I wanted to drink Cava and Franciacorta this week. There was some bad taste experiences with my favourit German Winzersekt. The vintners changed style with new vintages. That is why I thought it’s time to broaden my horizon.
What did I get? Champagne !!! And not even a good one.
I even double checked. My eyes are OK. The label clearly says Cava and Franciacorta. I fear it’s another case of the disease. No not Corona.
The identity of a bottle of bubbly
Sparkling wine all over Europe like German Winzersekt (‘Vintners Sekt’), Spanish Cava or Italian Franciacorta claims to brings terroir to the tongue.
Each glass is presenting an estate‘s distinct blend of soil, climate and use of traditional regional varieties. Each bubbly sip infuses the senses with the taste and life of a region … OK enough of the marketing 🐮 💩. It is called Champagne-syle…
Yes, you read right. Champagne. The well-known region for sparkling wine in France. The one and only that are allowed to call their sparkling wine champagne. The other regions can’t do that because the name is protected. That’s why they call it something else. Cava. Winzersekt or Franciocarta for example.
The long way to establish a brand
As a matter of fact customers understand meanwhile that there is something else than ‘el cheapo’ fizzy plonk that costs 2,49 Euro a bottle in the discount supermarket.
Basically it’s not the champagne’s fault that the other regions can’t promote their sparkling wine to make it something special. I know it costs a lot of time and money to built a brand. The small vintners outside the champagne region often don’t have the money for promotion.
Champagne has the reputation, the sales force and the money to get it distributed into the last corner of the world.
German Winzersekt (‘Vintners Sekt’)
Let’s have a look at German Winzersekt, for example. It is in its baby shoes to be established as an international brand. Protection as a brand was in 2009, compared to Champagne in 1936.
Important to realize is that the triumphal march of Champage started much earlier than 1936. Somewhere in the 17th century. The champagne houses had a long time to built their reputation. The other regions have a long way to go.
I’m not talking of quality. It’s about awareness and understanding sparkling wines. Winzersekt beats champagne in blind tastings. That is a fact.
But wait Sekt? That does not sound very sexy and translated into English it means cult. Not a good start for sales. Than it’s a 2010 vintage. Uh, poooh, 10 year old bubbles. That can’t be good.
I understand it takes effort to explain the customer that they are not old, but freshly disgorged. On the other hand what’s the reason to make vintage sparkling wine? It takes a lot of time and effort. Afterwards it’s hidden because the customers don’t understand it immediately. Where is the logic? If you are proud of a product, you fight for it.
The easy way
I know explaining is tedious and troublesome. It’s easier to explain the customers the sparkling wines are champagne-style. That saves time and everybody understands it.
As a result the taste of a region, its own identity gets lost over time. The goal is to make champagne. That makes it easier to get a piece of the cake. That is a pity I think.
Where is the love?
I know vintners can’t live from me, even if I drink plenty of bubbles. Anyhow I value what is in my glass. If I want to drink champagne, I buy champagne.
I don’t think I’m alone out there. It’s just not enough people to make it going round.
Any non-champagne sparkler is not worth less because it doesn’t have the champagne label and reputation.
You have to explain, charm, and instill trust into your product. Make the people taste the bubbles. And don’t be “afraid” of the reaction. It took hundred of years for champagne to get its reputation. Surely it doesn’t happen overnight with non-champagne sparklers.
And maybe start in front of your doorstep. No need to go international if the own country doesn’t understand the product.
As I have said please don’t take the easy way, dear vintners. And I will ask again quo vadis sparkling wine? Do you really wanna put your effort in a copycat of champagne?
I will continue to hunt fine non-champagne style bottles and promote them to my friends. I want them to be aware that it mustn’t always be champagne.