Wine guru Andrew Corrigan discusses Australia’s adoration for champagne, and finds the best buys in the market.

What is so good about Champagne?

How do Aussie examples and wines like the trendy Prosecco compare?

Why the high price? And why even higher for prestige Champagne?

More than any other wine, Champagne is associated with prestige. The famous names are $60 – $80 for a “standard” Champagne and higher prices for single vintage wines, reaching up to $230 and beyond for prestige wines such as Dom Perignon, the prestige wine of wellknown producer, or “House” as the Champagne industry prefers, Moet & Chandon (by the way, the “t” in Moet IS pronounced, as in “mowwet”). A House produces a distinctive style.

Sparkling wines and Champagne are very misunderstood. Lower priced wines tend to be thin and tart to taste – like alcoholic soda water. There are also many fruity examples available in the moscato style. Moscato does have an important place – as a clean, slightly sweet palate freshener after a meal in warmer weather for example. However, there are quite a few thintasting sickly sweet examples around. Prosecco from north east Italy is fresh, dryish and best enjoyed as a young, straightforward wine. It can be a bit tart and sour.

Remember that Champagne is a district in France with defined boundaries and that there are other sparkling wines from France that are not Champagne – generally known as cremant wines. Some are good, some are uninteresting. They are generally cheaper than  Champagne because their cost of production is much lower. Marquis de la Tour ($17) and Louis Bouillot ($26) are examples.

The key to good sparkling wine is to taste creamy yet dry at the same time – quite a tricky concept! How is this achieved? I’ll tell you in the next issue of bmag. Stay tuned!

 

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