THIS week I was going to begin a countdown to festive wine choices; until I saw a Christmas tree in a sitting room window in Crosby and thought “that’s just too ridiculous”.
So I’ve imposed a festive embargo, tucked the tinsel under a cushion, hidden the fairy lights under the dog basket and kept the holly and the ivy tangled in a shoebox.
You’ll have to wait until next week – but I can still talk about sparklie wines can’t I?
Wines which you could buy at this miserable end of November and keep – doubt it though – until the mistletoe dangles, until those little berries demand a sweet, giggly, fizz-fuelled peck on a cheek?
My first sparklie is The Society’s Saumur, Brut (£8.95 www.thewinesociety.com) It is made in the Loire town of Saumur by quality winemakers Gratien & Meyer from the chenin grape – and they add a little cabernet franc to accentuate its fruitiness. This has a delicate fragrance of citrus, is lightly honeyed and has a genteel sparkle Downton Abbey would be proud of.
Great for Christmas parties – sorry, end of November get-togethers – and a fair price.
Morrisons Best Champagne Brut NV is a champers which doesn’t break the bank (I found it online – www.morrisonscellar.com – this week at £14.99) but is perfect when in a celebratory mood.
It delivers the brioche, buttery, plentiful bubbles you hope for but with a lightness of sprinkled fairy dust. It is made of two-thirds pinot noir and one-third chardonnay and is aged for three years before release.
The champers has picked up Best Buy awards two years on the trot from Which? Magazine and last Christmas it was marked higher than any other bubbly sold in UK supermarkets.
Recap. It’s £14.99.
Then if it’s a sweet touch you want, the lightly sparkling Sacchetto Moscato IGT Veneto NV may satisfy. (From www.nakedwines.com – £8.99 or £6.95 if you’re an investing Angel.) It’s an easy start to an evening at 7% ABV and has a sherbert-dip lemony sweetness which is a little too much at first sip; but is an addiction by the last. Downside is, the fizz doesn’t last long in the glass. Girls’ night in. With cake, if you like.
Finally, another Italian wine shivering with light bubbles. Ombra Prosecco Frizzante NV (£9.99, www.virginwines.co.uk). The name comes from the tradition of drinking prosecco in the Campanile in Saint Mark’s Square in nearby Venice (Ombra means shadow). It’s a gentle offering from the glera grape which releases a light aroma of pear and a glimmer of tangerine to taste.
ASDA has unveiled a new range, The Wine Selection. Master of Wine Philippa Carr says it “creates a recognisable mid-tier brand that uses everyday, approachable language”.
Marques del Norte 2011 Rioja, from the selection, is £4.98 – and for under a fiver you get a balanced, smooth glass of red loaded with berries and a shaking of spice.
Also new from ASDA, de Bos Chenin Blanc 2012 (£7.98) is a Fairtrade wine from South Africa.
It’s very drinkable with a split personality – light, soft citrus aromas followed by bright-sharp, balanced, acidity of pineapple and stone fruit to taste. It is kept on its lees for six months and the result was an “ooh, not bad” from the other side of the lounge.
Have a very merry late November – next week I will don a paper hat to share thoughts on Christmas celebrations.