‘The Pinot Noir dominance gives it biscuity bite on the palate where there is great elegance as the peachy punch of the fruit comes through’
THERE have been several good excuses for celebratory drinks over recent weeks. A landmark birthday, England’s progress in the World Cup and just the fact that we’re enjoying one of the finest summers I can remember.
However, according to some reports, those in search of carbonated fizz to mix into their gin and tonics or spritzers may find themselves disappointed by a shortage of CO2.
Luckily, thanks to the magic of yeast - a single celled fungus, naturally fermented - wine produces its own CO2 and is not affected by gas shortages.
Sparkling wine made to the Method Champenoise rules produces its own yeast initially but some more, mixed with sugar, called the Liqueur di Tirage, is added after fermentation.
There are several yeasts indigenous to Champagne such as Pasteur or Epernay.
As this is added to the closed bottle the wine then undergoes a secondary fermentation and then autolysis but remains fizzy.
While the wine matures, the lees or dead yeast cells add further flavour before they are disgorged from the bottle and the final ‘dosage’ is added to give some sweetness.
To me the magic of sparkling wine is all about the array of toasty, bready flavours that appear during this process.
Two samples I tried recently showed the differences you can find in Champagne and Champagne-style wines.
Champagne Gremillet Brut Selection NV (£21.99 Virgin Wines, The Bottle Shop, Cheadle Hulme £138.99 per case of six
Kwoff, Bury) Wow! Did somebody pop the toaster on? This blend of 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay has autolysis notes in spades. In fact, it’s just the type of Champagne I like to drink on its own without the need for food. The Pinot Noir dominance gives it biscuity bite on the palate where there is great elegance as the peachy punch of the fruit comes through. To finish there’s a fair dash of chalky, mineral acidity.
For my money this is simply one of the very best budget Champagnes out there.
Distributed by Stockport’s Boutinot you’ll find this in bars and restaurants across the region.
Jenkin Place Brut Cuvée 2013 (£29.50 Winos, Oldham)
English sparkling wine is probably the country’s finest wine product; vying in some cases with Champagne for quality, although quantities are tiny in comparison.
But what better way to relax while watching Wimbledon than a glass of this?
Chardonnay dominates here, grown in the greensand soils of the North Hampshire Downs.
The vineyards, where hops once grew, sit on sheltered south-facing slopes at 100 metres above sea level where there are also fragments of chalk.
With this bottle the aromas are different and there is a whiff of smoke about the green apple aromas. The floral palate is rich but very focused and linear in expression.
A great example of English sparkling wine.
Gremillet Brut selection