There’s a lot of talk these days about “grower champagnes,” sparkling wines made in the Champagne region by the grape growers themselves (see my backgrounder). In all the rush to talk about this farmer fizz, the fact that growers also make bubbly outside of Champagne sometimes gets lost.
When I was in Argentina earlier this year, I tried some of the local bubbly. Moet controls the Argentine market for bubbly through its local subsidiary. In fact, their local label has risen to a level of brand awareness on par with Kleenex and Xerox. Instead of asking for a glass of “champagne” Argentines mostly ask for a glass of “Chandon.”
The sparkling wines made at the Mendoza Chandon winery serve many Latin American markets but don’t ever go north of Panama. Domaine Chandon in Napa provides American domestic sparklers to the US market alongside the Champagne brands in the LVMH portfolio such as Moet, Veuve Clicquot, and Krug.
In Argentina, Pascual Toso plays the Avis of the bubbly market to Moet’s Hertz. This family-owned company has been making wine since 1880 and now provides something like five percent of the bubbly to the Argentine domestic market. But unlike Chandon Argentina, which you would have to go there to taste, Toso brut is exported to the US. It is a blanc des blancs made of chardonnay and chenin blanc. If you’re looking for a bargain bubbly, to stock for a large party or simply for a break on the budget, the Toso retails for between $6-8 in the US (find this wine). Light in color, with notes of yeasty brioche, it’s some farmer fizz that will add bubbles to your budget.