Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

More regions look to sparkling

Published:  11 April, 2012

Up-and-coming regions turning their hand to sparkling wine production are giving Champagne a run for its money.

That's according to sommeliers, suppliers and off-trade buyers who are seeing widespread consumer demand for cheaper alternatives to Champagne thanks to a wave of traditional method sparklers flooding the market.

Sparkling sales grew 11.6% by value in the off-trade, while Champagne grew by just 1.2% in the same period (Nielsen, year to March 1, 2012). Star performers included Italian wines, up 48%, while Chilean and English were up by 26% each. French sparklers from outside Champagne grew 12.5% too.

"From the Spanish cava to the Italian Prosecco, to the red sparkling Zinfandel from California, we can definitely see a common interest in producing sparkling wine, ideally with the adoption of the traditional method, using the grape varieties of the area, with very interesting results," said Marika Rossi, head sommelier at London's L'etranger.

As the consumer becomes increasingly critical about the quality of sparkling wine, "a lot more weight [will be] given to the balance and complexity of the wine and much less interest in their 'label'," according to Rossi.

Bruno Piane, head sommelier at Bocca di Lupo in Soho, predicted England will "experience strong commercial growth in sparkling wines" in the near future. English bubbles "seem able to excite the curiosity of, and to satisfy, a growing number of customers," he said.

England and Brazil are the ones to watch, according to Iain Muggoch, Bibendum's director of buying for Southern hemisphere and Champagne. "England because the climate and soils are so suited to traditional method sparkling wines, and Brazil because they have a long history of making fizz and are now starting to become attuned to the needs of export market," he said.

New Zealand has also turned its hand to sparkling production with great success, it grew 3% by value in the UK off-trade. Asda's sparkling buyer Lynsey Grace said: "New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs combine in one product a number of key consumer trends - Sauvignon Blanc and the 'refreshing' style of wine as well as sparkling; we are excited about launching some of these style of products later in 2012."