Sparkling and Champagne for the festive season

Champagne glasses (Photo: BELINDA ROLLAND)

Anticipating the festive season, I’ve just uploaded 75 sparkling wine and Champagne tasting notes. They cover many styles from the increasingly popular prosecco (both Australian and Italian) to Aussie sparkling wines and Champagne. There are the occasional Spanish Cava and some Aussie sparkling reds to finish. The best Cava was Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad – in its amazing metal-based bottle. I’m not a huge fan of prosecco but I did enjoy De Bortoli’s NV and Freeman’s 2016 versions.

The Champagnes included some budget priced bottles from Aldi and Woolworths, the pick of them probably Aldi’s Monsigny Premier Cru NV which goes for just $30. I rated it 88, which is fair value. Woolworths’ Duperrey Premier Cru NV ($58 and 89 points) and Paul Louis Martin Bouzy Grand Cru NV ($65 and 91 points) were a cut above, but substantially dearer.

It’s hard to see great value, when these wines are compared with very good Aussies such as Oakridge 2012 Blanc de Blancs ($42 and 93), Coldstream Hills 2013 Pinot Noir Chardonnay ($35 and 93), Yarrabank Sauvage Late Disgorged 2005 ($55 and 95), and Sittella Grand Vintage 2012 from Pemberton ($29.75 and 93).

Steel’s Gate 2013, Clover Hill 2012 and Sidewood Isabella 2011 were all very good, and well-priced, while the Heemskerk Tasmanian range are always stylish in a fresh, aperitif mode – especially the Georg Jensen Hallmark Cuvée NV ($40 and 91), with its beautifully designed silver replaceable stopper perched strikingly atop its crown-seal.

Not aligned to any particular retailer is the Champagne Jacquart range, whose winemaker Floriane Eznack visited Australia promoting her wines in November. Her NVs, Brut Mosaïque and Rosé Mosaïque, are good in their stations, and the prestige Cuvée Alpha 2010 is rightly excellent (and so it should be at $220). But the best value was the $100 Blanc de Blancs 2006 – a shade better than the 2009 of the same label and a finer wine – if you can find it, as the vintage is at change-over.

Finally, if you’re one of those who simply must have a sparkling red with the Christmas turkey, the best value I’ve found lately are Koonara The Golden Orb Sparkling Shiraz 2013 ($25) and Chandon NV Sparkling Pinot Noir Shiraz ($32), while Primo Estate’s Joseph Sparkling Red NV is expensive at $90 but powerful, dense and astonishingly complex.



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