Bubbles, pretty bubbles
Christmas is a distant memory, except perhaps when you look at your waistline and credit card bills, dry January is over and we have the Spring to look forward to with a few celebratory occasions on the horizon. And what marks a celebration or an occasion better than a glass of pretty bubbles? The pop of the cork, the whoooosh! of the fizzy liquid as it makes its first foray out of the bottle and into your glass, the prickle on the nose just before you take your first sip, all of these stimuli say “it’s an occasion.” And it seems that in the UK we really do appreciate the charms of sparkling wines with our appetite for bubbles increasing year on year.
While nothing comes close to a really good Champagne, nothing comes close to the price either. Next time you want to raise a glass without emptying your wallet you’ll find a range of really good alternatives available if you have a poke around your local independent merchant. There is an array of wonderful fizz out there, usually made in the same way as Champagne, and often using the same grapes. Here are a mere four.
Cave de Prissé Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noirs (£16.50)
Burgundian, traditionally made, 100% Pinot Noir gives this a rich, round mouthfeel, with berry notes offset by subtle toast.
Raventos i Blanc, De Nit 2012 (£21.55)
Using the traditional grapes of the region: Macabeu, Xarel·lo and Parellada, with Monastrell for colour and spice, this very classy Spanish wine is a marvellous colour of faded salmon pink. Small persistent bubbles, delicate strawberries and cream on the palate, bright with herbal notes and a lovely finish.
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Quartet (£25.95) 125 miles North of San Francisco, near the Mendocino coast with its cooling fog, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir combine to make a crisp and elegant wine with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavours. Fresh, lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavour.
Redfold Vineyards Ambriel Classic Cuvée (£28.25)
One of the UK’s newest sparklers, produced in West Sussex to much critical acclaim. A traditional blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with a green apple and sponge cake nose, lemon and shortcake biscuit flavours. It has lovely crisp acidity on the roof of the mouth and develops a smoothness and density a while after opening becoming noticeably more apply.
And where would we be without Prosecco, not made in the Champagne method, always using the grape, Glera. It is designed to be very fresh and fruity and a wholly different proposition to the bottle fermented examples above. The UK loves Prosecco and ours start at £9.95.