Ten sparklers to bring in the bells. a good new year to you all.
OLD WORLD FIZZ
LE DOLCI COLLINE PROSECCO NV Claudio Manera
(£9.99, Virgin Wines, www.virginwines.co.uk)
Prosecco sales are booming in the UK – and no wonder – the lightness, delicacy and gentle mousse of the best proseccos are so attractive. Prosecco also has slightly less alcohol (11.5 per cent) than other sparklers, so it is ideal for Hogmanay’s long night of celebrations. Claudio Manera’s prosecco beat off stiff competition from more expensive bottles in our line up. A fizz to please all.
ALDI’S CREMANT DE JURA 2010 Philippe Michel
There is no better chardonnay fizz at this price. Citric, creamy with a length as fine as its price. From the little known Jura region, just east of Burgundy, it shares similarities with its more famous neighbour. Made by the same method as champagne with the same chardonnay grape – but on offer at a fraction of champagne prices. Perfect for parties or serving with the smoked salmon.
CREMANT DE LOIRE ROSÉ 2010 Langlois Chateau
This is a finely made rosé from cabernet franc grapes. Langlois Chateau is owned by Champagne Bollinger – and currently the finest cremant producers in the Loire. Light strawberry notes, crisp and very dry finish. Langlois’ standard cremant is also good: available in Majestic Wine at £12.99 (each for 2 bts).
CAMEL VALLEY BRUT 2010
(£24.99, Waitrose; Berry Bros & Rudd)
This is what our family will be celebrating with this Hogmanay to remind us of our fabulous visit to Bob and Annie Lindo’s sunny vineyard in Bodmin – and to celebrate their bumper Cornish harvest after our unusually sunny British summer. With hedgerow blossom and floral notes, this is a clean, delicate, refreshing fizz with elegant length.
NYETIMBER CLASSIC CUVÉE 2008
(£29.99, Waitrose; £23.98 each for 2, Majestic Wine; Berry Bros & Rudd)
Nyetimber in West Chiltingdon in Sussex was the first to plant chardonnay and pinot noir grapes and copy the same method of making champagne – and astounded us all with the results back in the 1990s. Nyetimber might be more expensive than other UK fizz, but there is an extra fruit intensity, creamy complexity and length here. The first vintage is beautifully made by their Canadian winemaker, Cherie Spriggs.
NEW WORLD FIZZ
Marlborough, New Zealand
PELORUS BRUT NV Cloudy Bay
(£15.98 each for 2, or £23.99, Majestic Wine; £19.99, Waitrose; Luvians; Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)
Pelorus is the one to beat for all those wannabe New World fizz makers. Citric, biscuit, rich creamy length – it always impresses. I do prefer their vintage cuvée, but with its price edging higher I cannot afford it now – but its non-vintage cuvée has definitely improved in quality in recent years.
Robertson, South Africa
GRAHAM BECK BRUT NV
Graham Beck has a superb modern winery in Robertson, where the lime soils are perfect for giving chardonnay and pinot noir plenty of natural high acidity – crucial when making good quality fizz. They ferment a third of the blend in 205 litre barrels to add richness – with second fermentation in bottle as in champagne. Very attractive and reasonable at its current price.
THE REAL THING
CHAMPAGNE VEUVE MONSIGNY BRUT NV Philizot & Fils
(£9.99, on offer in Aldi)
Another little Aldi triumph. Aldi’s wine buyer Mike James might be an expert on butterflies and biking, but he certainly can pick a good bargain fizz cuvée. Light, creamy with a modest length – but what can you expect at this price? It scooped silver medals at this year’s international wine competitions beating other supermarket champagnes.
CHAMPAGNE POL ROGER ‘PURE’ EXTRA BRUT NV
Pol Roger is still my favourite champagne house for pure, citric, sparkling joy – Pol Roger is one of the few independent houses left and one of the few which has perfected the ‘Pure’ nil dosage style. The key is apparently to select grapes from warmer vineyards and mature a little longer. A little drier than Pol Roger’s normal Brut, but effortlessly elegant.
CHAMPAGNE TAITTINGER VINTAGE 2003
(£40, Luvians, www.luvians.com)
Snap up what is left of this beautiful, toasty, rich, vintage Taittinger. It was a tricky, hot, vintage in 2003, so this bubbly will not last long in the cellar as the grapes lacked essential acidity – but for current drinking, there is no other vintage champers out there to beat it at this price.
• Join Rose’s Beginners Wine Courses in Edinburgh starting 29 January, from £36, www.rosemurraybrown.com