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Sparkling wines from Burgundy

By Amy Simmons · September 22nd, 2004 · Uncorked!
When is sparkling wine from France not champagne? When it's from Burgundy. The region most known for producing world-renowned and oft-temperamental pinot noir also offers a category of sparkling white wine that provides a champagne experience without a big bubbly price tag.

Celebrating a special occasion recently, I lifted a glass of Chateau de la Tour de L'Ange ($15.99 locally) to toast friends and family. The wine is slightly less bubbly than champagne but offers a nice balance of crisp fruits and medium finish in a lighter style. It's a great choice for a party selection or to enjoy during a simple evening in.

Chateau de la Tour de L'Ange is a very small winery, located in the wine-producing region of Macon, the southern part of Burgundy. Macon is also a substantial producer of white burgundy, made from chardonnay grapes.

The Chateau grows its own grapes, instead of buying from a negociant, essentially a dealer of grapes.

Burgundy is one of the largest wine regions in France, located in the eastern section of the country. The region is known largely for its pinot noir and chardonnay, so I was surprised to find it also produces a sparkling wine.

Sparkling wines from Burgundy also belong to the Cremant de Bourgogne appellation, covering dry sparkling wines from this region. French wines are geography-driven from the name of the wine to the label on the bottle. As they say, it's about "location, location, location" -- but that's a column for another day.

The wine is made from the methode champenoise, the traditional process used to make champagne. Like many champagnes, L'Ange is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. The sparkling burgundy may also be made of pinot blanc, pinot gris, pinot noir or riesling. Using the methode champenois process, the still wine is mixed with sugar and yeast to ferment before bottling. An additional sugar mixture is added, causing a second fermentation in the bottle. When less sugar is used, the resulting style is called cremant, producing a lighter style sparkling wine.

Sparkling wines from Burgundy offer an appealing alternative to champagne. I'm a big fan of bubbly; for everyday occasions that don't warrant $30 to $50 for champagne, I always consider sparkling wine from Burgundy as an attractive alternative.



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