We are in the middle of a champagne shortage, and although there is a lot of discussion about why this is the case, industry experts say there are several factors that come into play.
Kyla Kirkpatrick, CEO of Emperor Champagne, says mass consumption and supply problems have created the perfect storm.
“You’ve had slow production from two years with Covid-19, which has affected the workforce in France, and it’s affected everything from printing labels to producing plugs,” says Kirkpatrick. “And people have not traveled or gone to restaurants. They have bought consumer goods instead of having experience. ”
Shipping costs have also risen as desperate companies pay high prices to transport their goods. “And even if you manage to get a shipping container that has gone from an average of $ 4,000 for a 20ft container to $ 11,000 in a 12-month period, you can’t get it out of the water,” Kirkpatrick says.
“There are so many boats sitting off the coast of Sydney and Queensland and they just can not dock.”
It has also been a difficult year for growers. Boutique champagne importer Ryan Larkin of Larkin Imports says unstable weather patterns have affected producers, and 2021 is particularly problematic for champagne.
“This will definitely create a shortage in the coming years and we will definitely see a price increase when smaller growers struggle to make ends meet,” Larkin said.
So while our love affair with champagne will remain, there has never been a better time to blow up a bottle of Australian sparkling wine. From prosecco to pet night and sparkling traditional method, here are my top picks for Christmas.
UNDER $ 25
Ninth Island, Sparkling Rosé NV, Tamar Valley, Tasmania (REP: $ 25)
Bang for the buck. Strawberries smothered in cream, like what your nan used to serve you as a child, backed by layers of zipped acid, peel and a rounded finish thanks to storage on mountains (basically a technique that adds texture, fullness and a nice creaminess to the wine). Tasmania is synonymous with sparkling in Australia and this little number offers everything you need for a good time.
UNDER $ 50
Elan Vineyard, White, White Mornington Peninsula, Victoria (REP: $ 40)
Dry, crisp and uniform. Made from chardonnay grapes, this sparkling traditional method bears all the hallmarks of an easy-drinking champagne. I have been beating this wine back, vintage after vintage, for years, and it is an absolute biscuit for its price. Elan is a small, family-run, low-yield affair, and winemaker Selma Lowther is present most weekends, so you get all the information you need right from the horse’s mouth.
Vasse Felix, Idea Fixe Premier Brut, Margaret River, Western Australia (REP: $ 48)
I tend to pull in the direction of blanc de blancs (a fancy way of describing a wine made exclusively from white grapes, in this case chardonnay). To me, they are everything you want in a bubble. Elegant and expressive, Vasse presents the goods with this refined drop that welcomes you with a delicious, toasty, crunchiness on the nose and layers of citrus and creamy texture on the palate. I know, it sounds a little skewed, but you catch my drift.
Andrew Buller Wines, Cannobie Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay NV, Rutherglen, Victoria (Travel Price: $ 29)
Served aboard the jet that brought Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Australia a few years back, this sparkling battle is far beyond its weight. Stone fruit, citrus and a touch of yeast dominate nose, with lively acid that accompanies the palate. Made by traditional method, it is a bright, fresh bubble at a ridiculous price. It’s an absolute theft.
Dal Zotto, Col Fondo Prosecco, King Valley, Victoria (REP: $ 30)
Do not be put off by the sediment dancing around the punt, this wine has undergone a secondary fermentation in the bottle instead of being mass-produced in stainless steel tank. This offers complexity with flavors of lemon sorbet, green fruits and flowers, and ultimately a wine that is way too easy to drink … especially on a Friday. If you are going to drink a prosecco, then get a proper one. And for 30 bucks, I reckon this one’s not right.
Peregrine Ridge, NV Sparkling Shiraz, Heathcote, Victoria (REP: $ 42)
Plums, cherries and spices – if you’re looking for a sparkling red, give this baby a try. Ripe in oak before being fermented in a bottle, this medium-weight wine is best served directly from the fridge. I guess you could cellar it; I never do. My partner is a Heathcote shiraz devil, and got me into this wine a number of years back. I think we mostly drink it around Christmas as it goes well with plum pudding and cheese, but it would still easily tolerate your delicious main courses.
Brash Higgins, ‘Crystal ‘Sparkling White, McLaren Vale, South Australia (REP: $ 37)
Pet night lovers, let’s chat. This wine is wild and unfiltered. A blend of chenin blanc and organic crystal grapes (google the story behind the latter, it’s an interesting one) this wine has a beer-like vibe, with predominantly lots of fruit, apples and pears. But it must really be served cold. I love the way Brad and Nicole, the duo behind Brash, experiment with obscure variations and playful techniques. So if you feel brave this festive season, give their wine a burl.
OVER $ 50
Parkside Estate, 2015 Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges, Victoria (RRP: $ 65)
Buy a dozen oysters and kickstart your evening with this lively, easy-drinking bottle of soda. Citrus notes dominate the palate with a well-rounded creamy brioche texture that makes you come back for more. This is one of those “blink and you will miss it” scenarios. It will evaporate before your eyes.
Deviation Road, Beltana Blanc De Blancs, Adelaide Hills, South Australia (REP: $ 105)
Winemaker Kate Laurie has just dropped her 2015 vintage after a deadly year with her 14. This woman can not do anything wrong, her sparkling wines are sensational. I had the privilege of interviewing Kate for the Halliday podcast and she is a wealth of knowledge. With creamy, delicious, roasted almonds, canned lemon and green fruit, her Beltanas have this minerality I love. There is a lot of work involved in these wines, so do not be put off by the price.
House of Arras, 2006 EJ Carr Late Disgorged, Tamar Valley, Tasmania (REP: $ 200)
OK, this wine is not cheap. And no, I do not drink wine of this caliber so often. But when I do, I get blown away by what some Australian producers are doing. As good as any quality champagne is, there is texture, complexity, layers of biscuits, honey, curd, dried and fresh fruit and acid. And my God, it has a length (a weak-minded term to describe how long the flavors linger in your mouth). What a wine.