Our Picks: Lovely Bubbly
With a greater range of wines to choose from than ever before, and growing consumer confidence in the wine category, sparkling has never been more diverse or exciting. Get inspired for the festive season with our selection of traditional method sparklers…
We are proud to work with some of the most awarded producers in Champagne. This year’s International Wine Challenge saw Cyril Brun, chef de caves at Charles Heidsieck, named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year, with both the Brut Réserve NV and Rosé Réserve NV collecting gold medals. Piper-Heidsieck’s Essentiel Cuvée Réservée Extra Brut picked up the Non-Vintage Classic Blend Trophy – Piper-Heidsieck remains the most awarded Champagne house of the century. Meanwhile, Devaux’s Cuvée D Aged 5 Years NV took home a Decanter World Wine Awards Platinum Medal.
Kaiken Método Tradicional Brut NV
This traditional method blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is sourced from the Gualtallary sub-region of the Uco Valley, where the high-altitude helps to ensure the fruit retains the acidity so important in sparkling wine production. Two years’ lees ageing adds toasty notes which complement the crisp orchard fruits on the nose. Vibrant and balanced, this represents excellent value.
Charles Back Fairview MCC Brut 2015
Paarl, South Africa
This Methode Cap Classique is an intriguing blend of Mediterranean varieties Viognier and Grenache (Blanc and Noir). Whole-bunch pressed and using only free-run juice, the wine was rested on lees for seven months before secondary fermentation. A further 18 months lees ageing has added shortbread biscuit aromas and richness to a vibrant palate bursting with fresh lime and green apple.
Akarua Brut NV
Central Otago, New Zealand
Akarua translates as ‘two vines’ in Maori which refers to the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties which make up this traditional method sparkling wine. Hand-harvested and whole-bunch pressed, parcels were vinified separately in a mix of stainless steel and old oak barrels before second fermentation. The lees ageing and use of up to 15% reserve wines produce a complex wine with toasted brioche notes that combine with lifted florals and zesty citrus fruit on the palate.
Balfour Hush Heath Estate Brut
Balfour set out to make a benchmark English traditional method sparkling rosé and this Brut is testament to this. A deliciously delicate, fresh wine made from the three Champagne grape varieties, it spends three years ageing on its lees before disgorgement. Brimming with strawberry, rhubarb and redcurrants with a hint of hazelnut, it makes a mouth-watering aperitif.
Bellavista `Alma` Franciacorta Gran Cuvée Brut NV
Bordering Lake Iseo in Lombardia, Franciacorta makes wines that stand alongside the very best traditional method sparkling wines. Bellavista’s Gran Cuvée is crafted with a meticulous blending of more than 100 parcels, 35% of which are vinified and aged in small barriques. With a minimum of 30 months ageing on lees, this is a wine with a strong personality, its ripe fruit combining with pastry notes and candied citrus peel on an elegant creamy palate.
Devaux D Rosé Aged 5 Years NV
The 'D' wines represent rosé-specialist Devaux's premium range. With fruit coming from Devaux’s vineyards are in the Aube, where Pinot Noir is the dominant variety. Making up 53% of this blend, the Pinot Noir contributes fresh red fruit and hazelnut to the complex aroma profile, while the 47% Chardonnay adds floral notes and apricot, and an elegant freshness on the palate. With five years on lees and a dosage of 6g/l, it is a layered and long-lasting Champagne.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV
Chef de Caves Cyril Brun is a master blender who often compares his task in creating the non-vintage wines to that of a ‘nose’ making a perfume. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes from 60 crus throughout the Champagne region are vinified cru by cru and variety by variety in stainless steel vats. Using 40% reserve wines with an average age of 10 years, and with extended lees ageing prior to disgorgement, this is an opulent wine with complex notes of pastry, almonds and ripe apricot.
Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV
This Rosé Champagne received the Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine in this year’s The Wine Merchant Top 100. The Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay blend is vinified in stainless steel before blending with 20% reserve wines (made up equally of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). The inclusion of a percentage of the Pinot Noir vinified as a red wine provides the red fruit profile and the extended lees ageing adds toasty notes with hints of gingerbread and cinnamon. Complex and lingering on the finish, this is a rich, beautifully structured rosé.
Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel Cuvée Réservée Extra Brut NV
The Essentiel project began in 2008 and was born from the desire for wines with lower dosage. This Pinot-dominated blend, which picked up this year’s IWC Non-Vintage Classic Blend Trophy, uses the same base wine as the Brut NV, but with an additional year ageing on lees and a lower dosage of 6g/l. The wine is remarkably fresh given the four years on lees; aromas are redolent of crisp green apple, citrus and almonds. Delicate saline notes complement the fruitcake and subtle red fruit profile on the layered palate.
Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV
Produced solely with Chardonnay from the very best crus, this wine reflects the elegance, fruit and structure so synonymous with Piper-Heidsieck. With 40 months ageing on lees and a dosage of only 4g/l, this vibrant wine combines zesty citrus notes with fresh brioche on the nose. The chalky, textural palate is lifted by vivacious mousse and flavours of pear and Mirabelle plum.