Forget Christmas and New Year, summer is the finest time of the year to drink sparkling wine. Here we round up the best offerings from France, England, Italy and beyond for your sipping pleasure.
1. Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Brut ‘Sous Bois’ Champagne, 12%: £60, Berry Bros & Rudd
This champagne is vinified entirely in oak, which is the original method of the champenois, and it is this that gives it its wonderful complexity and richness. This is a serious champagne with a flavour which takes in brioche and vanilla, and even a bit of toffee.
2. Ruinart Champagne Brut, 12%: £39.95, 31DOVER
Founded by Nicolas Ruinart in 1729, Ruinart is the oldest house to produce just champagne, and it maintains the bulbous bottle shape of that time to this day. It is chardonnay-heavy with a certain dryness that makes it very good with fish or light meats.
3. Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvee Rosé, 12%: £44.24, Ocado
This rosé from renowned house Laurent Perrier is famous for both its salmon pink colour – the result of the maceration technique used – and rich, redcurrant nose. It is deeply complex and fresh on the palate, and rightly revered.
4. Nyetimber 2009 Blanc de Blancs, 12%: £43, Harvey Nichols
Nyetimber was the first to make English sparkling wine from the ‘champagne grapes’ – chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier – 25 years ago. This wine is a blanc de blancs, 100 per cent chardonnay (using grapes from its own vineyards) and displays all the skill acquired in those two and half decades. It develops from mildly citrus to a pastry richness and then a touch of minerality. ‘Best in Class’ at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2015.
5. Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec Champagne, 12%: £41.99, Ocado
Demi-sec was first produced for the Russian Court in the 19th Century. The Tsarists liked their wines sweet, and the extra sugar added during dosage is still evident today in this wine. Made from a blend of 50 wines, it is rich in brioche candied fruits.
6. Pol Roger Brut Reserve Champagne, 12.5%: £39.99, Amazon
This medium-bodied wine, from Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne house, is fruity, youthful and full of zing. It is an elegant drink with equal parts pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, and we love it.
7. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne, 11%: £47.50, Fortnum & Mason
When you first taste this it seems to surge over your taste buds in a citrus flood, but then it changes – becoming a little more peachy, which is then succeeded by hints of brioche. It is satisfying and fulsome and a delightful straw colour, the result of reserve wines which are added.
8. Follador Prosecco DOCG Torri di Credazzo, 11.5%: £14.99, Waitrose Cellar
This medium-bodied Prosecco hails from a single vineyard in the Veneto called Torri di Credazzo and is particularly fine with pasta or shellfish. It is light, and with floral notes and touches of apple and peach. An easy-drinker.
9. Graham Beck ‘The Rhona’ Brut, 12%: £15, Marks & Spencer
Lime, crème brûlée, brioche – this 100 per cent chardonnay sparkler from South Africa is a riot of flavours. It is partially vinified in oak by winemaker Pieter Ferreira, so is unusually rich in character, especially given its relatively modest price tag.
10. Cremant du Jura, 12%: £7.49, Aldi
This 2012 sparkling wine from Aldi is yet another success story for the discount retailer, having now won more medals than Matthew Pinsent. From Jura in France, it is citrus-rich and zingy, with touches of apple, and a pleasing acidity.
Top of the pops is Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Brut ‘Sous Bois’ Champagne, an elegant champagne made in an elegant fashion by a superb house – we love it. If you are throwing a party and want some inexpensive but reliable sparkling wine, head to Aldi for a case of Cremant du Jura.
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