The last 18 months have been a difficult time with Covid affecting all of us in some way or another. So, when my wife, Hilary, had a ‘big’ birthday recently, we decided it was important to find something to lighten the gloom and celebrate. And, like so many before, we decided it had to be fizz. Traditionally, that would have meant Champagne; today, the choice is so much wider.
Sales of Prosecco are booming, with its lighter, fruitier and slightly sweeter taste appealing to many. The quality of Spanish Cava, once thought of as only a cheap and cheerful alternative, is improving greatly, too (although I still think you need to choose carefully). And then there’s New Zealand with its perfect cool climate for fizz, Australia, South Africa, California. How many birthdays would we need to sample all of those?
And the choice doesn’t end there. There are different methods of production – traditional (as used in Champagne), tank, transfer, ancestral and so on – with each giving its own style and character to the wine as does the grape variety (or varieties) used.
So, with all these to choose from, what did we open?
A delightful dry rosé sparkler from the Camel Valley vineyard in Cornwall. Made with Pinot Noir, one of the Champagne grapes, this was light and elegant with lovely strawberry fruit, a mouth-filling mousse and a long herby finish. Delicious! It’s quite widely available but we bought it from the Wine Society for £28 – a bargain when compared to equivalent quality rosé Champagne.
Regular readers will know that we’re great fans of English sparkling wines (indeed, English and Welsh wines in general) and this bottle confirmed our view. But don’t just take my word for it, look at the number of medals and top awards our local bottles are winning and you’ll see why it really is time to take our home product very seriously.