Wine Culture Magazine

What you need to know about the bubble you’ll be drinking all summer

There is arguably no beverage more versatile than sparkling wine. It’s what you drink when celebrating, commiserating or concocting your next culinary adventure.

As summer’s heat approaches, consider a fun, easy-drinking and affordable style of sparkling wine made in the ‘other’ traditional method: Charmat.

But not all sparkling wines are the same. The most famous are the ones made according to the traditional Champagne method, which are known for their finesse, complex flavours and often steep price tag. But as summer’s heat approaches, consider instead a fun, easy-drinking and affordable style of sparkling wine made in the “other” traditional method: Charmat.

Named for Eugène Charmat, the inventor who patented the method in 1907, and also known as the tank or cuve close method, Charmat wines offer fresh and fruity flavours, typically at the fraction of Champagne’s price.

Unlike Champagne, which undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, Charmat wines are blended in pressurized stainless-steel tanks. Following a primary fermentation, the wines are mixed with sugar and yeast, and sealed in the tanks for a cool second fermentation that produces carbon dioxide and a bit more alcohol. The spent yeast is filtered out and a “dosage” of sugar and wine is added for sweetness and a hint of colour. The wine is bottled under pressure to ensure the preservation of the bubbles.

Charmat wines are made from a near-endless variety of grapes and often reveal upfront flavours of lemon curd, tropical and stone fruits, vanilla and honey. The bubbles in these wines lean towards full, soft and frothy, with a playful mouthfeel.

Some of the most famous Charmat-method wines come from Italy (Prosecco, Asti, Lambrusco, Moscato), but are also made in Germany (Sekt), South Africa, Chile, Argentina, California, and of course, here in B.C., where they are the ultimate sippable summer sparklers.

Five B.C. Charmat wines to try

Evolve Cellars NV Élan Effervescence
(Summerland, $20): Off-dry, bright and balanced.

JoieFarm 2017 Quotidien
(Naramata, $25): Juicy and toasty citrus.

Liquidity Wines NV Bubbly
(Okanagan Falls, $23): Grapefruit, melon and a kiss of white pepper.

Stoneboat NV Piano
(Oliver, $25): Peach, pear, green apple and honey.

The Hatch NV Octobubble Brut Rosé
(West Kelowna, $30): Bright red fruit, hazelnut, lemon.

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