Popping the cork on a great bottle of bubbly instantly turns any given moment into a special occasion - whether you’re celebrating Valentines Day, banishing Dry January, or simply toasting the fact that it’s Friday!
And, while Champagne has a timeless aura of indulgence, there are many other options which are just as delicious in their different ways. From bubbles on a budget, to stylish sparkling wines and zero alcohol alternatives, it’s time to think outside the box when it comes to fizz.
So, without further ado, here’s our pick of the best champagne alternatives to elevate any occasion. Cheers!
English Sparkling Wine
British bubbles continue to get better and better, vying with Champagne in international competitions and bringing talented winemakers from all over the world to these shores.
While counties like Kent and Hampshire get a lot of attention, our local Cornish vineyards aren’t to be out done, producing some outstanding sparkling wines.
Knightor Classic Cuvée is a blend of Reichensteiner, Chardonnay, Huxelrebe, Kerner, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Seyval Blanc. With its classic ‘English country garden’ aromas of elderflower, honeysuckle and pear, and a crisp refreshing finish, we regularly recommend this for wedding toasts.
Camel Valley’s Rosé Brut is 100% Pinot Noir and resplendent with aromas of wild strawberries and raspberries, with a pure, refreshing finish. There’s nothing better than a glass of this award-winning English fizz and a Cornish cream tea (jam first of course)!
Crémant de Loire
Crémant is a style of sparkling wine made in several different regions of France, including the Loire. Made in the same ‘methode traditionelle’ as Champagne, Crémant de Loire is usually dominated by Chenin Blanc - an age-worthy grape with vibrant crisp apple notes when young.
Just like Champagne, the secondary fermentation in bottle imparts rich, yeasty, and biscuity notes, and so the best Crémant de Loire can develop a honeyed, nutty, ‘crumble topping’ flavour profile.
Out top tip is the beautiful Crémant de Loire from Domaine de Landreau. This poised and elegant sparkling wine is zippy and refreshing, but with a richness and complexity from two years aging on lees to develop the flavours.
Cava is another European fizz - from Spain this time - made in a very similar way to Champagne in that secondary fermentation happens in the bottle. Wine journos regularly recommend Cavas for their superb quality and great value.
Dominio de la Vega is a pioneering vineyard 70 km west of Valencia where vines at around 700 metres altitude are organically cultivated and the harvest is done by hand. This care and attention sees a real sense of place imparted into the wines.
Cavas from Dominio de la Vega age for between 12 and 24 months on lees, and the results are silky and elegant, with fine bubbles and beautifully balanced flavour profiles. We stock the excellent value No.1 Cava, plus a Reserva Especial and the Especial Rosé which are perfect for special occasions.
We’re never ones to turn our noses up at a good Prosecco! While it may not have the flavour subtleties of a Champagne, Crémant or Cava, Prosecco is ideal for uplifting the everyday.
In Prosecco production, the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks rather than in the bottle, which means those complex yeasty, bready flavours don’t emerge. Many people actually prefer this cleaner style to Champagne, especially as an aperitif.
The Old Chapel team are fans of Bella Modella Prosecco Spumante for its crisp, refreshing taste. Ripe apple and citrus fruits zip across the palate, leaving you with the sensation that your day has got significantly better. Manual harvesting and soft pressing of the grapes ensures all the best qualities are captured, and thoroughly modern winemaking techniques give a clean, refined finish.
Cutting out the alcohol needn’t mean going bubble-free, and the world of ‘no and low’ fizz is offering some great choices these days.
The best examples start with the same high-quality grapes as regular wines (in the case of French Bloom, we’re talking organic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes) which are then dealcoholized through one of a number of high-tech methods. Other ingredients might be added for their health-giving qualities, and these zero alcohol wines tend to be much lower in calories.
We’re proud to stock French Bloom’s Blanc and Rosé bubbles, the creation of two female entrepreneurs who saw a gap in the market for sophisticated, zero alcohol fizz made with premium grapes. French Bloom was named ‘World’s Best Alcohol-Free’ bubbly at the 2023 World Sparkling Wine Awards.