Champagne & Sparkling Wine Guide 2002

The Performance Tables

The following tables show how most of the 1000-plus Champagnes and other sparkling wines performed in the latest edition of my annual fizz guide. In future, I hope to get these tables online before the book itself is published. Primarily it is posted here to allow those producers who kindly submitted their wines (more than 4,000 this year) see how they performed, but I would also like to offer it as a brief overview (a sneak preview in following years) of this annual guide to Tom Cannavan’s regulars and anyone else who happens to surf by. For a definition of my scoring system, full tasting notes, prices, how to contact each individual producer and lots more, you will, I’m afraid, have to get the book! – Tom S.

The world’s greatest sparkling wine comes first. If and when any other area produces a greater volume of higher quality sparkling wine, I will happily place that first and Champagne second.

Brut Non-vintage & Multi-vintage

Brut Nature & Extra-Brut

Sec, Extra Sec and Demi-Sec

Vintage Brut Champagne

Blanc de Blancs, Vintage & Non-vintage

Blanc de Noirs, Vintage & Non-vintage

Rosé, Vintage & Non-vintage

After last year’s record performance by Crémant d’Alsace, I visited the region to taste in even greater depth. Naturally enough, having tasted far more samples of this appellation, it again came out on top of French regions other than Champagne.

Alsace – all styles

France, including the Loire, Gaillac and Limoux
other France – all styles

As can be gleaned from the results below, the presence of a vintage on an Australian fizz usually represents a step up in terms of quality, although any variation in the different years is more likely to be attributed more to learning curves than climatic conditions.
Non-vintage, Vintage & Sparkling red

England’s climate is every bit as variable as Champagne’s and the White Cliffs of Dover are part of the same chalk basin that extends under Channel and Paris to emerge in the famous region itself as the Côte des Blancs, so it is little wonder that sparkling wine is England’s great wine hope.
England – all styles

Sekt has historically appealed to Germans and few others. Production is enormous, more than twice that of Champagne, but most of this is blended from the dregs of several countries and very little is exported. Until 1986 Deutscher Sekt was a oxymoron, but now has to be the exclusive product of German wine. Smaller producers have always existed, but the quality of their wines was little better than that of the biggest bottlers until recently.
Sekt – Riesling, all styles and others

The best response as always has come from Franciacorta, one of the few places in the world where high quality sparkling wine can be made in large volumes. At long last I am receiving full cooperation from Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui, thus the significant number of wines recommended from those appellations.
Franciacorta, Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui

New Zealand
This country vies with Tasmania as the greatest sparkling wine area in the Southern Hemisphere and only the Loire and Burgundy share the same potential outside of Champagne in the Northern Hemisphere. It will be interesting to see who wins as New Zealand and Tasmania fight it out over the next couple of decades, although neither should worry about the French regions – the French producers don’t.
New Zealand – all styles

There are Cava fans out there who think that I hate Cava unless it has been crafted in the style of a Champagne, but I’m a Cava-sceptic, not a Cava-hater and I am perfectly willing to acknowledge quality in a Cava produced from Parellada, Macabéo and Xarel.lo grapes. The fact that most of the very best Cavas have been produced from Champagne grapes
Cava – all styles

South Africa
For the very first time in three year two Cap Classique wines have matched the quality of a very good Champagne. In the first edition Nicky Krone achieved this with two vintages of Krone Borealis. This time Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck has done the same. Cap Classique has the potential to develop internationally, but it won’t do so until there are at least ten-times as many producers as there are now.
South Africa – all styles

United States
California was the first New World area in which a Champagne house set up a serious méthode champenoise operation, when Moët established Domaine Chandon in 1973. This state still leads the way, but with Washington and Oregon (not tasted this year) in the wings.
United States – all styles