Sparkling good choices for festivities

01:42, Jan 10 2014
Sparkling wine

It was one thing celebrating Christmas with all that goodwill to man, or should I say "other persons" stuff.

It was quite another celebrating New Year just a week later when I, for one, didn't give a second thought to the PC (politically correct) plonkers who continue to blight our lives.

But I did for fellow man, of course.

Which is why I feel compelled to remind all that New Year was a simple exercise in self-indulgence that allowed us the chance to farewell the old year and look forward to a better one - starting with a bang, or the pop of a cork, at least.

Which meant supping sparkling wines.

Well it did in my case anyway.


These wines are synonymous with celebration , thanks mostly to the hype which has surrounded them almost from the day the Poms produced a glass strong enough to withstand the pressures built up by these fizzy whites from Champagne as they fermented in the bottle.

I am not, however, talking about these wines in particular, but about wines which are made using much the same system - the methode traditionelle, so called - or methods which provide a similar result.

The fact is that there are many wines produced in New Zealand in the same way as they are in Champagne that cannot be described as such because of a system of protection (something at which the French are expert), which deters even such humble scribes as I from breaking the rules.

What I can say though is that many of these methode traditionelles we do produce compare extremely well with wines from Champagne. Indeed, some have even been developed with the assistance of French Champagne houses - Deutz, for instance, who helped Montana (now Pernod Ricard) launch a series of methode traditionelles under that famous label in Marlborough.

The cause has also been assisted by Frenchmen like Daniel Le Brun (No1 Family Estate) who has now for 30 years been using the skills learned from his family in Champagne, to produce some of New Zealand's best bubbles.

In fact there has, over the recent past, been something of an explosion of fizzies (no pun intended) including the launching of methodes and other bubblies made using other than the traditional varieties (pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot muenier).

There has also been an increase in the number of rose methodes, which follows a world-wide trend, and the appearance on the market of a number of Prosecco (Italian) style, lightly-bubbled wines that are hugely popular overseas.

In other words there's plenty from which to take your pick.

A sampler:

Soljans Fusion Sparkling Muscat, $17
This is a cracker for the summer. To all intents a Kiwi asti spumante . It's made from Gisborne muscat , it's sweet, soft and sexy and at only 8.5 per cent alcohol which means another glass could be in order. A rose is also available.

Morton IQ7, $25
One of at least six bubblies made by Morton Estate , this wine spent seven years on the spent yeast before being disgorged. The result is a lovely rich, citrus and peaches blend of the traditional varieties massaged with plenty of yeast, toast and nuts.

Lindauer Brut, $16
Has been going out the door by the caseload, and so it should. Likewise its four or five stablemates which sometimes [and especially at this time of the year] sell for less than $10 a bottle. Current brut bottling is particularly good value.

Villa Maria Lightly Sparkling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $20
The label says it all. A very pleasant, slightly sweet but lively drink.

Deutz Marlborough Cuvee Brut, $19.99- $39
A very smart, rich, citrusy wine that has been and could still be on the market for just under $20 a bottle. This is ridiculously cheap for one of New Zealand's better methode traditionelles.

Cuvee No1, $30-$47
A blanc de blancs (made entirely from chardonnay) produced by Daniel Le Brun (the man). A stylish, delicate and yeasty methode traditionelle that at $29.99 on special promotion is excellent value for money. A touch of class.

A happy and a bubbly New Year to you all.

The Southland Times