Australia’s new favourite Champagne

Australia is the sixth largest export market for Champagne in the world and we are becoming increasingly informed about the styles we enjoy.

Whether drinking Champagne in a restaurant or when entertaining at home, we are making more discerning choices and exploring a broader range of Champagne styles, from Blanc de Blanc to Blanc de Noir, Rose, Brut or the rapidly ascending low-dosage (or Brut Nature) category.

Sales of low-dosage Champagne are soaring in Australia. In 2021, 142,000 bottles of low-dosage bottles were exported here – 1.5% of total exported bottles. In 2022 that surged to 283,000 bottles (2.7% of total volume and 3.5% of value of our market).

“There has been an almost 100% increase in exports and now we are getting to the Champagne season in Australia it does not look like slowing down at all,” said Champagne Bureau Australia Director John Noble.

What is low-dosage Champagne?

The low-dosage category is identified in Champagne Bureau data as cuvees that have a dosage ‘less than brut’ and for definition this means that the dosage is either between 3g/l – 6g/l for Extra Brut or 3g/l and less for Brut Nature/Zero Dosage. Brut is defined as between 6g/l and 12g/l.

‘Dosage’ is simply a technical term for the final touch a winemaker will have on any Champagne cuvee and takes place after the disgorgement, where the dead yeast cells are expelled from the bottle. The liqueur de dosage is usually a mix of wine and sugar, but in the case of zero dosage it is only still wine that is used to top up the bottle.

There are a number of factors driving the popularity of low and no-dosage Champagne’s popularity in Australia, ranging from our al fresco lifestyle to our love of seafood and also wine professionals and sommeliers championing the style.

“The concept of what dosage does to a Champagne is all about balance and I think that a well-crafted Extra Brut or Brut Nature Champagne is appealing for the Australian palate in a number of ways,” said Noble.

“It is a Champagne style that is dry, light and fresh; it perfect as an aperitif; and, once you start to experiment with food pairings – the taste sensations are almost endless.

“I would say that anywhere Champagne is sold, if there is a passionate Champagne lover around, they will convince their customers to ‘try something new’ with their Champagne choices. These ‘prescriptors’ in an on-premise venue such as a bar or restaurant or a good retail store are also influencing the behaviour of Australian consumers to try these newer styles of Champagne.”

Paolo Saccone (above), director of wine at Etymon Projects, said the lower-dosage trend is growing at the group’s venues – The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar, Loulou Bistro and Tiva.

“We have noticed more guests asking about lower dosage Champagnes,” he said. “There’s a general growing preference for dryer styles of wine and also people are becoming much more knowledgeable about their wine.

“Lower dosage Champagnes offer excellent versatility when pairing with food and can complement delicate cheeses, seafood and even some desserts.”

Three low-dosage Champagnes to savour

Champagne Bureau Australia hosted a Champagne Masterclass this week featuring three low and no-dosage wines: Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2015 [Philippe Starck]; Bourgeouis Diaz B’DM Brut Nature; and Gosset Extra Brut NV.

“It was interesting to present a single bracket that focused on this category of Champagne, as it has grown so significantly in volume in a relatively short period of time,” said Noble.

“I thought some of the feedback showed that the wine professionals had really considered these styles of Champagne, and held some quite strong opinions – everything from the style being lighter and fresher in taste or that it was a simple aperitif or a perfect food wine and right through to the fact that there are less calories in a glass, which is actually true, but only about 6-10 calories per glass less than Brut Champagne.

“Our expert presenters used words like ‘austere’ and ‘restrained’ but I think once this style of Champagne is paired with food, it really starts to open up and get exciting. In Australia our dining styles are so varied – and I think that these lower dosage cuvees suit both our Aussie casual style of dining and the food we eat.

“Consider oysters – a glass of Brut Nature or Extra Brut Champagne would be a text book match with a juicy Sydney rock or Angasi oyster. The fatty, saline texture of the oyster is a perfect match to the mouth-watering minerality of any of the Champagnes we served last night.

“Many other types of food will go well with a lower dosage Champagne – delicate flavours and textures are the best. The fresh umami flavours of Vietnamese cuisine or classic fish and chips.

“In Japan, the trend for lower dosage Champagnes is very strong too. It makes up around 5% of the market and Japanese cuisine, especially sushi, is incredible match with a fresh and crisp Extra Brut Champagne.”   

Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2015 [Philippe Starck] was a distinctly minimalist wine, with a fresh, mineral backbone. The vintage was described as extraordinary due to a mild, wet winter and a hot, dry summer. The second half of August
brought some very welcome rain, which produced juicy, ripe and concentrated grapes. I love the way Starck describes it: “Taut and lively, bright and elegant. It is a Champagne of the daylight, of instant drinking pleasure.”

Cuvée BD’M was 100% Pinot Meunier from Bourgeois’ more ancient plots, on silt and clay soils principally. Organic and biodynamic, it featured a beautiful richness of fruit and earthiness. fruity and tight at the same time.

Gosset NV Extra Brut has been designed for drinkers who love lively champagnes. It features 32% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier. Extra-Brut dosage of 5 g/l preserves the balance between freshness, fruit and vinosity, without masking the wine’s character. It was a favourite among the experts at the masterclass, who described it has having a “beautiful caramelisation”.

Champagne tastes change in Australia

Success! You're on the list.

Categories: News

Tagged as: