Weekend wine with Blake Creedon

IF you haven’t yet stocked up yet for tonight’s fun, there are still plenty of options for festive fizz and I take a look at some of the best value ones below.

Weekend wine with Blake Creedon

The Monistrol is the one I’ve chosen for my own festivities.

If I needed a second, I’d pick the Borgo prosecco. But really they’re all good. They’re also great value. Due to the revolution in sparkling wine in the last decade — particularly led by Australian and Spanish wine firms — you can now bypass Champagne entirely which is the best news yet. So you can ring in the New Year and ring out the old by saying goodbye to being overcharged — not just because times are tough but just we don’t feel like it, okay?

* Understandably, many New Year’s resolutions involve alcohol — from cutting back a bit, to dropping it entirely. I trust this column will be useful for anyone choosing to ease back a bit on the quantity of alcohol and upping the quality. This is related to another, perhaps less obvious, but helpful, resolution — to be a cannier shopper in 2012. If you’d like to turn yourself into a lean, mean shopping machine I’d point you towards two resources that might help.

* First, Tina Leonard’s latest book, Your Consumer Rights in Ireland (€14.99) is a thorough round-up of your entitlements. Not only is it a great reference tome for when things go wrong, I think we should all read it over the holidays so we’re armed with information.

* Secondly, as a follow-up to at the presentation I made to the Cork Skeptics recently in Blackrock Castle Observatory, I have posted a comprehensive resource, including links to audio and video clips, on my blog at blakecreedon.wordpress.com. You may find it a useful for debunking some enormously unhelpful untruths about wine and health commonly repeated in the media, and for exploding some expensive marketing myths too. You may also, like me, find much of it pretty funny too. Save money, enjoy better quality wine and have a bit of a laugh... Yep. that’s my wish for us all for 2012. Happy New Year.

El Miracle Cava NV, Dunnes Stores, €9.99

I distinctly remember my first encounter with this at a tasting, and muttering, “It’ll be a bloody miracle if it’s any good at that price.” Well it is a remarkably good sparkler worth well more than its price. In common with quite a few of the best Spanish ones, it sets local macabeo off against chardonnay to produce a lovely fresh lemony sparkler. A bargain.

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé, Widely available €12 to €13

In a way, this pink bubbly is a stand-in for the entire Jacob’s Creek sparkling range — the chardonnay pinot noir and blanc de blancs are also well-crafted style. But Tesco has announced that the pink one is now reduced to €10 so you’ve a further incentive to stock up.

Marques de Monistrol Cava, Selected independents €11 to €13

Spain — you’ve done it again. At a tasting of quite a few sparklers, this one stood out from the crowd. It’s a pitch-perfect bubbly, fresh and elegant but with a distinct nod towards the more sophisticated secondary toasty notes. The rosado version is top class too. Buy at independents including Fine Wines and O’Donovans.

Borgo Magredo Prosecco Spumante, Selected independents, €13.50

Unlike lightly-fizzy ‘frizzante’, a prosecco bearing the term ‘spumante’ is a fully-fledged sparkler. This one’s one of the best proseccos I’ve had in a while — its pears and delicately floral scent are a delicious treat. You’ll find it at Red Nose Wines, Clonmel; Curious Wines , Kinsale Road Cork and Cases, Galway.

Sparkling Burgundy NV, Marks & Spencer €17.49

We humans are funny. We love paying over the odds for posh wine regions. But mash up the production method of one (Champagne) with the great grapes of another (Burgundy) and somehow we don’t get it. This is an absolutely terrific bubbly for at least a tenner less than its Champangne equivalent .

Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva NV, Widely available at around €12 to €14

This is another winner from Spain. A fresh, delicious sparkler, it’s one this year’s National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) Gold Star winners and hence is available at more than 300 independent off-licences nationwide.

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