There’s so much focus on Prosecco these day when we’re looking for a good value sparkling wine that we often forget about the joys of Cava. This cuvée of mostly Chardonnay with 10% each of the three local grapes – Parellada, Xarelo-lo and Macabeo – is complex, dry, energetic and well-balanced, with fine bubbles, notes of pear, citrus and fennel and a long, faintly savoury finish.
Wine Type: Sparkling
NV Cottonworth Rosé, Hampshire( £29.95, 12.5%, Rude Wines )
I get a small glow of pride reviewing this wine as I tasted it at a Three Wine Men event and told the Rude Wines team how good it was. I’m delighted to say they agreed with me and listed it. Cottonworth is not one of the best-known English bubbly producers, but it’s definitely a name to keep an eye on if this is typical of future releases. Balanced, elegant and refined, with small bubbles, notes of summer berries and candy floss, a creamy, textured, mid palate and a long, satisfying finish. Great as an aperitif or with a bowl of strawberries.
NV Les Pionniers, Champagne( £16.99, 12, The Co-operative )
With the way the pound is behaving at the moment, it’s impressive that the Co-op can keep the price of this stunning frizz from Piper Heidsieck under £17. It’s a classy, toasty, mouth-filling bubbly with creamy bubbles, based on the red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but with 20% Chardonnay providing a citrus-edged tang of acidity. The best value Champagne in the country.
2013 Philippe Michel Chardonnay, Crémant du Jura, Jura( £7.49, 12%, Aldi )
Consistently among the best value whites in the Aldi range (and that’s a high bar to clear), this Jura fizz is frothy and tangy, showing notes of pear tart, a hint of brioche and the structure and acidity you expect from cool climate Chardonnay.
2010 Nyetimber Tillington Single Vineyard, Kent( £60-80, 12% )
An ambitious – and ambitiously priced – single vineyard blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the producer that continues to lead the English sparkling wine revolution. The bubbles are particularly fine here, the low dosage beautifully judged, the acidity refreshing and citrus-edged, while the bready, leesy, autolysis-influenced flavours linger tantalisingly on the tongue. Classy stuff.
NV Majolini Altèra Brut Rosé, Franciacorta( £30, 12%, Bat & Bottle )
Pinot Noir is the sole grape on this very pale pink bubbly and it shows in the poise, balance and perfume of the wine. Red fruits, attractive, bottle-aged maturity and complex, toasty undertones make this an excellent alternative to Champagne.
2011 Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Gran Reserva, Cava( £19.50, 12% )
A prime example of why it’s worth paying just a little but more (and still less than most Champagne and English fizz) to drink top end Cava rather than the basic supermarket stuff. Rich, honeyed, yet bone dry, this is a traditional style with toasty maturity and the slight bitterness that’s often a feature of Xarel-lo based wines.
2006 Drappier Grande Sendrée, Champagne( £45, 12%, Widely available )
This is a comparatively forward style of vintage Champage, as many of the 2006s are. It’s rich, toasty and stylish with an undertone of wild mushroom, some spice, fine, pin-head bubbles and a lingering dry finish. Delicious to drink now, but should keep for another four or five years thanks to its taut underlying acidity.
NV Krug, Grande Cuvée, Champagne( £80-£100, 12%, Widely available )
A blend of 20 wines from ten different vintages, some of which are 15 years old, Krug’s non-vintage blend is one of a kind. It’s rich, complex and palate coating, with small bubbles, savoury, umami notes, hints of hazelnut and honey and a dry, refeshing palate. The kind of Champagne that works extremely well with food rather than as an aperitif.
NV Hambledon, Classic Cuvée, Hampshire( £28.50, 12% )
Sourced from England’s oldest commercial vineyard (we are talking 1952), this blend of the Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is delicious, a fizz that manages to taste English while showing the complexity and nuances of a top Champagne. It’s chalky and dry, with subtle bubbles, hints of fresh pastry and citrus and a tapering finish: elegant, refined and understated.
2009 Ca'del Bosco Collection Brut, Franciacorta, Lombardy( £26.60-£31, 12.5%, Olivino, The Oxford Wine Company, Winedirect )
At its best, Franciacorta can rank among the best sparkling wines in the world. This is rich, bready and nicely developed with toasty complexity, fine bubbles and a dry, savoury finish. Tangy, chalky and long on the palate.
NV Chandon, Brut, Mendoza( £14.99, 13%, Majestic )
Moët’s sparkling wines in South America have mostly been a disappointment, but this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a huge improvement on what has gone before. It’s a rich, toasty style with some sweetness from dosage, flavours of hazelnut and brioche and a baking spicy, well balanced finish.