Ready to say farewell to 2021 and hello to 2022? No New Year’s Eve celebration is complete without popping open a bottle of bubbly–but wouldn’t it be nicer if it was vegan or sustainably produced?
What makes a wine vegan?
Gelatin, derived from animal skin, bone and connective tissue, casein (a protein found in milk), egg whites, or isinglass (a protein from fish bladders), are all used by winemakers in a process called fining, which removes particles in the wine and makes the liquid clearer and fine before it is bottled. Vegan wines are “unfined” or use naturally occurring fining agents such as silica gel or plant-casein.
What does sustainably produced mean?
If a winery engages in practices that minimises its negative impact on earth, then it is considered sustainable. And although there currently is no international standard for this, certain winemaking regions, like Champagne, have vowed to become fully sustainable by 2030, with companies like Moët Hennessy investing €20 million in a scientific research centre devoted to environmentally friendly viticulture.
Sustainable practices include limiting the winery’s carbon footprint, eliminating the use of pesticide, reducing chemical waste, replanting crops to replace those harvested for production, saving energy and using recycled packaging.
Biodynamic wines take sustainability a step further, with the use of organic farming methods (no pesticides), homeopathic soil supplements, following a planting calendar based on astrological configurations, and generally treating the vineyard like a self-sustaining, living organism.
As wines aren’t always clearly labelled, it’s worth checking the winery’s website, or ask your trusted wine cellar whether your selection is vegan, sustainable or biodynamic.
It’s time to toast new beginnings with 8Shades’ selection of champagnes, and in case your December’s dry, we’ve also got a couple of non-alcoholic alternatives:
1. Dom Pérignon 2006 Pink Champagne
Full bodied with the scent of spice and cocoa, quickly transforming into roasted figs, apricots and orange jams, Dom Perignon’s 2006 Pink Champagne is vegan, and a delicate balance of sweet texture and strong flavour with a silky taste, best paired with traditional dishes from Italy, Spain and France. The winery’s sustainability practices include water waste management, minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions and protection of biodiversity.
2. Moët and Chandon Brut Imperial
Medium-bodied and well-balanced with flavours of apple, pear, citrus and freshly baked bread, the vegan Brut Imperial is Moët’s best selling champagne. The iconic maison has focused on minimising water waste as its top sustainability goal.
3. Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs
Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs is luminescent pale gold, tinged with hints of green. On the nose: Lively wild hedgerow flower aromas of elderberry, acacia and honeysuckle tangle and twist with notes of citrus fruit on the nose.
4. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label
The vegan Veuve Brut Yellow Label is a classic, with the nose bringing forth dried apricots, vanilla pods and brioche, and the first sip, delivering freshness but boldness, with fruit and creaminess on a long finish. Veuve Cliquot started its sustainability journey back in 1990 and met its carbon footprint objectives in 2002. It’s currently focused on reducing waste and emissions and finding new ways to make its viticultural practices more eco-friendly.
5. Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel
A bright, crisp, extra dry wine with notes of citrus, succulent grapes, apples and almonds, followed by intense fruitcake and nutiness. Piper-Heidsieck’s Essentiel is a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and meunier grapes. The house has had a soil replacement policy in place since 2005, where 50% of the vineyard is naturally weeded with the objective of increasing non-chemical weeding rates, and its vineyards have been distinguished “HVE” or high environmental values, acknowledging its efforts to become fully biodynamic.
6. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
With intense fresh fruit notes and a second floral nose with white flowers, this well rounded wine comes off fresh with a supple, harmonious texture on the palate. Aside from vegan practices, Maison Ruinart introduced its second-skin in 2020– 100 percent recyclable packaging that encases its blanc de blancs and rosé bottles, replacing the traditional heavy gift boxes. The house has also introduced solar panels and LED lighting, as well as a zero air-freight policy.
7. Krug Vintage 2006
This special vintage has a nose of yellow and dried fruit, toasted almonds, hazelnut, maple syrup and mandarin liqueur. On the palate, it is deep with a long finish and notes of nougat, pastry, tarte tatin and citrus like pink grapefruit. At Krug, no herbicides are used, and the house has focused on reducing its carbon footprint by using electric tractors. 100 percent of waste is recycled or recovered for energy.
8. Cristal Vintage 2012
Louis Roederer released its first organic and biodynamic champagne, the 2012 vintage of Cristal, in 2020. With notes of candied fruit mixed with white flowers, roasted hazelnut and Madgascar vanilla, Cristal 2012 reveals a silky, mouth-coating texture characteristic of the ripe Pinot noirs from that year.
Harvey Nichols Alcohol-Free Chardonnay
This vegetarian-friendly sparkling wine from de-alcoholised chardonnay grapes is a great alternative to champagne, with its refined mouthfeel and complexity of taste, bringing forth aromas of passion fruit, guava and mango, and finishing with a hint of citrus.
Fortnum & Mason’s Rosé Sparkling Tea
A blend of darjeeling and silver needle white tea with fresh Japanese sencha and fruity hibiscus tannings, this dry, sparkling tea is a great alternative to rosé, with a delightful blend of flavours and well-rounded, harmonious balance of 11 tea bases and various herbal ingredients.
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