Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne, France NV (£21, Tesco) As I’ve written in these pages before, t This is a golden age for sparkling wine and the choices for giving 2022 a sparkling welcome are more appealing and diverse than they’ve ever been. Let’s start with some of the cheaper options. If you like your fizz with r a little sweetness and gentle foaminess, a prosecco-alike from near Bologna, such as Taste the Difference Pignoletto Vino Spumante Brut NV (£9, Sainsbury’s), or, even better, the apple-snow light fluffiness of the Languedoc’s Antech Blanquette de Limoux Méthode Ancestrale NV (£10, thewinesociety.com) are both good candidates for midnight on Friday. For something drier, but still in that circa-£10 spot, Marks & Spencer’s Cava Prestige Brut NV (£10) is a wine of real depth and character, while Jansz Premium Cuvée NV is a bright, toasty example of the pristine Tasmanian fizz style at a very good 20%-off price (£14.39 until 2 January, Waitrose). Tesco’s stylish, creamy Premier Cru is my pick of this year’s crop of supermarket own-label champagnes.
Bollinger Rosé Brut, Champagne, France NV (£28, 37.5cl, Waitrose) England’s sparkling wine producers haven’t had a particularly good year in the vineyard (it’s been a vintage to remind everyone that this country is still on the northern fringe of winemaking possibility). But the sparkling wines available to buy continue to win friends and awards. Among my favourites this year were the immaculate range from the exponentially improving Rathfinny vineyard in the South Downs in East Sussex (including the impeccable Classic Cuvée Brut 2017, from £28.95, robersonwine.com, leaandsandeman.co.uk) and the briskly stylish Bride Valley Blanc de Blancs 2017 (£38, Waitrose), a slightly bittersweet choice since it comes from the Dorset estate of the debonair wine writer Steven Spurrier, who died earlier this year. With large parties rather unlikely, a half-bottle, such as Bollinger’s typically rich and savoury rosé, is just right for two, and works very well with food. As indeed can the same producer’s La Grande Année Rosé 2012 (£110, Waitrose), a superbly complex wine from a great vintage for blowing any savings you’ve made from missing that expensive NYE night out.
Kleine Zalze Project Z Sweet Fortified, Coastal Region, South Africa NV (from £24.40, handford.net; harrogatefinewinecompany.com) Contrary to every single marketing message and supermarket inducement to the contrary, there is in fact no law stipulating that all wines consumed on the strike of midnight – or at any other celebration – must be filled with bubbles. This, after all, is a late-night occasion, and sparkling wine is very rarely at its best after a meal or a night of other drinks. My own preference when the time comes is often for something richer and calmer – more suited to reflection – than the frenetic energy of fizz. Certainly, there’s something to be said for toasting the end of another weird and, for many of us, very difficult year with something a little cosier and sweeter, but no less special. The ideal – the dream! – would be the astonishing spice-cupboard and exotic fruit complexity and startling Atlantic Ocean freshness and intensity of the great fortified Barbeito Malvasia 20 Year Old Madeira (£175, oxfordwine.co.uk). More realistically, a glass of Kleine Zalze’s fine, filigreed, floral-perfumed and graceful Project Z would also help me to start 2022 in my desired state of blissful enchantment.
Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach