Later this week, we’ll be posting some stunning photography of the Champagne region as we take Hannibal Brown on a road trip across northern France and Luxembourg.

But for now, we’ve been up and down the country inviting interested to folk to try a range of our bubbles – from sparkling New Zealand Riesling (yes!) to a whole host of Champagnes & Proseccos.  What stands out is the huge impact that Prosecco is having.   But why has it become so popular?  Simple – it beats Champagne on a number of levels.

Firstly, it’s about a third of the price of a typical branded Champagne.

Secondly, it has a light carbonation, so easier to sip on.

Thirdly, the alcohol is generally lower, so again, more appeal

Fourthly, acidity is generally lower than a typical Champagne.

That’s a lot of reasons to stick to Prosecco!  And why not?  Well, spare a thought for Champagne for a second.   Let’s consider what it has to offer and begin to understand why the higher price tag :

1. the process of Champagne production or ‘methode champenoise’ is more complicated and acutely more refined.  Champagne actually goes through two sets of fermentation.

2.   the flavours of the grape varieties permitted (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier) are broader and considerably more flavoursome.

3.  vintage Champagne has the capacity to mature over many, many years.   Arguably, vintage Champagne often needs at least 20 years maturation before it really begins to open up.

Ruinart Cellars

The cavenous cellars at Ruinart

Champagne Cellars

Gothic & breathtaking

Fourthly, and as far as I am concerned most importantly, Champagne has the most incredible chalk cellars carved out by the Romans that stretch for miles and miles, running deep under region and well worth several visits!   The best to see, in my opinion, are at Pommery and at Ruinart (although the latter is sadly charging a small fortune to visit them these days!)

Key Points of Difference

1.  Prosecco is from Italy, Champagne is from France (and Cava is from Spain).

 

2.  Prosecco is a Grape, Champagne is a Region and Cava is a ‘Denominacion de Origen’ (see my blog entry about the meaning of  AOC as that is the French equivalent).

3.  Both Champagne and Cava go through two sets of fermentation, one which occurs  in the bottle once it is corked (hence capturing the natural bubbles).  Prosecco, on the other hand, undergoes its second fermentation in the tank, in effect pumped with CO2, and is bottled afterwards.

 

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