Friday, 13 December 2013

Awesommelier's Top Three Classy Budget Bubbles for Christmas

I'm sorry everyone, at some point someone was going to actually read one of my posts and realise that essentially I've written a load of nonsense for this website. I've been caught, had my knuckles firmly wrapped and been told that I have to post something of use or I'll be in deep trouble.

Being in trouble is something that happens to me all too frequently, so to minimise my stress levels I'm doing a serious post.

1. Cremant d'Alsace

Many people seem to believe that wineries in Alsace are actually just fronts for the laundering of Foie Gras and that the real genius behind the wines is Sussex, producing 60% of Alsatian wines on the market. NOT SO! It's a certified WINE FACT. Wine nerds love Alsatian wines, and if you turn up at a party with a bottle of this stuff people will be super impressed that you knew Alsace even bothered to make wine.

The sparkling stuff is interesting, instead of only using the traditional Champagne grapes other sparkling wine producers use (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), these dudes use their own grapes too, like Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Auxerrois Blanc. These grapes have been certified 'interesting' by wine bloggers, but everyone knows that wine bloggers have very low standards...

It tends to be a bit lighter that champagne, but half the fun is the fact they can lob in all these different grapes and the variety between them is pretty interesting. The Wine Society have a great one from Dopff, but My favourite is the Albert Mann example, which uses Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois and has power, structure but brilliant fresh fruit. NICE. Unfortunately it's not currently available in the UK (booo!) but you can get the delicious, round Dopff Cremant d'Alsace from The Wine Society for a savvy £11.95.

2. Quartet - A Bit Like Champagne, But Not.

I feel bad sharing this, but this has been my personal favourite non-Champagne sparkling for years. Quartet is the site owned by Louis Roederer in Northern California from the same grapes and in the same way as champagne is. 

Several years ago, I bullied a made friends with a shop owner who let me buy Quartet for less than a decent bottle of Prosecco costs now. These halcyon days will haunt me until I'm in that nursing home at 45, all glazed eyed and housecoated, remembering that time when I managed to have at least a glass of Quartet a day for about 6 months. I love the stuff, and despite what many people think about Californian bubbles, it has real class, style and complexity.

Majestic sell Quartet for £21.99 but if you buy two bottles it's only £19.99 each - you should all go and buy a case because if you don't I will and if there's anything I don't need to do it's buy more Quartet.


Everyone wants to know what the best alternative to Champagne is. Guess what, geniuses, there's plenty of awesome value champagne out there for you to try. Champagne is in a league of it's own for a reason, the time, effort and the quality of the product is excellent. Yes, there are great sparkling wines out there, but they shouldn't be compared to Champagne as they are excellent wines in their own right. Let them be, and if you actually want to drink Champagne, don't worry about an alternative and treat yourself.

You don't even have to spend much to get something good: while there are a great many 'budget' Champagnes on the market at this time of year, most falling in the £10-18 bracket, the Vinspire team has yet to try anything in this price range as good as Tesco's Finest Premier Cru Champagne. It's currently on offer at £16.99 down from 20 quid, and is delicate, lemony and has a fair whack of that creaminess you'd expect from much more expensive Champers. 

What if you're not bothered about the price, but want to find brilliant bubbles to suit your taste? There's so much variation in them! If you like your wines light and fresh and very dry, go for Lanson (there's no malolactic fermentation on Lanson, so it's fresher and crisper by comparison). Like things fuller and rounder? Go for Bollinger! Like to show off and think you're a bit special? Go for Krug. You like rose? You're in luck, they make loads of it. There's sweet wines in the Demi-Secs, there's really dry Ultra Bruts, there's aged wines and prestige wines and everything your sweet little heart could desire.

Drink a lot of it, find your favourite, and then go back and make doubly sure.

Lastly, a word on Prosecco

I was praying these bubbles
Could quell all my troubles
Sadly though, this Prosecco
Is just sparkling muck-o.

I'm happier sinking
A litre of Buckie
Than bulk produced urine
From Valdobbiadene.
Women never make passes
At introduced gasses.

Frances wrote this whilst drinking Laurent-Perrier Non Vintage. Tasting really well, long and complex and really good with a bowl of cornflakes.

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