Love prosecco but feel like branching out? There are some stunning sparkling wines out there, if you know where to look…
Hard as it is to imagine a time before prosecco was the go-to glass of fizz, it’s only in the last 10 years or so that the wine has become ubiquitous on pub and bar menus across the UK.
And it’s popular for a reason: it’s an accessibly priced, easily available touch of luxe that happens to taste pretty good (usually).
But as well as sparking fears of a shortage (though it’s been worried about for years and we don’t seem to have run out yet), our prosecco obsession may have also resulted in us missing out on some other stellar sparkling wines.
Insiders have been tipping Franciacorta as the Next Big Thing for some time, while Hungarian Tokaji is slowly but surely making appearances in our supermarkets. Not heard of either? That’s why we asked industry experts to recommend some lesser-known bottles of fizz – all in the name of expanding our palates, of course.
From English sparkling to classic Cremant, there’s an unusual and distinctive wine here to suit any occasion – and they start at just £6.99. Just file it under ‘education’…
1. Krusrus Tokaji Doux
Anna Krettmann, wine buyer at Lidl, says: “The Tokaji Doux is something of a revelation from Hungary - a rare, medium-sweet sparkling wine from Tokaji, which is refreshing and highly appetising. The flavours of toast and baked apple make this a satisfying aperitif.”
2. Blanquette de Limoux
Tesco’s sparkling wine developer, Alexandra Runciman, says: “This is sparkling that the experts drink. Opt for a Cremant or Blanquette for real value for money. Our Tesco Finest Blanquette de Limoux is made in exactly the same way as champagne (it’s just not grown there) and produces a fizz that is fresh and crisp with crunchy green apple and toasty flavours. If pink is more your thing, try the Cremant de Limoux Rosé (£11) brimming with strawberry, raspberry and toasted brioche flavours.”
3. Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2012
Kristiane Sherry, Master of Malt editor, says: “English sparkling wines are well worth exploring. Most vineyards in the south of England share a limestone rock bed with their cousins in the Champagne region, and many use identical production methods. As a result you can expect the same elegant, yeasty complexity, now regularly beating champagne in blind tastings. We love Gusbourne’s Blanc de Blancs 2012, a 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine bursting with fresh apple and citrus notes, underscored with that classic buttered toast character.”
4. Allini Bardolino Chiaretto
Lidl’s Krettmann explains: “With all the drinkability of rosé but with added sparkle, the Bardolino Chiaretto is crisp and appetising with lovely redcurrant aromas, pairing well with smoked salmon canapés. This will particularly appeal to those looking for a drier version of prosecco.”
5. Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Rosé
Lydia Harrison, educator for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), says: “A splash of Pinot Noir with the Chardonnay makes this Hampshire wine pink and adds notes of blossom and strawberries. Just the ticket for that Christmas morning breakfast.”
6. Allini Pinot Grigio Veneto Spumante
Lidl wine buyer Krettmann says: “For a delicate alternative to prosecco, the Pinot Grigio Veneto Spumante is a surprising sparkling white which can be enjoyed as an aperitif. This wine is fresh, citrus-scented, off-dry and satisfying. Pinot Grigio is planted in the cooler vineyards of northern Italy and so is ideally suited to making good sparkling wine.
Tesco’s Runciman explains: “This is for the true prosecco lovers – step up your Italian sparkling game with a premium version. Sparkling wine has been produced in Franciacorta since the 16th century. Our Tesco Finest Franciacorta is produced in same way as champagne and results in a lemony fresh sparkling, with ripe fruit and notes of brioche complexity and richness. Perfect as an aperitif or with seafood.”
8. La Battagliola Lambrusco Dosage 15
Muriel Chatel, founder of Borough Wines, says: “Lambrusco has a bad reputation, but it’s due a revival. Perhaps the greatest fizz there is for alongside nibbles like charcuterie, or – and it sounds a bit wild, but works brilliantly – oysters. This is rich and frothy with blackberry and plum notes, as well as some dark spice. Quite complex and rich, but with a wonderfully fresh finish. And, of course, dry!”
9. Champagne Bourgeois Diaz 3C
Borough Wines’ Chatel says: “There are some real gems to be found if you look beyond the big houses in Champagne and there’s one style that is particularly interesting – grower Champagnes. These are smaller estates where everything, from grape growing to blending, is handled in-house. This one is particularly special, as it’s also biodynamic (one step up from organic). It boasts an expressive nose, with notes of nuts and fresh almonds. On the palate, it is very well-balanced, with delicate bubbles and a soft freshness on the finish.”
10. Chapel Down Brut NV
WSET’s Harrison says: “This wine is made from the classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and is made in the traditional method, just like Champagne. Crisp apple balanced with creamy notes make this a perfect party wine and great value too.”
If you’d like to learn more about WSET courses at English wineries, visit wsetglobal.com