We’re beginning to see the odd cloud in the sky, with an early morning feel of Autumn on the horizon, but in Britain we’re still making the most of our summer. Choosing a sparkling wine for our warmer months can be a bit like deciding where to go on holiday. For some this might be a laborious task, whilst for others it might be a simple dart to that favourite bottle. In a nutshell we’re really spoilt for choice and whatever the budget, there’s something for everyone.
The likes of Cava, Champagne and the ever popular Prosecco may dominate the market, but there are plenty of other exciting choices waiting to be discovered by the consumer. Sparkling wine adds that finishing touch to any occasion, whether you prefer the easy fruity charm of Prosecco or rich and opulent vintage Champagne.
On a warm summers day, once you’ve cleaned up and located a spot in the shade for the garden furniture, there is nothing better than the sound of a cork popping on a bottle of fizz.
Prosecco currently remains the wine of the moment having come a long way, considering it was almost unheard-of two decades ago. Produced in large pressurised tanks, nothing to do with the military I must add, it offers major producers huge benefits when it comes to both labour and cost. Then there is Cava, the Spanish sparkling sipper from Catalonia. Still popular with those enjoying the sun on the Iberian peninsular, it’s made by the same labour-intensive method as Champagne but using different grapes, and can deliver the same amount of finesse and complexity.
Champagne continues to be in demand with sales of €1.4bn across Europe, but producers in countries such as South Africa, Australia and the USA are producing examples, often using popular grape varieties associated with champagne to offer additional options for wine lovers to whet their appetite.
With such a diverse selection available to us, here are my top choices to add a touch of sparkle to your summer:
Mirabeau La Folie Rosé, France.
Hailing from Luberon in central Provence and produced using a blend of Syrah and Grenache, this delightful and delicious sparkling rosé is produced using the same method as Prosecco. This results in a fizz which overflows with fresh strawberry and raspberry notes, complimented with hints of gooseberry and blackcurrant. The perfect partner for an afternoon with friends.
Graham Beck Brut NV, South Africa.
Chosen as the official sparkling wine for Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, and also by the Obama’s in 2008, this rich and elegant example is one of Graham Beck’s benchmark sparklers and a popular choice for many. Produced using a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir the palate is bursting with fresh fruit, interwoven with light yeasty aromas and a soft, creamy complexity. Match with shellfish, chicken or well-chilled on its own.
Les Dauphins Blanc de Blancs NV, France.
This delicious sparkling wine comes from a well regarded and consistent producer, who already have a large following for their popular still wines. Made entirely from white grapes, it has a beautiful citrus zing and a gentle fruitiness, making this an ideal fizz for parties and celebrations.
Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Pruno Nero NV, Italy.
Think red Lambrusco and many of us conjure up memories of the sweet, frothy and cheap fizz with a screw cap, often consumed at family celebrations. However there are more sophisticated examples heralding from Italy, turning heads at the same time. Fresh and vibrant in its approach, this fizz is bursting with bramble and hedgerow fruit flavours and a wonderful herby, liquorice spice. Wonderful with duck or poultry.
This lightly sparkling apéritif is a fabulously refreshing blend of aromatic elderflower, zesty lemon and cool mint with a splash of fino sherry to add a sophisticated twist. If you’re on the search for a light, fun and innovative drink then this may well be your answer. Serve chilled over ice with a twist of lemon peel and fresh basil.
Codorníu ‘1872’ Vintage Cava, Spain.
This fresh and crisp sparkling wine made from local Spanish grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada) displays attractive flavours or citrus and apple, together with honey and toasty aromas. Produced using grapes from a single harvest, hence the word vintage, it is the perfect choice for pairing with tapas and fish dishes.