10 of the best Sparkling Wines

Nothing says celebration more than the popping of corks, and there’s no better time to sample fine fizz, with excellent expressions from all over the globe. Douglas Blyde charges his glass

Bolney Eighteen Acre Rose Brut 2011 Susex, England

This deeply coloured rosé is made from the oldest vines at Bolney, in the South Downs. At the helm of production is Sam Linter, whose parents began the conversion of a former chicken farm into vineyards in 1972 with the aim of recreating wines savoured in Germany closer to home. This textured, strawberry- and-cherry-scented pink features the fruit of the Germanic varieties, which may not feel fashionable to lovers of champagne, but are a vital part of the story of England’s rise to becoming a serious wine-producing nation. It’s won many awards, including gold at this year’s Global Rosé Masters contest.

Travel Details

£23.99, bolneywineestate.com

Graham Beck Cuvee Clive 2011 Robertson, South Africa

Optimism, quality, consistency and bravery characterise South Africa’s wine industry, which, despite having a 350-plus-year history, has been reinvented and refined beyond compare in the era of democracy. Graham Beck’s art-filled winery, found off Route 62, is famed for its sparkling ‘Cap Classique’ fizz. Winemaker Pieter Ferreira – better known by his nickname of ‘Bubbles’ – uses his ‘spaghetti’ of hoses to make stunning sparkling wines, the pinnacle being the rare, restrained Cuvée Clive, a chardonnay- and pinot noir-centric fizz only made in the best years.

Travel Details

£33, taste-of-africa.eu

Bleasdale Langhorne Creek Sparkling Shiraz NV Barossa, Australia

Now for something completely different. I recommend not telling guests about this red wine’s bubbles, which, being masked by the intense ruby colour, should come as a pleasant surprise. The historic Bleasdale estate, complete with antique equipment (occasionally put into use), has been deemed a national monument. It was founded in 1850 by an Englishman, Frank Potts. Today, the fourth and fifth generation of the Potts family are still involved in making this unconventional but delicious wine. It’s a positive, juicy, substantial mulberry-pudding-scented red with smooth tannins that can easily tame a tomahawk steak or bring eccentric drama to an English brunch.

Travel Details

£12.95, thewinesociety.com

Billecart-Salmon Demi-Sec NV Champagne, France

Billecart-Salmon was one of the many family-owned historic champagne houses that didn’t survive ransack during the war, which is why no vintages before 1942 exist. Headed by sixth-generation François Roland-Billecart, it is located at Mareuil-sur-Ay, the highest rated of Champagne’s premier cru villages. On taking over the directorial mantle in 1994, Roland-Billecart insisted on buying back bottles from supermarkets to battle their cost-cutting antics, in favour of using independent merchants. Despite coming from a house known for discretion, the Demi-Sec, a softly sweetish, candyfloss-and-brioche- scented perfect afternoon pour, is impossible to miss on account of its hot pink label.

Travel Details

£39.95, winedirect.co.uk

Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut 2007 Champagne, France

After tasting the beurre noisette, coconut-scented 1937 Grande Année in the cool cellars below sleepy-seeming Ay, I chose to reserve a case of the current incarnation, La Grande Année 2007 for my newly minted daughter to enjoy one day. The bakery and red-wine-poached-pear flavours that developed in the glass of the 1937 (the year of the late Queen Mother’s coronation; the house of Bollinger holds a Royal Warrant) – were just beginning to emerge in the superbly focused 2007. I rate Bollinger’s signature oak-bevelled style, which is bold enough to drink with strong dishes, including curry.

Travel Details

£75, waitrosecellar.com

Allini Pinot Grigio Spumante 2016 Veneto, Italy

The tankerloads of bulk- harvested workhorse pinot grigio sponged up from northern Italy often have about as much expressivity as the eyes of a Madame Tussauds figure. This meekly priced version, shrewdly created by Lidl dares to have more than a bit of flair and oomph. Being neither bland nor flat, it offers foamy volume in the mouth, discernible ripe pear flavour and an elongated, chalky finish that cries out for shellfish. Produced from vineyards near Lake Garda, this pour should, says Lidl’s wine consultant Richard Bampfield, evoke, ‘A land of stunning scenery and climate for those to have been to the largest lake in Italy.’

Travel Details

£6.99, Lidl

Pommery Brut Royal Magnum NV Champagne, France

Champagne brings people together. When I first discovered these particular wines, including the lacy, fresh, mineral Brut Royal – which makes a magnanimous statement in magnum – I was suitably impressed. Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Pommery must be champagne’s best-known widow after Veuve Clicquot. In 1858 she took over the running of the business after the unexpected death of her husband Alexandre, continuing to carve from chalk some 11 miles of cellars, and coining, in 1874, the ‘Brut’ style when champagne had habitually been overly sweetened with sugar. This wine is perfect for a family celebration.

Travel Details

£75, thechampagnecompany.com

Ancre Hill Estate Blanc De Blancs 2011 Monmouth, Wales

This blotter dry, complex wine with citrus and hazelnut notes comes from one of only two biodynamically farmed wine estates in the UK. Sited in the picturesque Wye Valley in Monmouth, Ancre Hill’s first vines were sown as recently as 2006 by Richard and Joy Morris and their winemaker son David. Their chiselled-in- feel wines are blended in a structure insulated by straw bales. Grapevines, including limestone-sown chardonnay, albariño and pinot noir, are plucked purely on taste. The resulting, multi-award- winning handmade wines are the result of small-batch fermentations, and are sought after even in fine- wine capital Bordeaux.

Travel Details

£29.95, tanners-wines.co.uk

Llopart Brut reserva Cava 2014 Catalonia, Spain

This complex organic ‘craft cava’ is good enough to have kick-started the revival of the Spanish fizz. It comes from one of the country’s longest- established (dating back to 1887) family run producers. Matured for a minimum of 18 months, it bears more relation to champagne than prosecco in both production and taste, as evidenced by the opulent, prolonged notes of vanilla, toast and wood smoke present in the bubbles. The wine blends local grapes xarel-lo for structure, macabeo for freshness, and creamy parellada with chardonnay. It’s equally good from a red-wine glass paired with tapas, with salted almonds or, even better, wet walnuts.

Travel Details

£13.75, allaboutwine.co.uk

Nino Franco Cartizze Di Valdobbiadene Superiore Docg 2016 Veneto, Italy

Primo Franco was one of the first winemakers to export prosecco outside of the Veneto. This wine is gleaned from the region’s grand cru. Valued at £1.5m per hectare, the hill of Cartizze is a 260-acre suntrap divided among around 140 growers. Compared to ‘normal’ prosecco, this appears softer, sweeter and longer on the palate. Primo’s grandfather established the Cantine in 1919 to revitalise Valdobbiadene, a town decimated by its Austrian occupiers. Franco bolstered the area’s stock of reserve wines with grapes bought from co-operatives.

Travel Details

£29.70, sommelierschoice.co.uk

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