With the festive season fast approaching, it’s the key time for bubbles and with the sparkling category more competitive and diverse than ever, operators have never had so much choice.
It used to be that Champagne bossed this time of year but with the recent recession and today’s Brexit situation, consumers have become more canny when searching for that special sparkle. Big names, bling and no substance is definitely out and quality and value for money is definitely in.
UK consumers are also showing experimental tendencies and a thirst for trying the new and the different whether that is food or drink.
It’s these factors that have helped drive consumer interest in other sparkling wines from different regions and it’s a category which will continue to evolve. So as you adjust your sparkling menu pre-Christmas, here’s some drink for thought:
If you’re serious about making it work, it’s vital that you can bring Champagne to life in the bar. It’s about educating people on Champagne’s heritage, production methods plus the craft and people innovating and doing exciting things. If the category is going to attract new consumers and get people to pay a little bit more, instead of opting for a cheaper sparkling option, we need to start telling people the story behind the bubbles.
Forget style over substance, think small, craft, family-run and the best quality, think Tribaut. Tribaut-Schloesser was founded in 1929 in the heart of the Champagne region in Romery, near Epernay. Four generations of the family have now built upon their passion and expertise to produce a range of impressively delicate and reﬁned Champagnes. Tribaut’s 25ha of vineyards are situated on sunny south west facing slopes in the very best locations between the Montagne de Reims and the Marne Valley. They are planted with the three principal varietals allowing all of their Champagnes to be produced solely with their own grapes
Festive Pick – Tribaut Blanc de Blanc
A 100% Chardonnay with 7.5gm and 48 months ageing; delicate and refined with a precise palate of citrus fruits and a touch of honey rounded out by brioche notes.
The most celebrated of Proseccos come from the steep hillside vineyards of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, the original production area for Prosecco. Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG can only be made in the Treviso province of Veneto on the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
Lying halfway between the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea, the slopes have a unique microclimate. Full sun ripens the grapes and high altitude and breeze ensure freshness even in the hottest summers. The steepness of the hills also means that everything—from pruning to picking—is principally done by hand.
Casa Vinicola Bennati is an old established house founded in 1920 by Annibale Bennati in the area of Cazzano di Tramigna just a few kilometres from Soave. Annibale was the son of the famous Antonio, or ‘Toni Recioto’, as he was called in honour of the raisin wine of that name.
In this vinicultural heartland, their vineyards are in a prime position and are protected by the surrounding hills. High quality is assured by astute management and hand-picking is still carried out with optimum care.
Festive Pick – Bennati Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Extra Dry
Stylishly delicate and fragrant with an attractive light mousse, upfront grapey nose and balanced palate.
If it’s some Spanish sparkle you’re looking for, the Masia Can Mayol’s range of bio-dynamic sparkling wines from Penedes have been stand out performers during the summer. Located high in the mountains, 50ha of vines are given to environmentally friendly production in 70 year old vineyards. Emphasis is on the traditional Xarel-lo varietal (hence the brand name) whilst Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have been introduced in recent years. With the know-how of four generations of winemakers to call upon, the vines have a minimal treatment of organic fertiliser once every three to four years with a determination not to over-work the soil. Thus, production is of high quality and low yields in line with their bio-dynamic principles
Festive Pick – Loxarel Reserva Familiar
Made with Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes, Loxarel Reserva Familiar is aged for 48 months, made completely by hand and only disgorged when ordered. Light in taste and complex with almond pastry notes, finishing clean and elegant.
A Spanish Curve Ball
Bodegas Pablo Padín began making artisanal wine following the traditional methods employed by the family, however the evolution of their business allowed them to introduce advanced technology and modern infrastructures, whose results are high quality Albariño wines. Part of this innovation lies in experimentation, none more so than in their decision to create the ﬁrst sparkling Albariño – an original concept for Rías Baixas wines and a surprisingly successful wine, full of personality. The grapes are picked by hand, and production is limited to just a few hundred cases each vintage. Quality and character is assured by being made according to the traditional Méthode Champenoise producing its secondary fermentation in bottle.
Festive Pick – Feitizo da Noite Sparkling Albariño
A fresh wine with a very refined character notable for its creamy mouth-feel and a light crispness that makes it perfect to drink as an aperitif or accompanying light foods.