Your essential guide to New Year sparkling wines




WITH New Year’s Eve just hours away do not delay in buying your favourite Champagne, Cava or Prosecco.

I am always amazed when I hear that someone doesn’t like Champagne, but I can see why the sweet white peach style of Prosecco is often preferred. The main thing to remember about Prosecco is that it is tank fermented rather than bottle-fermented, so it has less fizz.

If your Prosecco is bottled with a string-topped cork or screwcap it will have even fewer bubbles as these bottles are frizzante and taxed as a still wine in Ireland (hence the great value price). Spumante Prosecco and all Cava and Champagnes are taxed at double the rate of still wines.

Of the Champagnes I tasted this year I particularly enjoyed the fresh citrus qualities in the Laurent Perrier Brut which won Champagne of the Year at the Irish Wine Show and is available in independent off-licences (Galvins, O’Donovans, Redmonds, World Wide Wines) for around €50. The Louis Roederer NV was a close runner-up.

The best Rosé I tasted was the Bollinger Rosé NV which is around 60% Pinot Noir and is fermented in (old) oak. This had delicious red currant and slightly smoky notes and a creamy soft palate with flavours that lingered on and on. This costs around €88 and is available in the likes of Ardkeen, Mitchells, Next Door and O’Briens.

I also tasted the Grand Année Rosé 2002 and 2004 which cost around €170. Both had aromas more akin to Burgundy with a delicate fizz and lovely finesse. The ‘02 was a little more earthy but both were delicious.

As well as those below I would also watch out for Jacquart, Tattinger, Mumm and O’Brien’s almond and citrus flavoured Beaumont des Crayères (€31) which will be at their best price all year so stock up for birthdays, weddings, etc.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Tesco Cava Rosé Brut NV, Spain — €10

Tesco

Fresh raspberry and strawberry aromas, crisp red currant flavours with good acidity and a creamy consistency with a reasonably crisp finish. This is light and not hugely complex but is also very drinkable and good value for €10.

Marks & Spencer Prosecco — €14.99 (was €17.99)

Marks & Spencer

The Prosecco grape is grown throughout Northern Italy, but the DOC versions are from the Veneto, Friuli, Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Treviso. The M&S version is a white peach and lime scented frothy wine with good fizz which held together well in the glass. Light and fresh but very enjoyable.

La Rosca Cava Método Tradicional, Spain — €14.99 (was €17.99)

O’Briens

Don’t forget about Cava, Spain’s bottle-fermented sparkling wine made from local grapes such as Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello and sometimes Chardonnay. O’Briens also stock the excellent Segura Viudas brand. The La Rosca is a good lively, lemon-scented sparkler with nice roundness and not a little richness on the palate and a crisp yeasty finish.

BEST VALUE UNDER €25

P. Desroches & Cie Brut Champagne, France — €25

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer have some good value in sparkling wines this year with this old favourite down from €40 to 25. Fresh baked bread and slightly honeyed aromas with a soft rich flavour and good consistent bubbles. This should go very well with canapés such as smoked salmon or paté and please most palates.

Mionetto Prosecco D.O.C. Treviso, Italy — €18.99

O’Briens

A full-fizz, fruit driven Prosecco from Treviso in the Veneto in a very pretty bottle that will stand out well if you are bringing it as a gift. This is reduced from €21.99 and has good mousse, a fine peaches and cream aroma with hints of sweet pears and good body and acidity.

Reserve de Sours Sparkling Rosé, Bordeaux, France — €25-26

Ardkeen Stores Waterford, 64 Wines Sandycove, Kellys Clontarf.

A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau de Sours in St. Emilion. This producer’s wines are old favourites on the Irish market. Raspberry aromas with a hint of cherry, solid consistent mousse of small bubbles, a warm rich mouth-feel and an elegant raspberry kick on the finish. Delicious stuff.


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