Sparkling vs Champagne
An excerpt from my writings for the 2016 Vin de Champagne Awards Essays.
'The protection of the image of Champagne is one of the major tasks undertaken by the Comites Champagne, who thankfully, are present in 16 of the largest export markets. It is necessary to protect the authenticity of the product, place and its people, as to date the name of Champagne is still widely misused. ‘Champagne’ is being incorrectly used as a generic term to describe all sparkling wines and even some foodstuffs. In short, false advertising. Generally, it is felt in our young winemaking country that Australians still hold the perception that all sparkling wines can be called ‘Champagne’. Using the term Champagne to describe any bubbly wine has been gentrified and is a hangover from previous decades where labelling restrictions were not in place to protect the genuine product. Confusion reigns over what is Champagne and what is not Champagne across all age groups.
Everyone has an idea of what the product is. With the luxury packaging of the wines and the theatrics of opening a bottle there is a promise or expectation of quality and an experience to be had. Champagne has become a category to represent an occasion which we all experience in life, whether it be a wedding, a birth or a significant birthday. This is part of the argument that winemakers in the USA use to still be allowed to label their wines with the name Champagne, so long as the origin of grapes is also stated. Thankfully, on the contrary, Australia has shifted to appreciate Old World EU wine policies and thus we have now experienced a couple of decades in which we have not used the name ‘Champagne’ on our Sparkling wines; this followed the 1994 Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Amendment Act. Australia agreed to relinquish the use of certain terms, including Beaujolais and Chianti, and although the non-use of the word Champagne had not been enforced until 2010, we knew it was coming and through the wine industry have shown respect for what Champagne truly is.
The appellation of Champagne is something that is very protected and guarded by the Champenoise and more internationally by The Comité Interprofessionel Vin de Champagne through their bureaus whom have made the take home message an easy one to respect, ‘there can only be one Champagne, from Champagne, Northern France’.
Although I enjoy drinking and learning about Champagne, at the end of the day, I make Australian Sparkling Wine and am very proud of this fact! Next time your out and about ask 'for a glass of sparkling' and be rewarded with the complex nectar that you know has been lovingly grown and made on our home soil! Drink Local, Drink Australian!