StateWays Nov/Dec 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 51

StateWays n n November/December 2015 40 SPARKLING WINE / CHAMPAGNE primarily from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. The economic recovery has been good to Champagne producers. Shipments to the United States grew in 2014 to 1.6 million cases, up more than 100,000 cases from the previous year, according to the Champagne Bureau USA. The big Champagne brands, like Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët, account for the vast majority of ex- ports to the United States. But small growers, many of whom sell their grapes, dominate the vineyard scene. In recent years, more of these growers have started producing their own wines – so-called "grower Champagnes." Only about 4 percent of the Cham- pagne exported to the U.S. is grower Champagne. Champagne makers, large and small, each have a house style that's most obviously reflected in the winery's non-vintage brut, a blend of several vintages. Champagne makers are master blenders, working with dozens of very acidic "base wines" to get just the right result. Veuve Clicquot is the bestselling brand of Champagne in the U.S., with 405,000 cases sold in 2014, up 9.5 percent over the previ- ous year, according to The Beverage Information & Insights Group. It's followed closely by sister brand Moët, with 370,000, up nearly 6 percent. At K&L Wine Merchants, a California retailer with stores in San Francisco, Redwood City and Hollywood, Champagne is king among sparkling wines. Gary Westby, K&L's Champagne buyer, notes that the stores have fewer than 20 SKUs for Prosecco and Cava and about 20 for California sparkling wine, but more than 300 for Champagne. "We're really lucky to have a whole bunch of great custom- ers who are willing to spend money on high-quality wines," Westby says. That said, he believes that Champagne offers great value when you consider the marginal climate of the Champagne region and the rules that govern the wine's production. K&L gives its customers the opportunity to explore Champagne through a variety of tastings. One program is "Champagne Friday," held once a month at the San Francisco and Redwood City stores. The price is minimal, Westby says, just enough to cover costs. K&L also holds a fall tasting with more than 50 Champagnes. AMERICAN BUBBLY The Champenois helped spawn a revolution in California sparkling wine. Moët-Hennessy — parent to Veuve Clicquot and Moët – started Domaine Chandon in 1973 in the Napa Valley. There had been some bubbly in California produced in the traditional methode champenoise, but the success of Chandon opened the floodgates. Foreign invest- ment in the 1980s led to ventures like Roederer Estate, Mumm Napa Valley, Taittinger's Domaine Carneros and Gloria Ferrer (part of Spain's Freixenet empire). Korbel, founded in the 1880s, is currently the largest California producer of traditional-method sparkling wine, followed by Do- maine Chandon (Korbel is No. 3 overall in volume among domes- tic producers). But some of the top-selling brands are wines made with the charmat method. One that's phenomenally successful is OTHER SPARKLERS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE Although Champagne, domestic bubbly, Prosecco and Cava are the major categories, sparkling wines are produced in many parts of the world. Italy, for one, has numerous sparkling appellations, in addition to Prosecco. Near Milan, Franciacorta produces sparkling wine in the traditional method, known in Italian as metodo classico, using the classic Champagne grapes of chardonnay and pinot nero (noir). Metodo classico wines are also produced in Trento, north of Verona. Lambrusco, from near Modena, is a juicy pink bubbly that pairs well with rich foods. Although Lambrusco was made famous by the sweet Riunite, there are a number of dry, high-quality examples. Moscato – sweet and either lightly or fully sparkling – is produced in a lot of places in Italy, but the best versions are labeled Moscato d'Asti. The wines are generally low in alcohol, too, and can be very refreshing after a heavy holiday meal. France has a number of sparkling wines besides Champagne. Cremant d'Alsace (from Alsace) and Cremant de Bourgogne (Burgundy) can both offer tre- mendous value. The Loire Valley produces sev- eral types of bubblies, most notably Saumur. Blanquette de Limoux hails from Languedoc, in southern France. English sparkling wine has seen a boom in recent years, although it's virtually non- existent in U.S. stores. Georgia, the former Soviet republic, has a fledgling sparkling wine industry, and the wines have started to appear in the U.S. Australia has developed a good reputation for sparkling wine. The Yarra Valley outside Melbourne is the Australian outpost of Moet Hennessy. Bubbly from Tasmania is particularly good, and sparkling shiraz is gaining popularity in some quarters.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Stateways - StateWays Nov/Dec 2015