Here, we review 60 sparkling wines and champagnes priced from $5.95 to $71.40.
The festive season is upon us and, once again, CHOICE set about determining the best bubblies to help celebrate. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!
Whether you’re after cheap and cheerful, lower alcohol, rosé or something special, there’s something for everyone in our selections. And, as we discovered, you don’t necessarily have to pay a fortune for a decent drop.
December can be an expensive month, so it’s nice to know you can buy a tolerable sparkling and still get change from a $10 note. But although value for money can be found at under $10, disappointingly, our experts found no noticeable increase in quality moving up to the $10-20 bracket.
However, if you’re willing to pay more than $50 for your tipple, you’re more likely to be rewarded with better quality. In fact, the three highest-scoring bubblies in our test are all well-known French champagnes, and all among the most expensive. But similarly high-scoring wines can be found in the $20-50 bracket, home to the greatest number of quality quaffs on test.
After filling up on shortbread, mince pies and Christmas pud, you might be keen for a lighter drop to wash it all down, so our test included seven sparkling wines with just six to eight per cent alcohol (most full-strength wines have between 12% and 14%).
The demand for reduced-alcohol wines is increasing, in part driven by people wanting waist-friendly options (about 90% of the kilojoules in white wine comes from the alcohol). The recently launched McWilliam’s Balance range, endorsed by Weight Watchers, claims to be a third lower in kilojoules than other wines, and its sparkling has just eight per cent alcohol. But there are other sparkling wines lower still in alcohol, three of which performed better in our taste test.
- Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne NV
- Brown Brothers Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier NV
- Brown Brothers Zibibbo
- Brown Brothers Zibibbo Rosa
- Carrington Blush Special Cuvee NV
- Carrington Brut Reserve Special Cuvee NV
- Cattier Brut Premier Cru NV
- Cave De Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne NV
- Champagne Monsigny Brut (Aldi)
- Chandon NV Australian Brut
- Clover Hill Pipers River Tas Vintage 2007 Release
- Cockatoo Ridge Premium Brut Cuvee
- Croser Petaluma NV
- Deutz Marlborough Cuvee Brut NV
- Elemes Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir (Aldi)
- Grandin NV Methode Traditionnelle Brut
- Grant Burge Australia Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV
- Hardys R&R Classic Cuvee NV
- Henkell Trocken Sekt NV
- House of Arras Brut Elite
- Jacob's Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir Vintage 2010
- Jacob's Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee
- Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rose Cuvee
- Jacob's Creek Trilogy Cuvee Brut
- Jacob's Creek Trilogy Cuvee Rose
- Jansz Tasmania Premium NV Cuvee
- Jansz Tasmania Premium NV Rose
- Killawarra Brut Australian Bubbly
- Lindauer Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV
- Lindemans Early Harvest Sparkling NV
- Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc NV
- McWilliams Balance NV Brut Cuvee
- Minchinbury White Seal Private Cuvee NV
- Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne
- Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut Champagne NV
- Ninth Island Tasmania NV
- Omni NV Classic Sparkling
- Omni Pink Sparkling Rose
- Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut NV
- Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut NV
- Pol Gessner Champagne Brut NV
- Queen Adelaide Brut NV
- Seaview Brut NV
- Seppelt Fleur De Lys NV
- Seppelt Great Western Imperial Reserve NV
- Somerton Brut Reserve NV
- Taltarni Brut 2009
- Taltarni Tache 2009
- Trevi Original NV
- Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV
- Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Cuvee Brut NV
- Yarra Burn Premium Cuvee Brut
- Yarra Burn Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier 2007
- Yellowglen NV Jewel Pink
- Yellowglen NV Jewel Yellow
- Yellowglen NV Pink
- Yellowglen NV Yellow
- Yellowglen Vintage Bella 2011
- Yellowglen Vintage Cremant 2009
- Yellowglen Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2010
How we test
Expert tasters are trained to judge wines on their merits, setting aside personal preferences. They know the price range, but otherwise the wines are tasted blind, identified only by numbers.
Each expert independently gives the wines a score out of 20, following the international showscoring system for wines – a maximum of three for appearance, seven for nose (aroma) and 10 for palate. The score published in the table is a consensus score reached when the experts discuss the wine after tasting, still without knowing which wines are which.
- A wine that scores 15.5-16.9 points would be awarded a bronze medal at a wine show
- 17-18.4 points would earn a silver.
- 18.5 or more would be awarded a gold.
Meet the experts
|Andrea Pritzker has over 10 years’ experience in the wine trade, and is manager of content and campaigns for Langton’s. She has a diploma in Wine Business from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce.
||Phillip Gregory works for specialist importer Pinot Now. He’s an experienced wine judge with a Master of Wine Quality from the University of Western Sydney.
||Samantha Payne is a sommelier and wine writer from Sydney who has worked in the wine industry for more than eight years.
|Mike Bennie is an experienced wine judge and freelance journalist who writes for publications such as Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine and review website winefront.com.au.
||Paul Rogers is a wine lawyer and holds the Australasian Wine Masters Award from the International Wine Academy.