling wine bases.

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

Our philosophy is to make wine that shows our connection to the land. Our sparklings are truly representational of cool climate craftsmanship from the fertile slopes of the extinct volcano Mt Canobolas from vineyards around 1000 metres above sea level. Basically we focus on fruit purity and time. It starts with the vineyard being in top condition and then giving the wines time to develop their true characters.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Passionate, fortunate, excited

Dianne Gardiner

Dianne Gardiner, Owner (and chief marketer, taster, and consumer) Rahona Valley and the Australian Cuvée Centre

www.rahonavalley.com.au

www.australiancuveecentre.com.au

Our Sparklings: Rahona Valley Cuvée Blanc, Rahona Valley Sparkling Rosé NV, Rahona Valley 2017 Vintage Rosé, Rahona Valley 2015 Blanc De Noirs – Late disgorged

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

In 2014, my husband and I purchased a small vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula, and from there our love of sparkling grew. The previous owner had made sparkling wine, and so we started to learn more and more about the process and fell in love with it. We were then introduced to Natalie Fryar, Australia’s ‘Queen of Rosé’ who started working with us in 2018, and she elevated our sparkling products immediately and showed us what more we could do. It was only then that we realised how technical sparkling winemaking is, how easy it is for things to go wrong, but also how rewarding it is when you get to taste the magic three years on.

We then had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase some fantastic sparkling wine equipment, and that lead us to establish the Australian Cuvée Centre, which is a dedicated facility on the Mornington Peninsula to assist other winemakers make great sparkling wine. With Natalie and Alisdai Park (our sparkling winemakers), we now have a facility that combines world class expertise with world class equipment to elevate sparkling winemaking.

We have more recently embarked on producing sparkling wines from Tasmania, as well as from the Mornington Peninsula, and this is now part of our journey. Helping educate consumers on the magic in the bottle that is sparkling wine, and helping them appreciate the differences, expertise, time and patience that goes into making a great bottle of sparkling. 

What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

It really is a case of science meets art – and it is truly magical what can happen inside the bottle, given the right amounts of love, care, attention and time. 

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

When we disgorged our first bottle of sparkling, and then later sat down to drink some of it.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

Women are underrepresented in wine industry for sure, but we are slowly seeing that changing. What is great to see at the forefront of our sparkling wine industry are some fabulous Australian women including Natalie Fryar, Louisa Rose, Jennifer Doyle, Kate Laurie and Cate Looney. I think women add something special to sparkling winemaking.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

Working with Natalie Fryar has been amazing. She is awe-inspiring. Not only is she an amazing winemaker, whether you’re a consumer just starting out, or an experienced winemaker, Natalie has a knack of pitching the conversation at exactly right level.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Champagne have done a phenomenal job of marketing Champagne, and the rest of the world has done little. As Australian’s, we love Champagne, but most who drink it fail to appreciate the subtle differences, and fail to understand that other countries, including Australia, make fantastic sparkling wine too. We just can’t call in Champagne. And then there’s Prosecco, which is a different wine altogether, but again, few Australians understand the difference.

I think some of the best traditional method sparkling wine in Australia can absolutely stand up proud alongside Champagne and other international sparklings. Ed Carr has proven that, and the rest of us just need a little more time to get there. 

What is the winemaking philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

Our philosophy is there is no point doing things by half measures. Sparkling winemaking takes dedication and commitment well beyond most other wines. That means we need three things: premium fruit, knowledge and expertise in sparkling winemaking, and quality facilities to maintain the integrity of the product throughout its life.

We need to start with great fruit (grown for sparkling wine), and then it is our job to turn those grapes into the best sparkling wine we can produce and care for it as it develops and matures – maximising the return from the premium quality fruit in every way we can.  Only then have we done our job.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Brave, excited, challenged.

Jane Bromley

Jane Bromley, Winemaker, grapegrower and owner. Honey Moon Vineyard

Honey Moon Vineyard – Adelaide Hills

Our Sparklings: Honey Moon Vineyard Blanc de Blancs 2017 and Honey Moon Vineyard Rosé Brut 2018

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

Honey Moon Vineyard grows grapes and makes wine in the Adelaide Hills, to produce fine sparkling wine via the traditional method (aka Méthode Traditionnelle). We also make table wines and fortified wines. Our presence in the wine sector is tiny, but we are hugely passionate about what we are doing.

I also conduct sparkling wine and champagne classes, mainly for university students as part of their sensory/wine tasting training. This is such an honour, as these students are the future viticulturalists, winemakers, wine biz professionals and wine influencers in Australia and around the world.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

The history, science, alchemy, and art of wine have long held my interest. It has been many years since my first experience of an Adelaide Hills grape harvest (in 2001), and since planting our vineyard in 2004, and I remain fascinated and energised by working in wine.

The old-world wines and vineyards of Europe are a source of inspiration and underpin my many years of work as a wine educator on Champagne.

I have also had the privilege of two interesting and rewarding careers in the university sector –firstly in plant science research and later in enterprise-wide professional roles concerning policy development and implementation, legislative compliance, and enterprise bargaining.

Sparkling wine is particularly fascinating for me as it demands a lot of attention to detail, so it is interesting to make, and it also brings lots of joy to consumers.

I have a long-held interest in the historical, cultural, social and technical aspects of Champagne and was fortunate to be awarded the Vin de Champagne Award in 2002 and the Diploma d’Honneur Corporation des Vignerons de Champagne in 2009.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

I don’t recall my first taste of sparkling wine but a chance glass of a vintage champagne at a special art event astounded me … how can a wine be so fresh, so delicate, so powerful, so light, so detailed, so textural and so elegant!  After that, I kept finding great examples of sparkling wine and was hooked.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

Two women pop up brightly in my thinking – Adelaide Hills winemaker Kate Laurie and SA-based wine writer Katie Spain. 

Kate makes excellent sparkling wine. She is involved in fine detail of every aspect from the grape to the final glass, she is a very knowledgeable and down-to-earth speaker and an inclusive advocate for Adelaide Hills sparkling wine.

For me, the story behind a wine is really important – where it comes from, why, how it plays a part in the social and cultural fabric of people’s lives, etc. Katie Spain has a huge passion for the stories and people behind wine. She tracks them down and writes about them beautifully.

These women inspire me and make me feel extra pleased to be a fellow woman working in wine.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

I think that we are very well served by the quality and variety of sparkling wine available to us in Australia, from our own wineries and also from imported offerings. 

Champagne holds a unique position as the international benchmark for the very best sparkling wine. The champenois grow grapes in a very cool climate, and make their wine using insights and methods honed over many centuries. Champagne thus provides inspiration for those who aspire to make cool-climate, traditional-method, sparkling wines here and abroad. 

Australian traditional-method sparkling winemaking has been evolving over many decades, and these days has carved out its own identity in the premium wine sector.  To quote Ed Carr, ‘Australian sparkling wine began moving in two directions from the mid-80s onwards … There’s the volume stuff that’s made to a price point, and the premium sector, which took off as people started pushing to make cool-climate, traditional-method sparkling wines.

And then there’s the Proseccos, Moscatos, Pet Nats, fresh/appertif sparkling wines fermented in tank, sparkling reds, and so on, that are also available to delight our taste buds and grace our tables.’  

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

Our philosophy is simple: pay attention to what is happening in the vineyard; take what nature gives us each vintage with gratitude; be gentle with the grapes; make the best base wine we can in our mature French oak barriques, to set the wine up for eventual graceful maturation on yeast lees; be creative at the blending stage; disgorge in small batches to maximise time spent on lees, gaining complexity and texture while retaining freshness. Our intention is to make sparkling wines that have interesting flavours and textures, and that are always refreshing to drink.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

I think that it is a privilege.

Vanessa Bagot

With written permission from Smudge Publishing

Vanessa Bagot, Owner, Barringwood, Tasmania

Barringwood

Our Sparklings: Classic Cuvée, Blanc de Blanc, Tasmanian Cuvée, Schonburgersekt

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry?

As the owner, I have oversight across all aspects of the operations of the business and making sure each of our team members are happy and productive in the roles they play. From an execution point of view, my focus is on strategy, marketing sales and finance. I set the direction for our wine styles.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?

I have a psychology degree and a Master of Commerce in marketing, and I spent most of my pre-wine career in Market Research working with business across a wide range of industries from Fast Moving Consumer Goods to niche industrial products and government. We bought Barringwood in 2012 because we thought it would be a nice hobby/distraction … it turned into more of an obsession. I love the fact that sparkling wine is associated with joy. I love the complexity in the process of making it so there can be so much variety from the same starting point.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

It wasn’t the first time, but I have a very strong recollection of buying a particular bottle of Champagne when I was 19 in 1989.  I spent the year waiting tables in Cambridge UK being paid £1.50 an hour, and shortly before I left, I went into a bottle shop and splashed out on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and decadently sipped it in a park on the banks of the Cam! 

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

It feels to me that women in the industry are very visible, very successful and respected … but I could be wrong!

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Tasmanian sparkling is amazing and compares very favorably with regards to quality and value with international sparkling, including Champagne.

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

We get to work with an amazing base product because our vineyard is climatically perfect, and our long, cool growing season allows sugars to accumulate while maintaining natural acidity. Our winemaking philosophy is to do as little as possible and work with the wonderful fruit nature delivers.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Fortunate, challenged and fascinated.

Kate Laurie

Kate Laurie, Owner/Winemaker, Deviation Road

www.deviationroad.com

Name of sparklings produced: Altair Brut Rosé, Loftia Vintage Brut, Southcote Blanc de Noirs, Beltana Blanc de Blancs

We’re so excited to include you in this interview series. Tell us a bit about what your role is in the Sparkling Wine industry? 

Primarily my role is that of a sparkling winemaker for our own small family winery, however I would have to add I am fairly good at tasting them as well! I love to share what I know and often give masterclasses on tasting champagne and sparkling wines. I am always surprised at how interested people are in focusing on the technical side of the wines as much as the flavours in the glass. 

Can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in the wine industry? What is it about Sparkling wine that is particularly exciting?
Having lived and studied in Champagne in my late teens, my winemaking passion has always been to master the art of creating quality sparkling wines with their own regional context. Together with my husband Hamish, those early aspirations have been realised through the wines we produce under our Deviation Road brand. Even after about 20 years making sparkling, I am always so excited when it comes to releasing each wine after its time on lees to see the magic that has happened during the second fermentation and subsequent ageing process. There is always a level of mystery involved that no science or numbers can predict will show up in the end product.

Can you remember when you first sipped ‘bubbles’ or when your passion for sparkling wine started?

I discovered sparkling when I went to live in Champagne. To be completely honest, I didn’t drink much wine when I moved there, and was frantically reading my dad’s copy of Bryce Rankin “How to make good wine” before I started school! 

I do remember being mesmerised as much by the bubbly deliciousness in the glass as the descriptors my host family used to describe the aromas and flavours to look for. I left Australia after a run of 18th birthday parties, where I can safely say the attention paid to the celebratory toast sparkling was lacking compared to this new world I found myself in. My eyes were opened to the creative beauty that could come with a career that fundamentally allowed me to indulge my passion for science – which I loved, but didn’t want to spend every hour in a lab, so discovering wine and viticulture was the perfect occupation for me.

Considering International Women’s Day. Do you think it is different for women working in the wine industry? Can you share some thoughts on this?

When I started out as a winemaker it was very much a male dominated industry. I was lucky to have supportive male role models who believed there were no barriers – physical or emotional – to me fulfilling my dreams. At Deviation Road we try to empower our entire team that they can do it all. Hard work, a good attitude (and sense of humour) go far. It is my nature to be very hands on with all facets of the business – from driving the forklift and digging out fermenters to meeting with the creative team, so they have no choice really but to follow my example!

I am aware, however, that my situation is quite unique, and that for many women in the industry they have had to overcome more hurdles than I have. You still hear about women that have left good jobs after finding out that a male doing the equivalent was being paid more. That is inexcusable.

Is there someone in the sparkling wine industry who inspires you? Can you share a bit about how or why?

I am massively impressed by Jane Bromley and Hylton McLean from Honey Moon Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills.  They are passionate about their craft as well as have an incredible knowledge of champagne and sparkling styles. They are also extremely humble and dedicated to making a very small amount of exceptional sparkling wine … all by hand and disgorged to order.

How do you think that Aussie Sparklings compare to international sparklings including champagne?

Without a doubt there are world class Australian sparklings coming from pockets all around the country. The highest quality examples I’ve tasted haven’t necessarily come from the traditionally ‘famous’ regions, but from people of incredible grape growing and winemaking talent. It takes serious commitment in every step of the process to have all the aspects align in a harmonious bottle of sparkling. Traditional Method is labour intensive, takes patience and is expensive to make.  Georgia from Georgia Dale Wines in Victoria is so gutsy and passionate about perfecting sparkling and her first release Blanc de Blancs was very exciting. You get a sense of her strength and dedication in the wine, mirrored in the power of the aroma and structure on the palate. Heading up to Orange in NSW, Printhie wines, are creating excellent age-worthy sparklings under their Swift Sparkling label. Then, of course, in Tasmania you have Arras that leads the way in complex aged sparkling under the meticulous eye of Ed Carr and his team. Delamere also in Tassie is one that also impresses repeatedly … to name a few! Back here in the Adelaide Hills, DAOSA is leading the way in oak aged base wine adding layers of complexity. Anyone interested in increasing their knowledge of Australian Sparkling has a fun journey ahead – shop at a small independent retailer, as they will have specific knowledge of the styles and be able to guide you through a whole year or two’s tasting journey!

What is the wine making philosophy that drives the sparkling wine production at your winery?

We value the elements that make the wine, not the hand of the winemaker. The dream is to produce a glass of sparkling that showcases a hint of that season, gives a nod to the region it came from, and a wink to the gods of time who nurture it through the years before it is ready to be released.

If you were to describe how you feel about working with sparkling wine in three words, what would they be?

Thrilling. Crazy. Fortunate.

You may also like these blogs:

Here’s cheers to the fabulous women of Champagne

Adelaide Hills Sparkling Cellar Doors

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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.

Bubbly border hopping – delivering The Bubbles Festival during a pandemic!

My name is Natalie Pickett, and many of you will know me as the Founder of The Bubbles Review and Creator of The Bubbles Festival. Recently, I have had the honour of being interviewed about The Bubbles Review in major publications in the USA (the links to the articles are at the end of this post), and I thought it would be a great idea to share some insight with you about where the idea for The Bubbles Review came from and a behind the scenes look at what it took to deliver the recent sold-out Bubbles Festivals across Australia in the middle of a global pandemic!

As a serial entrepreneur, I have founded multiple businesses, with both 6 and 7 figure success stories. I have had my share of triumphs and so called ‘failures’. After closing my travel company during the GFC, I established a successful consulting, mentoring and speaking business. I like to operate from my core values, one of which is ‘fun’, which we can forget to make a priority in business. I love being able to share this knowledge with others, to help them to take their business, and daily life, from surviving to thriving.

The Bubbles Review is my passion business. The ‘Aha!’ moment was a culmination of two things. The first was that I had always loved champagne and sparkling wine. For my 18th birthday I had a champagne luncheon. I love the stories, the romance, the glamour of it. 

The other ‘Aha!’ moment came to me at a marketing seminar when the presenter mentioned that because he had wine review websites, he claimed his wine purchases as a tax deduction. And at that moment, I knew my review blog would be about sparkling wine. Once I did the business case it was an easy ‘Yes!’, and I could incorporate my travel industry skills to run events and tours. Creating a business that means you get paid to drink champagne is awesome, and we’ve been listed in the top champagne blogs in different countries around the world, which is also pretty amazing!

The keys to success with each of my businesses is that they all come from my passion, my core values, and my desire to contribute and share my knowledge with others. When they become stressful, I remind myself that business and life is supposed to be fun. Our businesses should work for us, not the other way around.

I have purposely kept the pace of growth of this business at a level that doesn’t become overwhelming. This is important, because The Bubbles Review is my bubbly passion project. The number 1 priority is that it should be fun – for me, and everyone who shares the bubbly joy with me.

The idea for what has become our signature event – The Bubbles Festival – came to me in a meditation one morning, and I like to think that it was divinely inspired.  I mentioned it to a friend who owned an art space, and he was very enthusiastic and provided the venue free of charge so that I could deliver the inaugural The Bubbles Festival in April 2017. The first one was about testing to see if it was of interest – both for exhibitors to showcase their champagne and sparkling wine and ticket holders to the event. The inaugural Bubbles Festival (and a follow-up event in October 2017), received very positive feedback, with patrons giving the event 5 stars.

Postponing The Bubbles Festival in 2020 was incredibly disappointing, particularly because it was the first time that I was taking the event nationally. It was also very costly, as by the time restrictions on mass gatherings across the country were imposed, we’d already expended a lot of the advertising budget. I had appointed team members in other states to assist with set up and had paid deposits to venues. Moving the events meant that most of that expenditure was lost, except for the venues who were accommodating in finding solutions and refunding larger deposits. Not all venues managed this well, but most did.

Delivering The Bubbles Festival in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth in 2021 was no mean feat! The invitation for exhibitors was sent in February, which was later than usual, as I tried to forecast restrictions. We had some exhibitors who were still committed since 2020, as well as new wonderful exhibitors who enthusiastically signed up, but by March, restrictions were still fluctuating, so some were wanting to wait and see before committing.

Ticket holders, on the other hand, were ‘champing’ at the bit.  I think that having been under restrictions for so long, people were so happy to be out and about, meeting likeminded people and drinking bubbly. Almost every session was sold out, and in some locations, the whole event was sold out in a matter of weeks, and people were writing to me begging for tickets, and offering to pay more to attend.

I designed the event just like I would if I was arranging for people to come to my home. That’s why everything is included – a lovely glass, canapés, and a welcoming introduction on sparkling wine from me. Once people are at the event, they don’t need to keep paying for extras like more tastings or food – they just relax, mingle and enjoy the bubbly experience.

Anyone who has planned events before will know there are always challenges, but COVID added a whole new dimension. Capacity restrictions were moved up and down several times, and every state had their own version of conditions around public gatherings.

My experience of 30 years in travel and events gave me the confidence to be able to deliver, and Melbourne kicked off the series and was a great success. After achieving the record for the most locked down city in the world in 2020, people were excited to be out enjoying being social and drinking bubbles. It was so exciting to be hosting this event – a much needed and long overdue celebration!

“We had great fun and loved the available selection of French champagne and sparkling wines. The accompanying canapés were delicious too! Looking forward to attending future Bubbles Festivals.” ~ Leanne Turner

“Fun night out with friends who truly appreciate fine champagne and all things bubbly.” ~ Kate Cadet

“Great way to spend the afternoon!” ~ Rick McLeod

“A lovely way to spend a couple of hours trying and learning about the bubbles, the background to them, food pairing and meeting other like-minded souls.” ~ Janet MacLeish

“I love the evening. The only drawback was that I wish it was longer. In saying that, I would still come again and enjoy it just as much.  Thank you for a great night out!” ~ Betheia Lele

The next day, there were hints that Perth (the location for the event on the next weekend), may go into lockdown – and on Monday, the Western Australian (WA) Premier announced the restrictions. We could probably have proceeded, but everyone would need to be wearing masks, and from a safety point of view, you don’t want to put your patrons at risk and you certainly do not want your event to be listed as an exposure site. The difficult decision was made to move the Perth event forward at least 6 weeks to give time for the case numbers to go down and for restrictions around public gatherings to return to a point where the ticket holders in Perth could enjoy the event at its most celebratory.

As I was dealing with the date changes for Perth, and finalising post event activities for Melbourne, I received a message from a cousin of Michelle (our Sydney-based Event Manager), who was writing to advise me that Michelle had passed away suddenly from a heart attack. We were only 4 weeks out from the Sydney event and Michelle had been assisting us with preparations, including sourcing a new venue (the lovely RACA), student helpers and securing some late exhibitor sign ups. I had known Michelle for many years through our different roles in tourism. She was a consummate professional and beautiful soul. I was devasted for her husband and family, and I cried for days. The only good thing that came out of moving the dates of the Perth event, was that I was free to travel to Sydney to attend Michelle’s funeral later that week.

I had planned to stay overnight after Michelle’s funeral, but there were news reports of COVID infections and exposure sites in different parts of the city, including the area we were currently in for Michelle’s wake. There was an announcement that Sydney would enforce restrictions from 5pm that evening, and I realised that if I stayed, I would run the risk of having to quarantine when going back to Victoria, and therefore not be able to get to Brisbane and Adelaide for the next two events. I quickly changed my flight, said my goodbyes and headed for the airport. I made it safely back to Melbourne before any issues arose about having been in Sydney.

Our Brisbane Bubbles Festival was the next event, and although there were fluctuating concerns since a lockdown about a month prior (which prevented me from visiting for a pre-event site visit), we were safely able to proceed with Brisbane without too many disruptions. The event sold out within 2 weeks of the tickets being released. We had a waitlist and were eventually able to release more tickets to the waitlist as capacity restrictions were eased. Our WA exhibitors couldn’t travel to Queensland, as it was too risky for them to get caught in another state due to WA’s strict COVID border controls. We made arrangements to staff their stands, and the event was a great success with many people coming to thank me for arranging such a wonderful celebration during these incredibly challenging times.

“We really enjoyed our first Bubbles Festival event and would recommend it to our friends!” ~ Peta Shiels

“The Bubbles Festival was a welcome relaxed Evening. Informative as much as social and some wonderfully attired folks who made an effort which pairs with the Classic Architecture and history of the Building.” ~  Anya Slinn            

“A delightful sensation for the nose and palate.  Fabulous selection of Bubbly and Canapés to complement. I am also happy to say the wines I enjoyed most were both from Australian wine makers. Well done Natalie for a great event. See you at the next one 😘🤗🥂” ~ Jane Dewit

“Very well organised & great selection.” ~ Ingrid Ostbye

“A very bubbly evening thank you 🥂” ~ Kerrie Hodgson

“A wonderful way to taste some interesting bubbles from Australia and overseas.” ~ Peter Ryan

“I am so glad I found out about this event. If you get a chance to come and join in the future, do it. Meet new people learn more about bubbles. What more can I say!” ~ Loretta Carmichael

“A fabulous night in an amazing venue. It was a wonderful opportunity to discover some new sparkling wines complemented perfectly by the selection of canapés. Would definitely go again!” ~ Rachel Hodgson

“Fantastic night with great bubbles and canapes – learned a lot! Beautiful venue with views over the river and lights on the bridge added to the atmosphere.” ~ Debbie          

“My first experience and not my last. It was refreshingly educational, enjoyable and a wonderful way to start the weekend. Fantastic!” ~ Chris Hodgson

“A fun & educational event, can’t wait for the next one!” ~ Lesley Harris

Our next stop was Adelaide, and we were blessed with no major breakout. South Australian (SA) border restrictions were pretty risk adverse, so it was a bit touch and go. Victoria had recently recorded a few cases and SA had closed the border to anyone from Victoria who had been in an identified hotspot. Lucky for me, I had not. Arriving at Adelaide airport, I waited in a long queue as border officials checked entry permits on incoming flights from Victoria. The Adelaide event was sold out, and I had people writing to me begging for tickets and offering to pay more. Fortunately, due to the easing of some restrictions, we were able to release a small number of new tickets, which sold out in just two days!

“What a fabulous afternoon filled with quality bubbles – looking forward to the next one and bringing more friends along 🥂🥂🥂 – thanks Natalie 🥂” ~ Julie Johnston

 “A fun way to get together with friends and learn more about the art of Bubbles… with a great range of local produce all in one easy location.” ~  Sharon Gulley-Frith

“A great event showcasing local bubbles with comprehensive tasting notes and friendly producers. Well orchestrated- thank you.” ~ Sarah Vaile

“Great fun day with excellent bubbles!!” ~ Faye Lorain

“Just a great way to spend a few hours, delightful selection of sparkling with knowledgeable wine experts, some tasty nibbles and fun.” ~ Fiona Rich

“Bubbles, bubbles, much more than froth and trouble, even though too many could lead to it!” ~ Anita Zocchi                          

“Had a great time tasting different bubbles with friends!” ~ Amy Blackmore         

“Had a great time and the VIP experience was well worth it.  Would come again.” ~ Cheryl Lees

“The best educational tasting & girls day out I’ve been to in the city!” ~ Ashleigh

“Highly recommend the Bubbles festival. Went with 3 friends and had a ladies’ day out. Full of fun and met new people tasting many wines. Had a great day and can’t wait for the next one. “ ~ Sue Lushington               

“I would thoroughly recommend the bubbles festival to all my friends, I had a very enjoyable experience.”

As we moved through the series of Bubbles Festivals, I kept getting the feeling that everything would be okay. It was like we’d found this level of flow that was allowing us to gently navigate the challenges of the uncertainty of so many factors and conditions.

With Adelaide under our belts, I returned home to Melbourne. By this time, exposure sites were growing, and by Tuesday, one of the sites listed as a concern was the MCG during a crowded football match. SA had closed their border to all of Victoria, so we were lucky to have been able to hold the Adelaide event only days before. I was booked to fly to Sydney for our event that coming weekend, but looking like a lockdown could be imminent, I wondered if I should try to get on an earlier flight. I checked availability and there were seats, but at about 10 times the price I had paid. My flight was around 1.30pm the next day, and I decided it would be okay. It was totally nerve wracking waiting for the press conference as I prepared to leave for the airport. The Victorian Government announced that the state would go into the lockdown at 5pm that day. I checked the NSW response, and by that stage they hadn’t imposed any border restrictions for Victorians, but I wasn’t going to ‘count my chickens’ until I was through the arrivals lounge on the other side. I boarded my flight and hoped for the best. 

When we landed in Sydney, I checked my phone and there was a text from my mother saying “Are you there yet? You need to be in by 4pm!” It was just after 2.30pm, so I was there just in time to avoid the ‘stay at home’ orders that were being imposed on anyone arriving from Victoria. The Sydney event was another success, with two sold out sessions. We received glowing reviews and the event was lots of fun. 

“What a fabulous way to spend two hours, educational and fun. Can’t wait till next time.” ~ Simone Messenger

“All the suppliers were very knowledgeable and accommodating. Tasting notes help you to remember who had which wine. Loved it all!!” ~ Johanne Champness

“What a fabulous event!! So happy get on board with this event!! Do yourself a favour – get out of your comfort zone of sparkling wine & champagne & go to The Bubbles Festival!!! You will be surprised & amazed!!” ~ Corinne Layton

“It was a great event and I highly recommend you catch the next one. The sooner the better!!” ~ Peter Robert Tuckey

“For a night of “Bubbles”, friends and a bit of learning too, this is a fun event to attend. We shall return. Thank you Natalie!” ~ Melinda Baderski

“A fabulous event! Natalie was a wonderful host, taking us through the art of tasting and finding our own ‘happy place’.” ~ Erin Noordeloos

“What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. See you next year.” ~ Janet Green

In the days after my arrival, I realised that returning home to Victoria (which was now in lockdown with an ever-growing list of COVID exposure sites), would risk the upcoming Perth event. The WA government had already closed the border to anyone arriving from Victoria, or who had been in Victoria during the dates of the outbreak, which was eventually changed to been in Victoria within 14 days of arrival.

An array of different logistical options were running around my head! ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’ The Perth event was 4 weeks away, and it was possible that things could clear in Victoria before the event – but it was a risk, and one that I wanted to mitigate. Having already postponed the event from 2020 to 2021, and then having to move it again only a few weeks ago, I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that the event would run. I had some loyal and patient ticket holders who were still holding tickets from our pre-sales in late 2019. I didn’t want to move the event again. Yes, it was possible it could be run without me if I found someone locally to do it, but that wasn’t ideal because my followers were expecting me to be there.

I researched all the different state border options, looking for the best way to get to WA. Counting out days on the calendar, it worked out that I had exactly enough days to spend 14 days in NSW, which at this stage was mainly clear of COVID, to then arrive in WA with 14 days clear in case I needed to quarantine on arrival. If NSW stayed with low or no COVID cases, the plan would work. I cancelled and changed flight bookings. I had only packed for a few days in Sydney, so I shopped for essentials and my daughter kindly sent me some extra clothing from our home.

While I could have stayed in Sydney for the rest of the 14 days, I decided to see if Byron Bay was an option. I could rent an Airbnb room and have a nice time catching up with friends. I checked flights and they were available and cheap. If I was going to need to work remotely, then I would choose some special places to work from. As soon as I arrived in Byron, I knew I had made the right choice – I could feel the stress of the past few weeks just drift away.

I arrived back in Sydney the night before my flight to Perth and stayed at an airport hotel. Having done the amount of work I had done to be able to arrive safely in time for the Perth event, I didn’t want to take any risks of missed connections! Everything was looking fine for me to arrive without needing to quarantine, but I was still apprehensive about what would happen on arrival. After touchdown, we were advised that we would need to wait on board until the WA Police were available to meet the flight. We needed to have our border passes ready to be viewed, and there were signs to inform us to have our hands free so that we could be sanitised before proceeding.

At the head of the queue, there were two people in full PPE gowns, masks, and face shields – one person to take our temperature, and one to spray our hands with sanitizer. Once that was done, we visited a cubicle to respond to a police officer asking questions. I was incredibly relieved to be given the ‘all clear’ – free to enter the state and no quarantine!

I had a pre-event site inspection of the venue booked for that afternoon, and then I was also free to enjoy the rest of my plans, which were to travel to Broome the following day to stay at my Mum’s place. The irony was that she had travelled to Melbourne for her sister’s 80th birthday on the day that I flew into Sydney. She was now stranded in Melbourne, because even as a resident she was unable to return home to Broome without a 14-day quarantine period in Perth. While it was disappointing that I wouldn’t be able to spend some time with my Mum, if I needed to be working remotely, I was going to make the most of it. One of my clients had called my efforts ‘an odyssey’, and I agreed with that very apt description of the adventure I was on!

My dear friend Jane, who had been managing the door at the events, lives in northern NSW, and although NSW had remained a very low risk category, there were new cases starting to be recorded. I had become very good at predicting what would happen with restrictions and border closures, so Jane and I discussed options that would still allow her to make it into WA for the Perth event. I suggested that we book her onto a direct flight from Sydney to Broome the next day, but there were none. I knew that every passing day would mean an increase in cases in NSW and possible closure of the WA border to any arrivals from that state.

The new plan was to have Jane arrive in Perth early. By this stage the travel budget had been well and truly blown, so although it would mean a few extra nights’ accommodation, it would still be better than me trying to find and train extra staff only days before the event. Jane managed to get a booking to travel on the Monday to Perth. The WA border was still open but was changing whilst people were mid-air enroute, with an extra restriction for NSW arrivals – which was get a COVID test on arrival and isolate until getting a negative test result. There was a chance that the border would close or a 14-day quarantine period would be imposed, which would make her arrival obsolete as she wouldn’t be able to work at the event. We enquired about the alternative, which would mean Jane having to return to NSW on the next flight back. She was bringing the banners and some other event supplies and having already changed flights several times, it was now a very expensive airfare. We did joke about how expensive that would make it for just delivering the banners if she was to be turned away. But make it in she did, and the border closed to NSW arrivals the following day.

The Perth Bubbles Festival was another great, sold-out success. We received so many wonderful comments, and some of them were so lovely, that in my state of post-event series exhaustion they brought a tear to my eye. We’d done it! Five sell out events across the country, border hopping like fugitives, and working every angle or option to be able to deliver.

“It was a fun time and definitely recommend 💕” ~ Veronique Shepherd

“This is such a fantastic event; for those who truly love their bubbles and want to experience some that they wouldn’t ordinarily try.  Natalie is so knowledgeable!” ~ Kelly

“Best two hours of fun I’ve had for a long time and it was great to share it with friends and other lovely attendees 😊” ~ Marla Reid

“Thank you Natalie for organising a wonderful event.  It was an absolutely wonderful event and glad we held onto our tickets.  Third time we got there.  The atmosphere was awesome and got to chat to lovely fellow guests and exhibitors and of course the sparkling wines and Champagnes were fantastic.  Thanks again, looking forward to the next event.” ~ Jo-anne Kramer

“Thank you for bringing to WA a unique experience for the bubbly lovers. Having a very knowledgeable and passionate presenter-founder made the experience that extra bit more enjoyable. I look forward to the next one.” ~ Brenda Fenerty

“Fantastic night with many and varied bubbles from which to choose paired with a delicious grazing board! Well done 👍” ~ Allison Pivac     

“A well organised event with some fantastic sparklings showcased.” Louize Kang

“This was my first time at a Bubbles Festival and it was fabulous. I will definitely be back and so will my friends!” ~ Ceri Writer

“My Friend and I have a Fabulous afternoon as VIPs, the tastings were generous the Grazing table spectacular …. We are excited to attend any future events and have a few friends who are very keen to come with us.  An exceptional day which was enjoyable and extremely informative.” ~  Logan Nicholson

“The Bubbles Festival is a well organized fun event that is not only informative but great value for money.” ~ Ina Boxshall

“What a fabulous afternoon to enjoy with friends and to sample some amazing BUBBLES from our regions within Australia cannot wait for the next experience.” ~ Leonie Spencer

“Had a great evening at The Bubbles Festival and would recommend going to The Bubbles Review’s events!” ~ Monicka McDonough

“I thought I couldn’t love bubbles any more but I was wrong!! This experience was second to none! A classy yet relaxed vibe with access to all the best, new, interesting and popular bubbles, some of which were completely new to me. The VIP experience was to die for, a great privilege. Congratulations to Natalie and her team for putting this together in today’s climate. A true testament to her love of bubbles and a phenomenal way to share it with the country! I will definitely be on the lookout for the next event!!” ~ Jana Bartecki

“Thanks to Natalie, Jane and the WA team for such an amazing evening. Covid had delayed me enjoying my 2020 Mother’s Day gift until now. Totally worth the wait and can’t wait to partake in the next event. Thank you again & keep up the great bubbly work!!” ~ Isla Ferrarotto          

“Fabulous afternoon out at a boutique feeling event. Lovely champers and sparkling wines. We really enjoyed it, thank you for persisting in trying to stage it!!”

“A great afternoon with the chance to mingle with likeminded bubbly lovers. A fun afternoon full of great sparkling on offer thank you!” ~ Brooke O’Donnell

We’d planned to have some time in Perth on the Sunday before returning home on Monday. We were relaxing at the Fremantle markets on the Sunday morning when we were told that Perth was going into restrictions by midday that day. Venue capacities would be reduced, and masks were mandatory indoors. We had delivered the Perth event just in time! Perth would then declare a lockdown commencing later that day, and the Victorian Government declared Perth a medium risk zone. Upon my return to Melbourne, I was (perhaps ironically) required to get a COVID test and isolate. It didn’t matter, I was happy to be home. I joke that one of the things that I have collected in 2021 is the QR check in apps for almost all the states of Australia!

I feel very blessed that we were able to hold the national series of Bubbles Festivals. I did have plans for some smaller events and tours in the later part of this year, but it’s September and Melbourne is back in lockdown. Sydney is too. It is unlikely that there will be opportunities for events for the rest of the year, but I remain hopeful that we will get a clear run for 2022. The plan is to take The Bubbles Festival to more locations in Australia, and eventually New Zealand, the USA and UK. I am also optimistic that we may even be able to hold our tour to Champagne in 2022, but perhaps that will be 2023.

Whilst working remotely in Broome, I had seen an opportunity to be a co-author in a book that was being published in the USA – Becoming an Unstoppable Woman! I submitted an application and at my interview, they asked me to tell them a bit about myself. I said ‘Sure. Let me tell you about my latest unstoppable story!’ I shared the story of being able to deliver all of these events during a pandemic, border closures, and snap lockdowns. It was definitely an example of being unstoppable. I was accepted and went on to create my chapter called ‘Living the Dream’, which is all about my career as an entrepreneur and business mentor, on overcoming adversity, with a focus on savouring life’s precious moments. The book was released in September and is now an international best-seller. It has also led to several articles published in the US media on my business success and how I created The Bubbles Review. There’s no stopping a woman on a bubbly mission! Cheers!

Get tickets for The Bubbles Festival 2022 on this special pre-sale here.

You may also like these articles

 Natalie Pickett: From Avocation To Vocation; How I Turned My Hobby Into A Career | by Penny Bauder | Authority Magazine | Sep, 2021 | Medium

Natalie Pickett: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life | by Pirie Jones Grossman | Authority Magazine | Sep, 2021 | Medium

Purchase link for the Becoming an Unstoppable Woman book- Natalie Pickett | She Rises Book Pre-Order (sherisesstudios.com)

Like to keep following us, get first look at events, receive bubbly information and be in our giveaway draws and have a chance to win a bubbly prize? You can join our list, it’s FREE to join here.

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.

Virtual Sparkling Cellar Doors

At The Bubbles Review we love sharing the joy of sparkling wine, through our award winning blog, and our events and tours. 

One of the things that I love about organising The Bubbles Festival is bringing the Cellar Doors, Producers and Distributors to our followers.  I love creating opportunities for people to discover new sparkling wines, meet the wine industry and develop a greater appreciation of what goes into making a quality sparkling wine.

When we were experiencing restrictions to keep us at home, many people started ordering their bubbles online. So, we created an opportunity to bring the Cellar Doors to you.  Just as we do at The Bubbles Festival, but when we went in lockdown, we did this in a virtual way.

It was so successful, we’ve kept the list going. Please see our list of virtual Cellar Doors below.  Order direct to support this great list of wineries and distributors of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. 


Printhie Wines – Orange, NSW

Sparklings:  Swift Sparkling – Swift NV Cuvée; Swift Sparkling Rosé; Swift 2012 Vintage Chardonnay Pinot Noir; Swift 2010 Blanc de Blancs; Swift 2016 Blanc de Noirs

From the highest vineyards in NSW on the slopes of the extinct volcano Mt Canobolas, an elite range of sparkling has been handcrafted by Printhie Wines. Brothers Ed and Dave Swift have made their mark on the Australian sparkling scene with their method traditionnelle Swift Sparkling. Exceptional winemaking, cool climate craftmanship and the luxury of time has created a trophy winning range of sparkling wine. Printhie’s passion for sparkling is demonstrated by the patience required to ensure each bottle of Swift Sparkling has been aged to perfection before release. Spending at least 5 years on lees with some up to 9 years. The range has won 10 trophies and over 60 medals in the last 4 years alone.

Special offer and promo code: Use ‘FREEDELIVERY’ coupon at checkout for free shipping.

See website to order


DAOSA – Adelaide Hills, Australia

Sparklings: 2017 DAOSA BLANC DE BLANCS; DAOSA NATURAL RÉSERVE 4TH RELEASE

The vision for Terre à Terre and DAOSA has been to grow grapes of exceptional quality from carefully selected vineyard sites every year, and then vinify them using the best of French and Australian wine practices. We believe that with rigour and precision, we can produce world class fine wines which will have great aging potential, combining elegance and power. We like to retain our independence from the common wine trends and focus on creating a Great Australian Classic. The DAOSA labels was established in 2008, but the heritage goes further back in time. We both grew up surrounded by passionate winemaking families, Xavier in Champagne, France and Lucy in the Adelaide Hills.

See website to order


Champagne Royal Riviera – Epernay, Champagne, France

Champagne: Champagne Royal Riviera Cuvee Brut Supreme.

A blend of Pinot Noir 50%, Chardonnay 40%, Pinot Meunier 10%.
Parcels are 66% Grand Cru and 33% Premier Cru, from Reims, Cote de Blanc and La Vallée de la Marne. A Brut Champagne, Non-vintage, made from 100% reserve wines. A traditional style Champagne, originating in Epernay, France.

Predominantly Pinot Noir and aging on lees, this wine is very playful on the palate. Mellow tannin swirls enable the elegant mousse to open to its full potential, creating fullness in the cheeks. The second-generation notes are complemented by freshness and soft effervescence achieved by blending Chardonnay from exceptional Grand Cru villages.

See website to order

Wicks Estate Wines – Adelaide Hills

Sparkling wines: Wicks Estate Vintage 2020, and Pamela Vintage Sparkling.

We tend every vine and grow every grape. We then take those precious grapes a short trip to our winery, situated right in the middle of our vineyard. This obsessive care is our family’s guarantee of quality.

See website to order


Bellebonne Wine – Tasmania

Sparkling wines: 2016 Bellebonne Vintage Cuvee and Bellebonne Bis Non-Vintage Rosé

BELLEBONNE [bell-y-bon] *
Beautiful and good, like Tasmania. A belief that good things should be made of beauty and purpose. Driven by the knowledge that Tasmania creates sparkling wines of detail and precision. That shares something honest, elemental and full of wonder about Tasmania. Wine of purity that speaks of the landscape and seasons that have shaped it.

See website to order


Best’s Wines – Great Western and Grampians Wine Region

Sparkling wines: 2016 C.M.T Méthode Traditionnelle and 2017 Sparkling Shiraz

Best’s Wines Great Western is one of Australia’s ‘best kept’ winery secrets.  Founded in 1866, we are a family-owned and operated winery (5th generation) with some of the oldest and rarest vines in the world.  Henry Best’s original Nursery Block, containing more than 40 different varieties and featuring his old Shiraz and Pinot Meunier plantings, are among Australia’s most valuable vineyard resources. The Thomson family are celebrating their 100th year as custodians this of Best’s Wines, purchased from Henry Best’s son in 1920. 

There is something very special about the wines from Great Western.  The pedigree of our historic vineyards allows us to make elegant, finely structured wines with great intensity and balance.  Best’s avoids the heavy-handed use of oak or winery interventions; instead, the winemaking team allows the fruit from Great Western to tell its own story.  Like many classic long-lived wines, their best attributes are revealed over time.

See website to order


Voirin-Jumel Wines – Cramant, Champagne, France

Champagne:  Voirin-Jumel Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs Brut; Blanc de Noirs 1er cru; 2012 Blanc de Blancs; Rose 1er Cru

The domain is located in Cramant, prestigious village Grand Cru of the côte des Blancs. Voirin – Jumel has been a family farm for 5 generations. Taking care of creating Champagnes worthy of the legendary Grand Cru terroirs.  The family vineyard covers 13 hectares, harvested and pressed by us. Our vineyard approach is natural.

“It is not enough to have a Grand Terroir, you have to respect it”

See website to order


Lost Farm – Northern Tasmania

Sparklings: Lost Farm Vintage 2015 Cuvée Sparkling; Lost Farm NV Brut Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Lost Farm Wines is about discovery and potential. Working with the talented growers and the exceptional vineyard sites, aiming to realise the potential in the wines we make from them. Made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from the cold climate of Northern Tasmania our sparkling wines are complex, elegant wines that shows brioche, nougat and yeasty notes on the nose. A fine persistent bead seamlessly carries these flavours across the palate with brilliant texture and a classic refined finish.

Special offer and promo code: enter code FREEFARM on checkout for free shipping

See website to order 


Champagne Jacquart – Reims, France

Champagnes: Jacquart Mosaique Brut, Jacquart Mosaique Extra Brut, Jacquart Mosaique Rose, Jacquart Blanc de Blancs, Jacquart Cuvee Alpha, Jacquart Cuvee Alpha Rose.

Champagne Jacquart was founded in 1964 by Chardonnay growers and today is one of the largest grower-producers in Reims, France meaning they have 100% vineyard ownership & produce all their own Champagne. They are part of the Alliance Champagne Group & one of Champagne’s largest source of grapes. Jacquart’s vineyards are present in 8 of 17 Grand Cru and 20 of 44 Premier Cru regions. They have an increasing focus on sustainable winegrowing with 20% of acreage certified sustainable in 2017 with the goal to grow this in future years to come. The Champagne Jacquart style is unique and contemporary across the range: fresh, elegant and refined.

Special offer and promo code: 15% off with ‘BUBBLES’

View website to order


Mezzacorona & Rotari – Trentino, Italy

Sparklings: Rotari Brut, Rotari Rose, Mezza di Mezzacorona.

Special offer and promo code: 15% off with ‘BUBBLES’

View website to order


Oakdene – Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong, Victoria

Sparklings: NV Oakdene Pinot Noir Chardonnay, 2015 Oakdene Yvette Pinot Noir Chardonnay, 2016 Oakdene Kristen Blanc de Blanc

Oakdene’s range of Sparkling Wines are all made in a dry style, using the traditional varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The range includes a fruit driven style, limited production Vintage wines made using the traditional method with extended aging. 

Special offer and promo code: 10% discount and free shipping Australia wide on purchase of 6 bottles or more (applies automatically at checkout)

See website to order


Levrier by Jo Irvine – Located in Barossa, making wine from Eden Valley, Barossa and Adelaide Hills

Sparkling: Levrier by Jo Irvine Adelaide Hills Sparkling Meslier Brut Rosé

“I make small batch wine styles that I like to drink. My wines are all soft, juicy and vegan friendly. I support the Greyhound Adoption Program which is why all my labels have greyhounds on them, and I named my brand Levrier, which means ‘greyhound’.”

Special offer and promo code: All wine lovers can order at club rates and $10 from every order is going to Meal on Wheels SA until end of April.

See website to order


Trentham Estate – Trentham Cliffs, NSW

Sparklings: Prosecco NV and Tasmania Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV

Our Cellar Door is located at an impressive riverside destination where we share a tradition of quality food, wine and customer service. Trentham is very proud of, and humbled by, the many awards and accolades it has collected over the past 30 years – including hundreds of wine show medals, an impressive array of wine trophies, and business awards. We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to our stunning location on the banks of the Murray in the future.

See website to order


Clover Hill – Pipers River, North East Tasmania

Sparklings: Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvee NV, Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvee Rose NV, Clover Hill Vintage Brut 2013, Clover Hill Cuvee Exceptionnelle Blanc de Blancs 2013, Clover Hill Cuvee Exceptionnelle Vintage Rose 2015 & Clover Hill ‘Late Disgorged’ Cuvee Prestige Blanc de Blancs 2006

Clover Hill is one of Australia’s very few premium sparkling houses solely producing sparkling wines in the traditional method. With the intention to produce a refined sparkling wine to rival that of great Champagne houses, Clover Hill was established in 1986 on the site of an old dairy farm in north eastern Tasmania. These first plantings produced Clover Hill’s debut vintage in 1991. Since this time, Clover Hill has become synonymous with elegance and refinement, gaining a reputation of uncompromising quality. Clover Hill’s commitment to excellence has been recognised with numerous awards which include being inducted into the Australian Sparkling Hall of Honour in 2017 and being twice awarded Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year.

See website to order


Taltarni Estate – The Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia

Sparklings: Taltarni 2016 Blanc de Blancs, Taltarni 2013 Cuvee Rose, Taltarni 2015 Brut, Taltarni 2017 Sparkling Shiraz & Taltarni T Series Brut

Taltarni Vineyard and Winery was founded on the principles of individuality, independence and expression, which still guide us today. Combining old-world traditions with innovative new-world techniques, Taltarni produces a diverse range of méthode-traditionnelle crafted sparklings. Taltarni’s portfolio continues to be a reflective expression of the varietal and terroir from which our wines are born.

Special offer and promo code: see our wine specials page on our website

See website to order


Oakridge Estate – Yarra Valley, Victoria
Sparklings:
2014 Blanc de Blanc & 2017 Sparkling Meunier

Oakridge is a family-owned, Yarra Valley winery, restaurant and cellar door. Originally established in 1978, alongside a ridge of oak trees. Our many awards are due to the level of distinction and excellence our team strives for in every bottle; reflecting meticulous care from soil to grape and barrel to bottle.  

Special offer and promo code: BUBBLESREV10 for 10% off our online store

See website to order


Rob Dolan Wines – Yarra Valley, Victoria

Sparkling: 2018 Black Label Blanc de Blanc

Our Blanc de Blanc is the perfect way to start off as it is aperitif in style so gets you salivating and ready to taste. It is called blanc de blanc as it is a white wine crafted from a white grape, specifically, Chardonnay that we get from the Yea Valley. The Yea Valley is a relatively cold area, so perfect for sparkling bases as it keeps the acid high, forming zesty and fresh sparkling wines. This one is very easy drinking, perhaps slightly dangerous, that’s what we love about it!

Special offer and promo code: Free shipping Australia wide for a limited time. Enter code: SUPPORTSMALL at checkout.

See website to order


Fratelli Wines –  Yarra Valley, Victoria

Sparkling: NV Better Half Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Andrew and Megan Santarossa’s vineyard is located in the very cool site of the Yarra Junction in the Yarra Valley. They specialise in sparkling and table wines, having learnt their trade from working at Mitchelton and Chandon. A classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay provides a clean fresh style with complexity on the back palate.

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


See Saw Wines – Orange, NSW

Sparkling: 2019 See Saw Prosecco

For over 25 years Justin & Pip Jarret have been making cool climate wines from their three, high altitude, certified organic vineyards. This vintage Prosecco is clean and very well balanced with a silky creamy texture.

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


Smallfry Wines – Barossa Valley, SA

Sparkling: 2019 Smallfry Pet-Nat Rose

Wayne & Suzi like to push the boundaries with experimental blends and obscure varietals from their old vine vineyard in Vine Vale Barossa Valley. Natural ferments, no additions, no fining or filtration. This savoury Pet-Nat is produced from a variety so rare that the winery still doesn’t know what it is, so they call it Vine X!

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint wines website for sales


House of Cards – Margaret River, WA

Sparkling: ‘Queen of Diamonds’ Blanc de blancs

A small family-run Cellar Door in Margaret River. Established in 2011 by Travis and Elizabeth Wray. Producing 100% Organic, Single Vineyard wines.

See website to order


Federica Rigoni Stern – Veneto, Italy

Sparkling: NV Rigoni ‘Il Giusto’ Extra Dry Prosecco DOC

Federica inherited the winery from her grandfather Gus, who founded the winery in 1963. A small 12 hectare vineyard entirely planted with Glera for premium Prosecco production. This Prosecco is a dry version with a very refreshing green apple character.

Special offer: Wines are 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


Apollonis Champagne – Marne Valley, Champagne

Champagnes: NV Apollonis Authentic Meunier, NV Apollonis Theodorine Rose, NV Apollonis Palmyre Brut Nature

16th Generation Grower from the town of Festigny in the Marne Valley. A small family Estate who specialise in the production of Pinot Meunier.

Special offer: 30% off RRP

See Footprint Wines website to order


Cloak and Dagger –  Central and the King and Alpine Valleys in North-East Victoria

Sparkling: Cloak and Dagger – Prosecco

Vibrant aromatics punctuated by crisp apples and pears, zingy citrus and top notes of orange blossom. Delicate flavours of lemons and pears zip across the palate. Crisp and dry, this sparkling is bright and satisfying with a long refreshing finish. It’s perfect on its own or amazing in a spritz!

See website to order


Degen Wines –  Pokolbin, Hunter Valley

Sparkling: Degen 2018 Sparkling Semillon Chardonnay 2018

We are one of the smallest commercial single vineyards in the Hunter Valley. Some 20 years ago we planted three of the great noble grape varieties that have been grown in the Hunter: Shiraz, Chardonnay and Semillon.  Our small Cellar Door has provided an avenue for us to meet wine lovers from far and near that visit us for tastings of our premium wines we produce, made by award winning winemakers.

Special offer and promo code: Free delivery and 20% discount. Use code: DEG365 at checkout.

See website to order


Printhie Wines – Orange, NSW

Sparklings:  Swift Sparkling – Swift NV Cuvée; Swift Sparkling Rosé; Swift 2012 Vintage Chardonnay Pinot Noir; Swift 2010 Blanc de Blancs; Swift 2016 Blanc de Noirs (to be released 2020)

From the highest vineyards in NSW on the slopes of the extinct volcano Mt Canobolas, an elite range of sparkling has been handcrafted by Printhie Wines. Brothers Ed and Dave Swift have made their mark on the Australian sparkling scene with their method traditionnelle Swift Sparkling. Exceptional winemaking, cool climate craftmanship and the luxury of time has created a trophy winning range of sparkling wine. Printhie’s passion for sparkling is demonstrated by the patience required to ensure each bottle of Swift Sparkling has been aged to perfection before release. Spending at least 5 years on lees with some up to 9 years. The range has won 10 trophies and over 60 medals in the last 4 years alone.

Special offer and promo code: Use ‘FREEDELIVERY’ coupon at checkout for free shipping.

See website to order


Tamburlaine Organic Wines – Hunter Valley, Orange and Central Ranges

Sparkling: On The Grapevine Preservative Free Sparkling ‘Au Naturel’

Tamburlaine was established in 1966. In 1985 the Hunter winery was purchased by a small group of friends and relatives led by Managing Director and Chief Winemaker, Mark Davidson. Mark has built his long-term winemaking philosophy around Contemporary Organic practices in the vineyard and the winery. After challenging years of research and development, we have become one of Australia’s largest producers of organic wines with vineyards in the Hunter Valley and Orange region.

Special offer: $16/bottle when you select 12 wines from this range. Buy two dozen or more to access $14/bottle. Limited time only.

See website to order


De Beaurepaire Wines – Central Ranges Region – Rylstone, NSW

Sparklings: 2016 ‘Marie Louise’ Prestige Cuvée; 2018 ‘Blanchefleur’ Blanc De Blancs;  2019 ‘Annabelle’ Crément De Rose

Founded in 1998 by Richard and Janet de Beaurepaire and now joined by their children Amanda & Will, De Beaurepaire Wines is a terroir focused wine producer from Rylstone, within the Central Ranges (near Mudgee and Orange) of NSW. The family originates from Burgundy, so Richard and Janet chose to pioneer wine production in Rylstone due to its similarity to the terroir of the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy.  Their wines can only be found at their cellar door or in great bars, restaurants and hotels. In 2018 they were awarded by Winestate Magazine, ‘Best Australian Wine’ – a first for a NSW producer since the award inception 40 years ago; and Best Australian and New Zealand Dessert Wine.

Special offer and promo code: 

  • 25% off 12+ bottles & free shipping (code: ATHOME12)
  • 10% off 6 bottles & free shipping (code ATHOME6)

See website to order


Stomp Wines – Hunter Valley

Sparklings: Stomp Sparkling Verdelho; Stomp Sparkling Moscato; Limited Release Stomp 2017 Sparkling Chambourcin 

Stomp! Wines is a family business based in the beautiful Hunter Valley wine region. Husband and wife owned and operated, we stomp to the sound of our own drum. Our two stunning contemporary brands, Stomp! and Pssst ‘n’ Broke, say it all – relaxed, casual, maybe a little irreverent, but always authentic! We remain true to ourselves and our craft as we have fun creating all our wines to capture the true essence of ourselves and our stomping ground.

Special offer and promo code: Buy any 5 or more sparkling and we’ll add a free bottle (of our choice) with free delivery. Use coupon code – Bubbles

See website to order


Hollydene Estate Wines – Upper Hunter Valley

Sparkling: Juul Blanc de Blanc 2008

Located in the picturesque Upper Hunter region, Hollydene Estate is a beautiful destination location, with a stunning Cellar Door and award winning restaurant. 

With two of The Upper Hunter’s oldest and most iconic vineyards. The Juul Blanc de Blanc sparkling is a multi award winner, for Best Mature Sparkling two years running and Best Extended Yeast Age at The Australian Sparkling Wine Show.

Be sure to put Hollydene Estate on your ‘must see’ list when visiting the Hunter Region.

Special offer and promo code: 15% off – 15OFF2020 can be used multiple times. Valid until 30 Sep 2020 (not valid with already discounted sale items) or join wine club for 20% off and free shipping.

See website to order


Borambola Wines – Gundagai, New South Wales

Sparklings: Borambola Wines, VIII Sparkling Brut

Borambola Wines is a family owned business, specialising in 100% locally grown and produced beer and wine including, red, white, sparkling, Tuckerbox Hoppy Lager beer and apple cider. Borambola Wines philosophy is simple – we strive to grow the best grapes and to make the best wines. We do this by combining traditional ‘old world’ wine making methods with the upcoming technology advancements of the ‘new wine world’, as well as using organic and environmental best practice. We welcome visitors to our Cellar Door for tastings, as well as catering for weddings, ceremonies, corporate functions and special events.

Special offer: Buy 6 and receive a free gift

See website to order


Note: The Bubbles Review is not involved in selling wine. This page is for information only. All sales and deliveries are made with the wineries or distributors directly. Subject to their own licencing arrangements. You must be of legal drinking age to purchase. The Bubbles Review promotes responsible serving of alcohol. If you have any questions about purchasing, please contact the wineries directly.

How to choose the right glassware for your bubbles?

Champagne and sparkling wine is synonymous with celebration, and what better time to be celebrating than with friends and family over Christmas?

Champagne is often served as an aperitif or for a toast. As you may have read here before, it can definitely be served throughout all courses. Perfect for an Aussie Christmas, champagne pairs especially well with seafood, and choose a traditional blend including red fruit, or a Blanc de Noirs, or Rosé with the more robust main course flavours of ham and turkey. Those of you who love a sparkling red may choose to include this in your line-up.

Now that we have the wine sorted, which glass should we use to serve? 

There is the champagne coupe or saucer glass. Legend has it the shape of the coupe was modelled on the left breast of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France, but it seems that the glass was designed in England over a century earlier especially for sparkling wine and champagne in 1663. The coupe was fashionable in France from its introduction in the 1700s until the 1970s, and in the US, and Australia from the 1930s to the 1980s. The coupe had a revisit a few years ago, with a bit of Art Deco, Great Gatsby-inspired frivolity. Perfect to build a champagne tower, they are lots of fun, but not very practical. Apart from making it easy to spill, the glass is very wide creating a large surface area for the wine, with an open rim, which means that the bubbles dissipate very quickly.

Then there is the champagne flute. The skinny flute, designed to accentuate the view of the bubbles as they rise up in the glass, has definitely dominated the glassware served for the past 30 years or so. These glasses make it lot easier to serve, you can fit many more on a tray than the coupe, and you are less likely to spill your drink. But, you may be surprised to discover, this is not the best glass to be using.

If you visit the Champagne region, you will find that many restaurants will serve champagne in a white wine glass. This may seem strange at first, but a good exercise to try at home is; pour half of your glass of bubbles into a skinny flute, and half into a white wine glass. Taste a few sips from the skinny flute, then try it from the wine glass. Take time to explore the aromas and taste. Most likely, it will taste like a different wine. This is because to truly appreciate a good wine, you need to take in all of the senses: the look, the aroma, the feel and taste.

The skinny flute presents champagne as one-dimensional, because you can’t get your nose into the glass to get the full wine experience. It also concentrates the bubbles and in trying to get the aromas you’ll often get a nose full of fizz and acidity instead.

This presented a challenge, as part of the fun of having bubbles is the special glass. Onto the scene comes a wider tulip or egg-shaped flute; a sort of hybrid of flute and standard white wine glass with a wider middle that tapers at the top. This allows for a wine lover’s ability to appreciate the full range of aromas. This is still a beautiful stylish glass, but let’s you take in the full appreciation of the wine.

I’ve read that the tulip style has origins from the Sommelier at Les Crayères restaurant in Reims, who didn’t like serving top champagnes in a flute. He is said to have worked with glass makers Lehmann glass to develop an elongated glass, rounded in the middle and tapering towards the top wider flute.

This as a superior shape has been confirmed by science, with Gérard Liger-Belair, a physicist at the University of Reims, stating that ‘the spherical shape of the glass, which also encourages vertical movement, respects the role of the mousse’. 

The RIEDEL brand known for innovation and design, and an industry leader in the introduction of grape-varietal-specific stemware in the 1980s, has also collaborated with some of the top champagne houses to create bespoke glasses tailored to their specific wines.

Each bubble carries aroma to the surface. The RIEDEL glasses are designed to provide a ‘progressive extension along the curve of the glass which favours first a gradual then a stretched ascent, allowing each bubble to burst at the widest point to free its flavours and express aromatic subtlety’.

A champagne glass should be clear, not coloured or engraved with fancy design, so we can assess the wine’s clarity, colour and bubbles.

I’ve also noticed a recent trend of stemless glassware. Whilst this might be a nice casual style for other wines, it is a no for bubbles. We hold the glass by the stem, so that the heat from our hands doesn’t warm the wine, and greasy fingerprints don’t obscure the wine’s colour. Perhaps I need therapy, but I must admit I have to look away when I see friends holding their glass by the bowl and not the stem, as I can’t bear to watch. Note to my family coming over for Christmas!

When I present tips on how to taste bubbles at our events, I always remind people to hold their glass by the stem, and also that there is no need to swirl the glass (to get air and aroma). When tasting bubbles, the bubbles will bring out the aromas out for you.

Some wine writers are asking ‘Should champagne flutes be outlawed?’ I think this might be a bit extreme, but I do agree, my preference for good quality bubbles is to serve them in a wider flute or white wine glass.

Most important though, is the joy of sharing bubbles with friends and family. Find the best glass you can, raise it and say 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.

You may also like these blogs:

We are very excited to have RIEDEL glassware as our giveaway partner this December, and our glassware provider for The Bubbles Festival. 

Our subscriber giveaway which is the Extreme Rosé / Champagne glass twin pack (RRP$59.95) will be drawn on 13 December 2019.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is RIEDEL-Extreme-glass-giveway-FB.jpg

The Extreme Rosé/Champagne Glass is perfect for developing and displaying champagne’s complex characteristics. This glass allows the wide range of aromatics to unfold thanks to its egg-shaped design, with the larger rim diameter enabling them to be released in a way which is not achieved with a narrow glass.

Like to keep following us, get first look at events, receive bubbly information and be in our giveaway draws and have a chance to win a bubbly prize? You can join our list, it’s FREE to join here.

Why is champagne so expensive?

Or is it? It definitely feels luxurious as you are sipping it.

Let’s compare, a 2015 bottle of Grange is currently selling for around $900. It is not ready to drink yet, Penfolds suggest the recommended cellaring is 2022 – 2050.

For champagne, a bottle of 2008 (a very good year in Champagne) Dom Perignon is currently around $250, Cristal 2009 (also a good year) $390, Moët et Chandon 2009 is on sale for $90. To buy the equivalents from Burgundy or Bordeaux you would need to pay about 20 times this. For an Australian comparison, the 2008 Arras Grand Vintage, this highly awarded Tasmanian sparkling has won multiple awards including Gold at the Champagne and Sparkling World Championships, has a recommended retail price of $84. It has been aged for more than 7 years before release and it is ready to drink now.

In champagne and sparkling descriptions, you’ll see, aged on lees for a certain amount of years or how many years of tirage.  This is describing how many years the wine has been in the second fermentation stage (which also creates the bubbles), stored in bottles in the winemaker’s cellar. 

In Champagne a Non-Vintage must be aged for a minimum of 15 months and a Vintage must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, although many houses will age their wines much longer than this at around 3 years for NV and 5-10 years for a Vintage champagne.

That is a huge amount of capital sitting in the cellar, waiting for a return on investment.  Forget bank vaults of gold, the underground cellars of Epernay and Reims are holding millions of dollars of liquid gold. Champagne currently has around 1.5 billion bottles stockpiled, which will remain in waiting for an average of more than 4.5 years. It is an investment in quality and delivery of a ready to drink product. Aside from fortified wines, champagne is the only prestige wine that is sold already matured to its prime, so there is no need to cellar it (although you might decide to with a good vintage), it is ready to drink straight away.

Champagne production is labour intensive. According to the rules governing production, all grapes must be picked by hand and there is a limit on the amount of yield per harvest. This contributes to Champagne being the highest grape price in the world, with prices increasing around 60% over the last 15 years. By comparison the price of champagne has risen less than 15% in a decade, and with greater choice and volume coming to the Australian market there are some absolute bargains to be found.

To create champagne the production process is complex, and more time-consuming than any other in the wine world. A sparkling wine made in the traditional method is similar, yes there are cheaper methods for creating bubbles, either second fermentation in tanks, or by just adding Co2 to make bubbles in a very cheap wine.  But, if we are comparing apples with apples, or should I say grapes with grapes, compared to other wine styles, champagne and traditional method (methode traditionelle) sparklings are the best value wines around.

When you add in the skills and passion of the wine making team, I like to think about drinking champagne as similar to admiring a wonderful piece of art. 

Surely it is the closest thing on earth to liquid gold, at a fraction of the price! Remember this next time you are sipping bubbles.

Cheers!

Like to join us in Champagne to tour the cellars in Epernay and Reims? See our Events and Tours page.

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.

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