The first of this year’s festive round-ups is sparkling wines – any kind of alcoholic fizz except Champagne (Champagne will follow). They’re in ascending order of price, give or take an occasional special offer, so it's a skip around the globe taking in white, pink and red en route. You can find other stockists in the UK and retailers in other countries at wine-searcher.com.
V8+ Vineyards Prosecco Sior Sandro Extra Dry, Veneto, Italy
Light, crisp, vibrant and drier tasting than it actually is. Flavours of pears, spiced apples and lemon zest. One of the most enjoyable and best value Proseccos I’ve had in a long time. From an online Italian retailer new to the UK (see also the Franciacorta below).
Miguel Torres Chile Cordillera Brut 2013, Lontue Valley, Chile
Clean-cut, nicely lean, red apple and pithy lemon-lime flavours. Pinot Noir in crisp, restrained mode.
£13.49, thedrinkshop.com; 14.99, Taurus Wines
Cavicchioli & Figli Lambrusco di Sorbara Vigna del Christo 2015, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Lambrusco as it’s meant to be: red (in this case more of a deep pink), dry and invigoratingly crisp. A dark pink froth of rose petal and tangy, tart red fruit flavours that you can use to break the ice at parties, cut through sausages and salami, wash down tomatoey pasta or pizza or accompany fish.
Domaine de L’Idylle Crémant de Savoie Brut Pétille Idylle, Savoie, France
I was torn between this and Yapp’s Domaine Aubert sparkling Vouvray, but opted for this because it’s more unusual – Savoie Crémant only became appellation contrôlée a year ago – and wines from this Alpine landscape have become fashionable recently. It has a breezy apple freshness filled out with a little apricot and cream and is a blend of at least 60% local grapes Jacquère and Roussette with Pinot Noir.
£15.60, Yapp Brothers
Chandon Brut, Mendoza, Argentina
Traditional-method Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Moët et Chandon’s operation in Argentina. Rounded toast, vanilla and crème caramel flavours complementing lemony fruit. A good, cheaper alternative to Champagne.
£16.99, or £12.99 mix-six price, Majestic
Calmel & Joseph Crémant de Limoux Brut, Limoux, France
Quietly fruity, softly creamy, well-balanced, refreshing blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir (60:30:10) made by the traditional method with 15 months’ lees ageing followed by 15 months in bottle.
£16–18, St Andrews Wine Co, Richard Granger Wines, South Downs Cellars, Noble Green Wines
Mas de Daumas Gassac Rosé Frizant 2015, Pays d’Hérault, France
Pretty pink, fresh, bouncy, bubbly essence of fresh strawberries. Sweeter than medium dry, drier than medium sweet. Delightful. Addictive. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Mourvèdre and a few other bits and pieces.
£17.99, Joseph Barnes Wines
Le Grand Cros La Maitresse Rosé Brut, Provence, France
Rosé from Provence with bubbles. Pale salmon colour, flavours of sweet red apples, redcurrants, spice and cream with a silky texture and crisp, dry, herb-edged finish. Made by the traditional method from Grenache, Syrah and Chardonnay and aged on its lees for nine months. Stylish.
£20.95, Pall Mall Fine Wines
Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rosé, Lombardy, Italy
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (65:35) made by the traditional method and aged on lees for at least two years. Woodsmoke, raspberry, strawberry and fresh herb flavours, a little nuttiness and complexity and a racy green-apple finish.
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, England
I couldn’t choose between two new releases, the Classic Cuvée and the 2009 vintage Blanc de Blancs. Both are better than most non-vintage Champagne and take this celebrated, pioneering English estate to new heights. The Classic Cuvée, a typical Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (54:34:11), is the first multi-vintage (instead of single vintage) and is based on 2011 with 30% reserve wines from each of the four vintages back to 2007. After nearly four lees on its lees, it’s a glorious combination of freshness, creaminess and nuttiness with apple, almond viennoiserie and a hint of acacia honey. Perfect now, but no hurry.
£32.99 Waitrose; £36.99, or £24.99 mix-six price, Majestic
Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2009, England
All Chardonnay and released this year after six years on its lees. Intense, citrusy and chalky with the finest of bubbles, a complex, creamy mid-palate, biscuity, lightly toasty notes and a long, rapier-like, mineral finish. Could be cellared a decade.
£31.75 on offer, Hennings Wine; £31.95 on offer (normally £35.95), slurp.co.uk; £37.95–£43.95, The Oxford Wine Co, Berry Bros & Rudd, Harrods
All photographs by Joanna Simon