No champagnes at these prices, but plenty of interesting alternatives, often in a light, fresh style that’s perfect for summer by-the-glass drinking
At a time when the public have a) acquired a taste for fizz and b) are watching the pennies, you could argue that this is one of the most commercially lucrative sections of the competition. Do well in this, and restaurants should be beating a path to your door.
No one was expecting champagne at these prices, and the wines submitted ranged from Rioja to Australia via prosecco, taking in everything from bone-dry to decidedly off-dry, such as the Gold List-winning dessert fizz from Familia Schroeder.
Tough to judge, in other words, with there being something of a cut-off point around half way through the flight where the wines moved from light, grapey and moscato-ish to more serious pseudo-champenois creations.
The difficulty was in finding purity of fruit. Many of the wines had a slightly baked character and a lack of acidity, both of which our judges were half resigned to at this price level, but which might make them a hard sell once marked up on a list.
‘Some of the wines showed well on the nose, but fell apart on the palate,’ said wine consultant and team leader Caspar Auchterlonie. ‘Simplicity is about as much as you can hope for at this price, but some wines held it better than others.’
Still, plenty of varieties in price and style to look at if you accept (as you should) that you’re more likely to be selling fizz sub-£30 or -£40 over the next 12 months.
We’ll be selling more wines at this level from now on. So it’s important that they’re good, not just cheap. Angus McNab, Clos Maggiore
Deseado NV, Familia Schroeder, Patagonia, Argentina
£8.27 @ Moreno Wines
Very grapey, floral and aromatic with quite a bit of RS, the tasters had this appealing, honeyed-apple flavoured dessert fizz down as a ‘top Moscato’. In fact, a sweet, sparkling Torrontés. Quirky in the extreme it may be, but this does have possibilities for those with imagination.
Lila Brut NV, Deinhard, Rheinhessen, Germany
£6.47 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Big bubbled mousse with an intense citrus fruit and cooked apple palate with what Angus McNab called ‘a whiff of frangipane’. Some food-matching potential, especially at the price.
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC Frizzante ‘SPAGO’ NV, Mionetto
£6.88 @ Moreno Wines
Floral apple and orange blossom with some soft grapiness and just a touch of sweetness, this was picked as a prosecco, and performed appealingly well for the money.
Ondarre Cava NV, Ondarre, Rioja
£7.18 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Red apples and pastry, this is a fresh, light, refreshing style with a touch of yeastiness fattening out the palate.
Cuvee de l’Ecusson Brut NV, Bernard Massard, Cremant de Luxembourg
£7.50 @ Waverley TBS
Very ripe fruit. Grapes, nectarines and grapefruit, with a whiff of nettle patch, this is a big, lush wine with plenty of sweet fruit.
Maschio Prosecco di Valdobbiadene NV, Maschio, Italy
£7.80 @ Waverley TBS
Elderflower, peach and apricot with some vanilla and spice, this is ripe and lush before a hint of bitterness on the finish
Grant Burge Sparkling NV, Barossa Valley, Australia
£9.99 @ Hatch Mansfield
Perfumed stone fruit and toasty nose, the palate becomes more tropical before a soft, appley finish with some toastiness. Good length.
Domaine Carneros Brut Sparkling 2005, Carneros, California, USA
£10.48 @ Hatch Mansfield
Baked apples, with a nice brioche palate and good length. ‘The closest thing to champagne in this flight,’ said an admiring Angus McNab.
Vino Spumante Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Doc ‘Millesimato 007’ 2007, Astoria Vini, Italy
£12.90 @ Alivini Company Ltd
Grapey peach and apricot, with some fresh apple characters. No autolysis, but decent weight on the palate, with a lingering finish.