Outside of Champagne, the term Pinot Noir Chardonnay is the name now used to describe a sparkling wine. With the European Union protecting the rights of wine producing regions, including the region in France known as, Champagne, (and rightly so), sparkling wine is also commonly called a Pinot Chardonnay, based on the fact that a sparkling wine is produced from these two grape varieties.
Don't be fooled, the quality, texture and taste of a Pinot Chardonnay can be just as alluring and exciting as any Champagne. Most Pinot Chardonnays are produced in the same way as many of the French Champagnes.
Even well known champagne distributors like Moet and Chandon have a few hidden Pinot Chardonnay gems hidden amongst their lists. Some are produced in a fine estate in the prestigious wine growing area of the Yarra Valley of Australia.
New Zealand has also carved a reputation for producing some great 'Sparklers' with many originating from the North Island.
There has also been some spectacular successes (and failures) over the years during the experimentation with various grape varities. The most common types of grapes used in experimentation are Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz. There is a good reason that you don't find a Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay. However, the combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the sparkling fermentation process has resulted in a great success.
Pinot Chardonnay has proven to be a winner at social outings such as picnics and BBQ's, which has led them to be sold in 200ml and 375ml bottles. The technological advances of late have allowed sparkling varieties to be as versatile as still wines with packaging and delivery.
As icing on the cake, Pinot Chardonnays are also much cheaper than their French champagne competitors, delivering the same great taste at a fraction of the price.
See if your friends can taste the difference and set up a blind taste test this weekend – you'll probably be very surprised!
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