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Special occasions should always be celebrated with a bit of pizzazz, and nothing spells pizzazz like Champagne!

Lanson Black label NV ~$40, exclusive to Dan Murphy’s.

‘A Champagne made predominantly with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
in the purest Champagne style. Vinification without malolactic fermentation:
a historic decision at Lanson to guarantee a fresh and fruity wine.’

Everyone loves a ‘champers’, and nothing beats the birthplace of sparkling wine, Champagne.

Aussies have forever been in love with the bubbly stuff we colloquially called ‘champers’, Australian sparkling wine made in any number of ways, but for many years labelled and marketed under the moniker “Champagne”, much to the annoyance of the French.

Nothing wrong with Australian sparkles, just it ‘aint Champagne.

Maybe our wine industry suffered from an inferiority complex in our early days, labelling everything after foreign wine regions such as Port, Chablis, Rhine Riesling, Burgundy etc. To make matters worse, we didn’t really even try to make wines true to those regions styles. For instance, Chablis is Chardonnay, yet our ‘chablis’ could have been almost any dry white, and Rhine Riesling turned into all sorts of concoctions from dry to sweet, being the ruin of the riesling market for about 20 years!

Stanley 4lt Rhine riesling casks….yuck!!

Eventually, under trade agreements, we phased out the use of these terms, replacing them with varietal names, or in sparkling wines case, just that “Australian Sparkling”.

Sparkling 101……. There are 4 main methods of making sparkling wine:

1. carbonation – like soft drink.
2. tank fermentation (Charmat method) – the wine is put through secondary fermentation in a bulk tank and then is bottled under pressure.
3. transfer method – the wine is put through secondary fermentation in the bottle, then all the bottles are emptied into a tank and the yeast sediment is filtered out. It is then rebottled under pressure.
4. Champagne method (Methode Champenoise) – the wine is put through secondary fermentation in the bottle, and the wine stays in this bottle with the naturally produced bubbles until the consumer drinks it.

Most Australian premium Sparkling uses the Transfer Method, with a few using Methode Champenoise, which will almost certainly be labelled as such.

The cheaper stuff mainly use the Charmat method, due to economy of scale.

The size of the bead, or bubble, is normally a good indicator of which method it used….crudely, the fatter the bead, the cheaper method used.

For me Australian Sparkling wines will tend to be more fruit driven, have a softer mouth feel, a more aggressive bead, with maybe a little less finesse and elegance. The best examples will be more classical in style, and more expensive to boot!

Champagne on the other hand is all about finesse, elegance, a fine persistent bead, lean crisp flavours, romance…and most important of all, Celebration!

Lanson Black Label Brut is my go-to Champagne. A lovely wine, inexpensive in champagne terms, in fact pretty much a bargain.

When we where in Reims (Champagne country) a couple of years ago, we did a couple of tours, and rummaged thru the odd bottleshop or three, but couldn’t fine any recognisable brand at a cheaper price than we could get them back home! Go figure! In the town the stuff is made, yet cheaper 15000kms away!

Mind you, shouldn’t complain, can’t see myself back in Champagne buying the stuff anytime soon….

As much as I’d happily drink local sparkling wines, and do so regularly, when it comes to those special occasions….

So, $40 well spent I say…….and Happy Anniversary!

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