Anthony Rose: Prosecco sales are booming but is it more popular than Champagne?

 

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Indy Lifestyle Online

According to a report in AN Other newspaper this summer, thrifty Britons are not just opting for cheap fizz but also claiming that "prosecco tastes just as good as champers".

It's true that prosecco sales are bursting through the roof but does that mean it's "nearly twice as popular as Champagne", as the paper claims? Take the hype with a large pinch of salt, bearing in mind that most prosecco sells on price. I doubt that the champenois are having too many sleepless nights when they're selling 300 million bottles a year. But I'm all for looking at alternatives when summertime calls for a refreshing glass of fizz.

It's no secret that I am not prosecco's numero uno fan. I generally find its hefty dose of sugar and toad's-eye bubbles too coarsely cloying: although, that said, I can see its virtues when you use it as a base for a Bellini and other summery concoctions. I was pleasantly surprised recently when Alessandro Marchesan, head wine honcho of the Zuma group, showed me the stylish, dry Merotto Cuvée del Fondatore Brut Millesimato, £16.50, Vinitalia. I then tried another excellent example, the creamy and pear-like, crisp Nino Franco Prosecco Rustic, £14, Sommelier's Choice.

Equally, I can take or leave most of your common or garden cava, so it's always a delight to experience one that explodes expectations. A good example is the 2010 Llapart Rosé Brut Reserva, Borough Wines, made from monastrell and garnacha and, while not given away at £17, is packed with the flavours and also the textures of raspberry mousse and crème chantilly.

On a recent trip to Portugal for its annual wine competition, I was amazed at how much its sparkling wines have improved in recent years. Check out how good it can be with a taste of the 2013 Filipa Pato 38 Blanc de Blancs, Bairrada, £15, Oddbins, a fresh, delicately nutty Champagne-method fizz with rich, mouth-filling mousse and juicy peachy flavours.

Sticking with Oddbins, the revitalised high-street chain also has a fine French fizz from Burgundy in the shape of the Bichot Crémant de Bourgogne Reserve Privée, £17.50, Oddbins; a vinous sparkler – whose vanilla-cream aromas are supported by a creamy mousse with nectarine – is dry and nutty. In other fizz news, the stalwart of Bouvet-Ladubay from the Loire is nicely back on form, as witnessed by a crisp, apple-bitey Bouvet-Ladubay Brut, £13.49, buy two = £8.49, Majestic. And its pink counterpart, the soft summer pudding-fruity Bouvet Saumur Rosé, £13.49, buy two = £8.49, from Tuesday, Majestic. Last but not least, an old Kiwi favourite: the stylish, Champagne-esque Lindauer Special Reserve, £15.99, Waitrose, Majestic, buy two = £10.66, from Tuesday.

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