Put some sparkle into the season
SPARKLING wines comes in many styles: "Traditional'' method, bottled fermented champagne; cava made from Spain's indigenous grapes; fun yet delicate proseccos; and, of course, Australia's own vintage examples. Here's a selection that won't break the bank. Salut!
Originally from the north-east of Italy and made from the Glera grape. Lightly fruited, prosecco is your ultimate party starter or lunchtime sparkler.
Pizzini, King Valley, 2016: Straw and light aspirin spritz. Soft apple slices, crisp and light citrus and fine boned and delicate. Rating: 9/10 RRP: $21.50 Alc: 11.5%
De Bortoli, King Valley, NV: Consistently well made. Label sums up the intent, fun and sunshine. Light green apple meets spring blossoms with mint freshness and fairy floss sweetness. Slightly grippy mouthfeel that will enjoy pairing with food. Demands sharing the bottle. Rating: 8.5/10 RRP: $16 Alc: 11.5%
These are the industry's little secret. Not from a fashionable region, they look fancy yet are budget priced and extremely drinkable.
L'Eglise Saint Martain Blanquette de Limoux, Brut, NV: Limoux was the first region to make sparkling wine in the 16th century. Soft and approachable nose, with light dough, apple and citrus pith. Grapey flavours punctuated with soft apple and easy leesy notes. A top French budget choice. Rating: 8.5/10 RRP: $18 Alc: 12%
Segura Viudas, Brut Reserva, Penedes, NV: Indigenous grapes: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo. Inviting warm apple crumble, soft biscuit and citrus pith with yeasty-salty complexity to lift it over many in the price point. Finishes fruit fresh and crunchy. Easy budget choice. Rating: 8.5/10 RRP: $15 Alc: 11.5%
Oz crowd pleasers
Made from "traditional'' grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, they'll be found at most large Christmas parties and are more than respectable enough for a second glass.
Wolf Blass, Yellow Label, Premium Cuvee Brut, SEA, NV: Hay bales and grapefruit pith all over the nose. Red fruit front palate before lemonade-like fizz and tang, rounds out with curd and dough. Bargain. Bound to be found much cheaper.
Rating: 8.5/10 RRP: $18 Alc: 11%
Katnook, Founders Block, Coonawarra, NV: Red berry nose with baked Danish pastry, cinnamon spice, grapefruit and quince. Ripe palate with impressive mousse and enough grip to handle most main courses. Rating: 8/10 RRP: $23 Alc: 12.5%
Tasmania is fast becoming Australia's answer to Champagne. The quality is high right across the board and plenty of aging potential.
Bream Creek, Tasmania, 2010: Chardonnay and Pinot. Complex layers of wet dough, lemon slices with a hint of honeysuckle and spices. Soft yeasty notes with a seamless silky palate and straight down the line chardonnay, supported with quality red fruit. Draws to a fine, tight finish with plenty of cellaring potential. Rating: 9/10 RRP: $39 Alc: 12%
Clover Hill, Tasmania, 2012: Chardonnay, Pinot and Meunier. Delicious honey and lemon curd nose. Elegant layers of citrus and brioche all highlighted with balanced strawberry and roses. Acidity makes it fresh and vibrant. Stunning quality. Rating: 9.5/10 RRP: $45 Alc: 13%
The real deal
Ahhh, Champagne. Unfortunately we're so far away the quality can be varied by the time it's shipped here. Make sure you check disgorgement dates on non-vintage examples for freshness.
Duperrey, "Premier Cru” Brut, Champagne, NV: Rich nose with apple, pie crust, strawberry. Autolytic (yeasty) characters and creamy vanilla richness before lemon curd and honey flavours, yet retains a crisp acidity. Can be found under the RRP. Good value. Rating: 8/10 RRP: $58 Alc: 12%
Lanson, "Black Label,” Champagne, NV: One of the big houses. Wet pastry, pith, yogurt, and soft red fruits. Pinot dominant with strawberry and cherry red fruit pillows cut with a sharp acid line. Tight, smoky citrus and hints of honeyed richness to provide complexity. Rating: 9/10 RRP: $60 Alc: 12.5%
These absolutely sing with roast turkey and cranberry sauce or a decadent chocolate dessert. However, they're best matched with a bacon and egg roll Boxing Day breakfast.
Seppelt, Original Sparkling Shiraz, Victoria, 2013: Cherry and raspberry with delicious chocolatey oak supplemented with meaty pan juices. Medium bodied with a distinct raspberry finish. Rating: 9/10 RRP: $21 Alc: 13%
Balnaves, Sparkling Cabernet, Coonawarra, NV: Blended from 14 different vintages from 1995-2014, with a dosage of vintage port to provide the final hit of richness. Peppermint crisp (chocolate-mint) with a lovely black olive savoury note.
Rating: 8.5/10 RRP: $35 Alc: 14%