Champagne alternatives give more bubbles for your buck

Tue Dec 2, 2008 8:34am EST
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Is recession making that Roederer Cristal Brut a bit too expensive at $300 a bottle?

If even the Gosset '99 Grand Brut Champagne, which sells for $85 a bottle, or Moet et Chandon '03 Brut at $65 is out of reach, some wine experts recommend that instead of opening their wallets wider, consumers try other sparkling wines.

"Champagne invented brand marketing and they did it 200 years ago," said Ross Wassermann, of Benson Marketing, a leading agency for the wine industry.

The world's most famous sparkling wines are made from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes, but Wassermann recommends several lesser-known varieties such as Samur or Vouvray from the Loire and the Saint Hilaire Limoux from the Languedoc-Roussillon regions.

"There is an argument to be made that a century before Dom Perignon discovered Champagne, the monks at Saint Hilaire were making sparkling wine," he said.

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut, which is made exclusively from Pinot Blanc grapes, and Domaine Lucien Albrecht, from France's Alsace region, have also earned high marks from wine experts.


In his latest book "1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die" British wine writer Hugh Johnson lists Italian sparkling wines from the Veneot regions or proseccos, such as Adami and Col Vetoraz and Bellenda and Zonin, along with the finest Champagnes.   Continued...

<p>Prosecco wine bottles are seen in a cellar in the Valdobbiadene valley, northern Italy, in this file photo taken October 25, 2005. P REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri</p>