Bubbly. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’m definitely an enthusiast. Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate in the amount of travel I was able to do, and the amount of beautiful sparkling wine I enjoyed while doing it. It was a fun discovery to learn that several countries do sparkling wines really, really well, even rivaling France in some cases. Here are three unexpected places that make great bubbles!
Look, I was ready to have the time of my life drinking authentic caipirinhas in Brazil (and I did). I wasn’t prepared to find incredible sparkling wine! When I think of wines made in the Southern Hemisphere, I think Chile, Argentina, New Zealand. I had no idea that Brazilians have been turning out stellar wine since the mid-19th century! Of the approximately 90 million gallons of wine that Brazil produces each year, just under half of that is sparkling. While sparkling wine is made all over this massive country, the Serra Gaucha region, in the extreme south, is the pillar of the sparkling wine industry.
The wine that first caught my attention was the Viapiana 192 Brut. A perfect bottle for lunch or a weeknight at home, it was light and well balanced. Cave Geisse is a boutique producer that strictly makes wine using traditional methods. The Cave Geisse Nature was one of my favorites of the trip! Brazil also makes some lovely sparkling rosés. Wines here are a great value – $20-40 is a sweet spot for consistently high-quality, delicious bottles!
With the terroir of the Southern coast and increasingly warmer temps, this part of Great Britain has a climate that isn’t terribly unlike the Champagne region. A quick web search will yield several opinions on the best British bubbles; my favorite, though, is the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee. This is one of those things you have while traveling and you almost wish you hadn’t, because it’s virtually impossible to get your hands on a bottle if you aren’t in the UK. This sparkling wine is toasty and complex, with the most beautiful pale gold bubbles. It happens to pair beautifully with a couple of Michelin stars, though I’m sure it would also pair well with Netflix and chill.
Switzerland shouldn’t be as surprising as it was to me; after all, its proximity to France is a good clue that this is an ideal region for growing grapes. The Lavaux region of Switzerland, just across Lake Geneva from Evian, France, has over 800 hectares of terraced vineyards dating back to the 11th century. The Lavaux vineyards are so significant they’ve been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Swiss like to say the wine is so good that they drink it all, which is why most of us don’t know about it. The numbers back that claim up – only about 2% of Swiss wines are exported.
Switzerland is an excellent destination for oenophiles! Incredible as a destination in its own right, for those who’ve already explored the wine scene in nearby France and Italy, heading to Switzerland would be a natural next step.
In the interest of transparency, I enjoyed a lot of beautiful French champagne in Switzerland; however, I also thoroughly enjoyed Cuvée Louis-Edouard Mauler Millésime Brut, a solid Swiss Blanc de Noirs.
Travel and bubbles – two of my very favorite things. Cheers!