Anthony Rose: 'I'm not surprised that we're drinking a lot more affordable fizz'
I don't as a rule find wine trade reports a riveting read but one line that caught the eye recently was "five million people in the UK drink sparkling wine at least once a week". I wasn't surprised to see that not only are we the biggest guzzlers of Champagne outside France, but that we're also drinking a lot more affordable fizz from elsewhere.
It stands to reason. It's not just that we all want the good life but don't necessarily have the budget to keep ourselves in the style to which we'd like to be accustomed. As much to the point, sparkling wines around the globe have improved beyond measure. In California, New Zealand and Australia, it's often been the result of champagne know-how and investment while in the case of cava and prosecco, it's the domestic industries doing the pulling up of the bootstraps.
Prosecco is popular because of its reasonable price and the instant appeal of fresh pear-like sweetness. The saccharine appeal can pall with more than one glass but it doesn't have to. Tesco's Finest Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, £7.99, down from £9.99 until 30 April, manages the apple and pear flavours with an appealing freshness and a crisp sherbety tang to the finish that creates a mouthwatering impression of dryness.
Cava is another region that's much improved through better technology and savoir-faire. At the most recent Marks & Spencer tasting, I was immensely impressed with the Organic Okhre Cava Brut Nature NV, £9.99, not just for its lemony aromatics but a mouthwatering mousse of richly nutty fruit.
I'm a fan, too, of the fragrant pinot noir-scented and strawberryish 1 + 1 =3 Rosé Selecció* Cava U Mes U Fan Tres, £11.99, champagnewarehouse.com. And I am seriously impressed with the complexity of Gramona's cavas, notably the 2007 Brut Nature Gran Reserva, £16.95, Berry Bros & Rudd (0800 280 2440), whose appley fizz with its richly developed bouquet is a stylish, food-friendly sparkler.
The country that's most rapidly gaining plaudits for its thrilling sparkling wines is our very own green and pleasant land. To whet the appetite for more, you might try the youthful orchard-fruit bubbles of Mike Roberts and family's exceptional, dry 2009 Ridgeview Merret South Ridge Brut, £19,99, Laithwaites or Chapel Down's English Sparkling Rosé NV, £22, Marks & Spencer, with its fine depth of tangy cranberry fruit. Until English fizz dances to the tunes of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, let these be your harbingers of a summer of flag-waving euphoria.
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