When it comes to choosing a bubbly for celebrating this Christmas or indeed for ushering in the New Year, we have lots of different wines on offer to suit all tastes and budgets, so to help you make your selection I have picked out a few delicious examples below.
To break it down, there are three categories into which most sparkling wines fall; Prosecco and similar wines, Champagne lookalikes and Champagne itself.
The soft, gentle peach and pear fruit of Prosecco and its relatively low acidity make it the perfect party sparkler. Alcohol is usually around the 11 or 11.5% mark so it is not particularly heady and best of all these are generally the keenest-priced of all sparkling wines, so no need to break the bank!
Our Proseccos range in price from 2 for €20 (Arcobello Frizzante) up to €18.95 (Mionetto Treviso) but my own personal favourite is Rizzardi Prosecco Spumante (€17.95), this class-act is from a multi-award winning winemaker/owner, Giuseppe Rizzardi. Very pure in its fruit profile, incredibly fresh and lively with a long, refreshingly dry finish but still soft enough to enjoy without food.
Many parts of the wine world employ the traditional or “Champagne” method to create a sparkle in their wines. Without getting too technical this method results in finer bubbles and more complexity than sparkling wines made by other methods. The better are versions come from cooler climate zones in France (Crémant), Spain (Cava), New Zealand, etc. and they will have extended bottle age. The advantage of many of these over Champagne - besides a lower price tag - is their softer acidity and their fruitiness, making them accessible without the need for food.
Owned by Bollinger Champagne since 1973, Crémant de Loire house, Langlois-Chateau has always been recognized as one of the best sparkling wine producers. Their delicious l’Extra par Langlois (€17.95 or 3 for €50) is made in a very contemporary and accessible fresh and fruity style. Crisp and dry with notes of ripe pear and citrus. Above all this wine offers a great-value alternative to Champagne.
Made by the leading producer Codorniu, La Rosca (€14.95) is an excellent example of modern Cava; bright, aromatic apple and pear fruit, very fine thread of bubbles and just a hint of biscuit and toast from bottle age. Drink with or without food but brilliant with Tapas.
Sometimes only the best will do and although there are some amazing sparkling wines in the world nothing can trump good Champagne. The wines from France’s northerly Champagne region achieve an elegance and finesse unique in the world of bubbles. The important thing is to remember is that Champagne is at its best with food, so make sure there are plenty of nibbles to accompany it.
Beaumont des Crayères (€29.95) is a top-notch Champagne from a small collection of growers specializing in low production, high quality wines. Beaumont is made in a generous, toasty style with lots of toasty brioche and hazelnut notes on a creamy, rich palate.
To finish my selection, I am going with one of my favourite wines of all still or sparkling! Bollinger Special Cuvée (€55.00) is rich and full in style with lots of rich yeasty, biscuity flavour and thrilling apple/pear fruit, little wonder it is considered one of the very best non-vintage Champagnes.