By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 21 August 2021
This week I have been searching the supermarket shelves for lesser-known sparkling wines under £20 – as an alternative to Prosecco or cheaper Champagne.
There are a myriad of options for creamy gently toasty fizz from around the world, but some proved surprisingly disappointing in our tasting. Our highest scorers came from England and France:
England: MORRISONS THE BEST ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE BRUT NV (11.5%) ***STAR BUY***
Clear winner in our taste test. Clever fizz blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with enticing toasty biscuity nose, baked apple and citrus palate, good depth of flavour and complexity. Good value for quality traditional method English sparkling. Well done Morrisons.
Abruzzo, Italy: WAITROSE ‘LOVED & FOUND’ SPARKLING PECORINO BRUT (12%)
There are not many sparkling wines made from the Pecorino grape - but this is quite intriguing. Light peachy aromas with a weighty full ripe fruit flavours on palate, nutty undertones with creamy texture, soft fine delicate bubbles, not too dry – good value too.
Devon, England: ALDI BOWLER & BROLLY ENGLISH SPARKLING BRUT RESERVE (12%) ***STAR BUY***
Elderflower, apples and pear aromas with creamy palate, vibrant acid backbone and good finish – fabulous value English fizz made by James Lambert at Lyme Bay winery in Devon. This was a close second in our tasting behind Morrison’s English fizz (above).
Loire, France: LIDL CREMANT DE LOIRE BRUT (12%)
A moderate scorer. Some tasters liked its floral notes, creamy mid palate and melony fruits, but others found it lacking in flavour, too earthy and bitter on the finish. Like most Cremant de Loire, it is principally made from Chenin Blanc with a touch of Chardonnay.
Limoux, France: M&S ‘FOUND’ BLANQUETTE DE LIMOUX BRUT (12%) ***STAR BUY***
£10 Marks & Spencer
Part of M&S’s unusual grapes range, this traditional method Mauzac-based fizz with a touch of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay has pale green gold colour, light biscuit, pear and vanilla notes, baked apple, almost cider-like flavours with a nutty waxy finish. Rustic in a charming way. Good value too.
Catalonia, Spain: MORRISONS THE BEST MARQUES DE LOS RIOS CAVA (12%)
A low scorer in our tasting. Lacking in flavour, but drinkable was the overall verdict. Some tasters liked the lemony appley flavours, prominent mousse and crisp dry palate, whilst others disliked its blandness, earthy notes and bitter finish.
Burgundy, France: M&S CREMANT DE BOURGOGNE BRUT (12%)
£10 Marks & Spencer
A moderate scorer. Starts well with citric fruit aromas and zippy crisp dry lemony palate, but disappointing short on the finish with slightly vinegary hints. A blend of Pinot Noir, Aligote, Gamay and Chardonnay from Caves des Hautes Cotes de Beaune.
Loire, France: SAINSBURY’S TASTE THE DIFFERENCE CREMANT DE LOIRE BRUT (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
Text book Cremant de Loire with light floral notes, zesty citric and baked apple fruits and silky creamy texture made from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Highest scorer of all the French Cremants in our tasting.
Bordeaux, France: M&S CREMANT DE BORDEAUX SPARKLING ROSE (12%)
£9 Marks & Spencer
Light fruit notes, smooth creamy with full ripe strawberry fruit palate, dry with a syrupy finish – made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Moderate score for this perfectly pleasant fizz. In the past Bordeaux Cremant has been poor quality, but this proves the region can produce decent drinkable fizz.
Burgundy, France: SAINSBURY’S CREMANT DE BOURGOGNE PRESTIGE BRUT (12%)
The better of two Cremant de Bourgognes in our tasting (the other was from M&S). Creamy citric, moderately good fruit depth and zippy citric length with classy bottle shape and packaging – but would have expected a little more complexity for the price.
Catalonia, Spain: LIDL ARESTEL CAVA BRUT (11.5%)
OK so this is pretty cheap – but it is so lacking in aroma and flavour. Closed nose, neutral flavour, with just a hint of lemon fruits and a touch waxy on the finish. Whilst this is not unpleasant, its blandness could prove useful as a cocktail base or mixer.
Kent, England: CO-OP IRRESISTIBLE EIGHT ACRES SPARKLING ROSE BRUT NV (11.5%) ***STAR BUY***
Another high scorer. So pale it is barely rose, but what an enchanting fizz. Light biscuity notes, good depth of zippy citric fruits, zesty lemon mid palate, vibrant high acid and good finish. Very accomplished blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier made by Hush Heath Estate. Well done Co-op.
Join Rose’s Wines of Georgia virtual wine tasting on Friday 3 September www.rosemurraybrown.com