We are in the midst of a champagne shortage and while there is a lot of talk about why this is the case, industry experts say there are several factors at play.
Emperor Champagne CEO Kyla Kirkpatrick says mass domestic consumption and supply issues have created the perfect storm.
“You have slow production after two years of Covid-19 affecting the workforce in France, and it has impacted everything from label printing to the production of corks,” says Kirkpatrick . “And people haven’t traveled or been to restaurants. They bought consumer goods rather than having experiences.
Shipping costs have also skyrocketed as desperate companies pay higher rates to transport their goods. “And even if you do manage to get a shipping container, which went from an average of $ 4,000 for a 20ft container to $ 11,000 over a 12-month period, you can’t get it out of there. ‘water,’ says Kirkpatrick.
“There are so many ships off the Sydney and Queensland coasts and they just can’t dock.”
It was also a difficult year for the producers. Boutique champagne importer Ryan Larkin, from Larkin Imports, says volatile weather conditions have affected producers, 2021 particularly problematic for champagne.
“This will most certainly create a shortage in the years to come, and we will most certainly see an increase in prices as small producers struggle to make ends meet,” Larkin said.
So while our love affair with champagne will remain, there has never been a better time to pop a bottle of Australian sparkling wine. From prosecco to pet nat and the traditional sparkling method, here are my top picks for the holiday season.
LESS THAN $ 25
Ninth Island, Sparkling Rosé NV, Tamar Valley, Tasmania (List price: $ 25)
Get moving for your dough. Cream-coated strawberries, just like what your nan served to you as a kid, supported by layers of crisp acidity, zest and a round finish thanks to aging on lees (a technique that adds texture, body and a nice smoothness to the wine). Tasmania is synonymous with bubbly in Australia, and this little number gives you everything you need to have a good time.
LESS THAN $ 50
Elan Vineyard, Blanc De Blancs, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria (List price: $ 40)
Dry, crunchy and consistent. Made from Chardonnay grapes, this traditional method sparkling wine carries all the characteristics of an easy-to-drink champagne. I have recommended this wine, vintage after vintage, for years and it is an absolute cracker for its price. Elan is a small, low-yielding family business and winemaker Selma Lowther is around most weekends, so you’ll get all the information you need straight from the horse’s mouth.
Vasse Felix, Idée Fixe Premier Brut, Margaret River, Western Australia (List price: $ 48)
I tend to gravitate towards blanc de blancs (an elegant way of describing a wine made exclusively from white grapes, in this case Chardonnay). To me, they are everything you want in bubbles. Sleek and expressive, Vasse delivers with that refined drop that welcomes you with a succulent, toasty and biscuit nose, and layers of citrus and creamy texture on the palate. I know it sounds a little crazy, but you understand me.
Andrew Buller Wines, Cannobie Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay NV, Rutherglen, Victoria (List price: $ 29)
Served aboard the jet that brought Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Australia a few years ago, this sparkling strikes well above its weight. Stone fruits, citrus and a hint of yeast dominate on the nose, a lively acidity continues on the palate. Made with the traditional method, it’s bright, cool bubbles at a ridiculous price. It’s an absolute theft.
Dal Zotto, Col Fondo Prosecco, King Valley, Victoria (List price: $ 30)
Don’t be put off by the sediment dancing around the tray, this wine has undergone secondary fermentation in the bottle rather than being mass produced in a stainless steel tank. It offers complexity, with flavors of lemon sorbet, green fruits and flowers, and ultimately a wine far too easy to drink … especially on a Friday. If you’re going to drink a prosecco, grab a decent one. And for $ 30, I think this one is perfect.
Peregrine Ridge, NV Sparkling Shiraz, Heathcote, Victoria (List price: $ 42)
Plums, cherries and spices – if your looking for a sparkling red try this baby. Aged in oak barrels, before being fermented in the bottle, this medium weight wine is best served straight out of the refrigerator. I guess you could cellar it; I never do. My mate is a Heathcote shiraz freak and introduced me to this wine several years ago. I find we drink it mostly around Christmas, as it pairs well with plum pudding and cheese, but it would easily stand up to your savory dishes.
Brash Higgins, ‘Crystal ‘Sparkling White, McLaren Vale, South Australia (List price: $ 37)
Pet 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 interesting), this wine has a beer vibe, with lots of fruit, mostly apples and pears. But he must really be served cold. I love the way Brad and Nicole, the duo behind Brash, experiment with obscure grape varieties and playful techniques. So if you’re feeling brave this holiday season, give their wine a magnifying glass.
MORE THAN $ 50
Parkside Estate, 2015 Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges, Victoria (List price: $ 65)
Buy a dozen oysters and start your evening with this sparkling, easy-to-drink bottle. Citrus notes dominate the palate, with a round, creamy brioche texture that will keep you coming back for more. This is one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” type of scenarios. It will evaporate before your eyes.
Deviation Road, Beltana Blanc De Blancs, Adelaide Hills, South Australia (List price: $ 105)
Winemaker Kate Laurie has just released her 2015 vintage after a year of killing with her 14th birthday. This woman cannot be 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 notes of roasted, creamy almonds, candied lemon and green fruits, his Beltanas have this minerality that I love. A lot of work goes into these wines, so don’t be put off by the price.
House of Arras, 2006 EJ Carr Late Disgorged, Tamar Valley, Tasmania (List price: $ 200)
OK, this wine is not cheap. And no, I don’t often drink wine of this caliber. But when I do, I’m blown away by what some Australian producers are doing. As good as any quality champagne, there is texture, complexity, layers of biscuit, honey, curd, fresh dried fruit and acidity. And my God, does it have length (a wacky term to describe how long flavors linger in your mouth). What a wine.