Our expert’s top sparkling wines for summer 2018

PUBLISHED: 14:43 09 July 2018

Will we need to crack open the bubbly after tonight's England match?  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Will we need to crack open the bubbly after tonight's England match? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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With the summer sparkling wine season in full swing, Jeremy Dunn, chief wine tutor at Norfolk Wine School, explains why sparkling wine is more versatile than you might think and recommends a fizz for every occasion.

Traditionally served at weddings, sparkling wine is no longer seen as just for special occasions. Brits bought more fizz in 2017 than ever before as more and more people entertain at home. It’s very food-friendly and gives any gathering a celebratory feel. This year looks like it will be another record year for sparkling wine sales as corks are popping at barbecues, garden parties and picnics across the region during the current burst of good weather.

Whether we have reached ‘peak prosecco’ remains to be seen, but prosecco is still a great choice for any informal celebration. Its light and lively, fresh, fruity style makes it a great choice for any impromptu garden party. One of my favourites is Romeo and Julia Prosecco, £11.99, Majestic Wine. It’s slightly off-dry and pours with a lovely soft, frothy mousse.

I hope that the new renaissance in sparkling wine encourages us to re-discover Cava, Spain’s traditional sparkling wine style. It’s bottle-fermented (the method used to make Champagne) and my current favourite is The Society’s Exhibition Cava, The Wine Society, £8.75. Made with traditional Spanish grapes plus a dash of Chardonnay, this rounds out the palate nicely and the wine spends a long time ageing on its lees which creates a very yeasty, complex style. A bargain for less than £9.

Crémant is another good quality, affordable fizz. Crémant is the generic term for a bottle fermented French sparkling wine (but not from the Champagne region). Jura is an up-and-coming region in eastern France and ALDI’s Crémant du Jura 2015, made from 100% Chardonnay, has notes of baked apple and brioche, and is an absolute bargain at £7.99. Another wine to look out for is Le Caves Des Hautes Cotes Crémant De Bourgogne, £12 at M&S. It’s made using mostly Pinot Noir and is very different in style, more floral and very elegant with a lovely long crisp finish. Perfect paired with canapes, especially smoked salmon.

Still in France, another food-friendly wine is made by the Loire Valley’s biggest producer of bottle fermented sparkling wine, Bouvet. Their Bouvet Ladubay Saumur Rosé is a delicate salmon pink colour and has lots of deliciously crunchy redcurrant and cranberry fruit. This is a very grown-up sparkling rosé and would work well at a barbecue, providing a contrast to the slightly caramelised flavours of griddled meats. Majestic Wine £12.99.

If Champagne is your thing and you want to celebrate in style, I was reminded at a recent tasting just how good Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier tastes. This family-owned Champagne house is famous for ageing some of the wine used in their Brut Premier style in oak creating a complex wine of great character and finesse. It retains an elegance and a freshness, but has gentle toasty notes and a rich, round fruity palate. Widely available around £42.

Recently I visited Chet & Waveney Valley vineyard, in Bergh Apton and tasted their sparkling wine, Horatio Blanc de Blancs 2015, that hit the headlines by winning a Bronze medal in Decanter’s 2018 World Wine Awards. It’s made in the same way as Champagne but with traditional cool climate grape varieties which give it a very attractive fruity style reminiscent of crisp, orchard-fresh red apples complemented by a gently yeasty complexity. This is Chet & Waveney Valley’s 1st vintage and stocks are limited so pick up your bottle at either Jarrold’s or Harper Wells for around £28. Pack a bottle with your picnic or enjoy in the garden with friends.

Learn more about the secrets behind prosecco’s success at Norfolk Wine School’s prosecco tasting presented by guest speaker Neil Phillips, aka The Wine Tipster, on Friday, July 20.

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