Sparkling Organic wine
Sparkling organic wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it, making it fizzy. The classic example of a sparkling wine is champagne, which is exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. Most sparkling organic wine is white or rosé but there are examples of red sparkling organic wines such as the Italian Brachetto, Australian sparkling Shiraz, and Azerbaijani “Pearl of Azerbaijan” made from Madrasa grapes. The sweetness of sparkling organicwine can range from very dry “brut” styles to sweeter “doux” varieties (from the French words for ‘raw’ and ‘sweet’, respectively)
The sparkling quality, of sparkling wine, comes from its carbon dioxide content and may be the result of natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the traditional method, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of simple carbon dioxide injection in some cheaper sparkling wines.
In most countries the word “champagne” is reserved only for the specific type of sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. The French terms “Mousseux” or “Crémant” are used to refer to sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region, such as Blanquette de Limoux produced in Southern France. Sparkling wines are also produced in other regions of France as well as other countries around the world. These sparkling wines are often referred to by their local name or region, such as Espumante from Portugal, Cava from Spain, Franciacorta, Trento DOC, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico and Asti from Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine being spumante) and Cap Classique from South Africa. Sparkling wine have also been produced in Central and Eastern Europe since the early 19th-century. “Champagne” was further popularised in the region, late in the century, when József Törley started production in Hungary using French methods, learned as an apprentice in Reims. Törley has since become one of the largest European producers of sparkling wine. The United States, is also a significant producer of sparkling wine today, with producers in numerous states. Recently production of sparkling wine have started in the United Kingdom again, after a long hiatus since some of the earliest examples of sparkling wine was produced there.
French sparkling organic wine
The most well-known example of sparkling wine is that of Champagne from the Champagne wine region of France. On average, Champagne is responsible for about 8% of worldwide sparkling wine production with many other regions emulating the “Champagne style” in both grapes used (generally Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier) and production methods—sometimes referred to as the “Champagne method”. French sparkling wines made according to the Champagne method of fermentation in the bottle, but sometimes use different grape varieties, are known as Cremants and are governed under their own Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) regulations. Another style of sparkling wine found in France are those made according to the methode ancestrale which skips the process of disgorgement and produces wines with slight sweetness and still containing the particles of dead yeast matter in the form of lees in the bottle. The regions of Gaillac, Limoux and Clairette de Die are the most well-known producers of methode ancestrale wines.
Other European sparkling organic wine
Organic Cava is the name of a type of Spanish (mostly in Catalonia but also in other regions such as Valencia, La Rioja, Aragon, Extremadura) white or pink sparkling wine produced mainly in the Penedès region in Catalonia, 40 km to the south west of Barcelona, with the méthode champenoise but grape varieties different from grapes used in Champagne making. Cava is a Greek term that was used to refer to a “high end” table wine or wine cellar, and comes from the Latin word “cava” which means cave in English. Caves were used in the early days of Cava production for the preservation or aging of wine. Today Cavas have become integrated with Catalan and also Spanish family traditions and is often consumed at any kind of celebrations (baptism, marriages, banquets, dinners and parties). The sparkling wine of Cava was created in 1872 by Josep Raventós. The vineyards of Penedès were devastated by the phylloxera plague, and the predominantly red vines were being replaced by large numbers of vines producing white grapes. After seeing the success of the Champagne region, Raventós decided to create the dry sparkling wine that has become the reason for the region’s continued success. In the past the wine was referred to as Spanish Champagne (no longer permitted under EU law), or colloquially as champaña in Spanish or xampany in Catalan.
Cava is produced in varying levels of dryness of the wine which are: brut nature, brut (extra dry), sec (in Catalan) seco (dry), semisec (in Catalan) semiseco (medium) and dolç (in Catalan) dulce (sweet). Under Spanish Denominación de Origen laws, Cava can be produced in six wine regions and must be made according to the Traditional Method with second fermentation in the bottle and uses a selection of the grapes Macabeu, Parellada, Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Subirat. Despite being a traditional Champagne grape, Chardonnay was not used in the production of Cava until the 1980s.
Portuguese sparkling wine
Espumante (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɨʃpuˈmɐ̃t(ɨ)]) is the Portuguese version of a sparkling wine. Unlike Cava, which is produced solely in northern climates, Espumante is not only produced in the northern wet region of Vinho Verde, but also throughout Portugal all the way to the southern region of the Alentejo, known for its extreme temperatures and arid climate.
While Spain has one regulating body, DOC Cava, spread across several different political regions, quality Espumante is produced solely in DOC Bairrada, located just south of Vinho Verde. In order for a wine to be certified as a quality Espumante from DOC Bairrada, it must be made in the traditional champagne (indicating the year of harvest) and stamped with the VEQPRD (Vinho Espumante de Qualidade Produzido em Região Determinada) certification.
VFQPRD is a regional sparkling wine made in the traditional champagne, charmat or transfer method in one of the following determined regions: Douro, Ribatejo, Minho, Alentejo or Estremadura.
VQPRD is a sparkling wine that can be made by injecting the wine with gas in the traditional champagne, charmat, transfer method anywhere in Portugal.
Espumoso is the cheapest and lowest level of sparkling wine, made by injecting the wine with CO2.
Top-quality Espumantes can be found in Bairrada region and in Távora-Varosa sub region – Murganheira is an example of high-quality Espumante from this region.
Italian sparkling wine
According to etymological sources, the term “spumante” was not used in a wine context until 1908, more than 40 years following the first Italian sparkling wine using the méthode champenoise produced by Carlo Gancia which was then sold as “Moscato Champagne”.
Sparkling wines are made throughout Italy but the Italian sparkling wines most widely seen on the world market are the Franciacorta from Lombardy, Asti from Piedmont, Lambrusco from Emilia and Prosecco from Veneto. The Trento DOC is also famous. Though Franciacorta wines are made according to the traditional method, most Italian sparkling wines, in particular Asti and Prosecco, are made with the Charmat method.
Asti is a slightly sweet sparkler made from the Moscato grape in the province of Asti. The wine is noted for its low alcohol levels around 8% and fresh, grapey flavors. Moscato d’Asti is a frizzante style slightly sparkling version of Asti; it is sweeter and contains even less alcohol, typically around 5.5%.
Prosecco sparkling wine from Italy.
The Franciacorta region, located northwest of Brescia, is home to the largest segment of Italian sparkling wine production. Made predominately from Chardonnay and Pinot bianco, sparkling wine labeled under the Franciacorta DOCG is permitted to include no more than 15% Pinot nero. Both vintage and non-vintage Franciacorta sparkling wines are made which require 30 and 18 months, respectively, of aging on the lees. Franciacorta Satèn, a Blanc de blancs, is produced with the reduced 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of 6 for an expression of softness.
Trento DOC is an appellation for white and rosé sparkling wines made according to the méthode traditionnelle. Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Pinot blanc and Pinot Meunier grapes are used. There is a maximum vien yield of 150 q.l. per hectare for all varietals, and a maximum grape yield of 70%. The wines must rest for a minimum of 15 months on their lees for non-vintage, 24 months for vintage, and 36 for riserva. Minimum alcohol content must be of 11.5%, or 12% for riserva. Trento DOC wines are distinguished by their straw-yellow color.
Prosecco is made in both fully sparkling (spumante) and lightly sparkling (frizzante) styles. The wine is produced in the cool hills around the town of Valdobbiadene and are generally dry but sweeter examples are produced.
v.f.q.p.r.d. (Vini Frizzanti di Qualità Prodotti in Regioni Determinate): Quality Vini frizzanti made within defined regions are generally labeled as such.