The optimistic New Year's resolutions, wishes and wants will be at the forefront of most wine drinkers minds as the great day arrives.
I for one have a penchant for all things sparkling so it’s my pleasure to share with you a few bottles and styles you might wish to consider for the toast, party or event. Starting with the most popular of all Sparkling Wines of recent years, Prosecco the eponymous fun-laden fizz from Northern Italy. Born of smart marketing and attractive packaging, Prosecco has been a wild success over the past decade.
With spiraling costs on the high street it has kept its pricing to a steady affordability rather than something ‘off the clock’.
It’s affordability is defined by its speed of manufacture as the method of creating the bubbles is known as the Charmat method. This means the fermented juice that is sitting in vast tanks if then injected with measured yeast and sugars. After a temperature controlled of approximately a 6 week period the carbonisation of the wine is complete so a swift filter followed by bottling creates the sparkling wine.
After resting for a while the livery is attached and off to market it goes. Labeled as Brut would give a fruit-driven dry style which is most popular - as by using the grape Glera it makes Prosecco an aromatic style with a mint of ripeness.
Great as an aperitif, or with many lighter dishes it’s a perennial winner. At a recent winning tasting of Prosecco Rose from the ever reliable Coop Irresistible range at £9.00 was just the ticket to sip away to your heart's content.
Next on my fizz list is the Spanish sparkler Cava. Originating in and around the province of Catalonia. With the nearby bars and restaurants of Barcelona it became a sparkling wine of choice for all drinkers and diners. Created in 1872 copying the Champagne Method of bottle fermentation but using the local grapes Parellada, Xarel-Lo and Macabeo its fruit-forward style is created by nine months aging after fermentation. Such is its popularity in Spain (and elsewhere) that it is consumed with gusto on a daily basis. With regulations now allowing Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Trepet and Monastrell for the reds whilst Chardonnay and Malvasia are for the whites differing styles are now up for being explored.
A more aged style of Cava is also available under the Gran Reserva label plus districts other than Catalonia are also permitted to elaborate. All in all it’s a quality (Brut) sparkler that will also fit many occasions and as a base for adventurous cocktails. Offering v fine beads (bubbles) with elegant fruit notes find the excellent Juve & Camps Reserva £14.99 Majestic Wines.
Cremant is next and what a rise to fame it has enjoyed over the past 5 years or so as the popularity of the French alternative to Champagne shows no sign of abating. There are eight regions in France allowed to call this eponymous fizz by the name Crémant and offer regional styles of wine each with appellation controlled grapes of the region. The fun in Crémant is in discovering these styles as you ‘romp’ around France in search of your favourites.
Go to www.wickhamwines.co.uk to find Les Quarterons, Crémant de Loire NV at £19.99 mix six. This is an organic wine, hand-harvested from Chenin Blanc grapes with a minimum of 9 months on the lees whilst sleeping in cellar conditions. Expect that inimitable combination of cooked apple, a smidgen of honey and tangy acidity. Versatile and lovely.
On to English Sparkling Wine and a beaut from the Teign Valley in South Devon. Huxbear Classic Sparkling 2018 is a wine I have been following for a couple of vintages and can be sure that this regional sparkler is offering a unique note with its true finesse and style. Elaborated with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in full-sustainable stony vineyards, this elegant drop is aged for 24 months before bottling, labeling and release. 2018 was a ripe-fruited year that beats its heart in the bottle! Do secure this amazing bargain fizz at just £22.99 mix six. www.wickhamwines.co.uk
Champagne brings up the rear with J M Gremillet NV Growers Champagne - whole grown and managed on family vineyards, created and aged in their cellars. With a large chunk of Pinot Noir in the blend expect a gentle spice embodied in the mousse of the wine. This is a moreish fruit-driven Champagne most suitable with and without food but do try with spicy Tapas for an aperitif treat? Value and originality are this Champagne’s hallmark. Go to www.christopherpiperwines.co.uk for availability - £31.80 for 75cl.
I hope this eclectic selection finds approval with y’all for this year’s New Years celebrations - I look forward to scribing my Wine Column for all readers in the new year. HNY
Stephen Barrett is a Wine and Food Writer based in Plymouth Stephen welcomes correspondence via his website www.stephenbarrett.com Facebook and LinkedIn as Stephen Barrett, Twitter and Instagram as @bistrowineman