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Putting sparkle into the Holiday Season

To try to catch the closing dates for many online operations, there are two posts today. The first offers fabulous red wines for lunch while this one provides the sparkle that no Christmas should be without.

More sparkling wine is drunk at Christmas and New Year than at any other time so here are a handful of pointers to what should make your own celebrations go with a fizz.

There is a clear Scottish orientation to the quoted suppliers – many of whom offer on-line services anyway – but a check on the wine searcher website should help pinpoint other retailers.

Cava from Chardonnay?

First up is a cava centred around chardonnay instead of the usual indigenous Spanish grape varieties – and very well it works too.

After the energetic initial mousse of Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Reserva Brut (£12.55 at The Wine Palate, Bath Street, Glasgow or at www.winepalate.co.uk) comes very soft lemon based acidity, a creamy texture and the suggestion of a savoury edge.

Christmas at home?

Gusbourne Estate Brut
Gusbourne Estate Brut

Helped, perhaps, by climate change the quality of English sparkling wine continues to rise and here is one I can heartily recommend.

Kent’s 2010 Gusbourne Estate Brut Reserve (£30 at Oddbins) adds gentle hints of ripeness to the orchard fruit acidity and tangy grapefruit zest that sit behind its shrewdly balanced biscuit and almond depth.

Alternatively, any acidity enthusiasts looking for real vibrancy to their green apple and toasty influenced sparkling wines should take a close look at Henners Brut English Sparkling Wine (£24.45 at www.allaboutwine.co.uk).

Or with the traditional champagne

Taittinger Vintage 2008
Taittinger Vintage 2008

If only champagne will do – but budgets are tight – opt for the delightfully balanced soft apple and lemon fruit of Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (£10.99 at Aldi) with fresh, acidic edges that are enriched by skilfully integrated toasty touches to provide excellent champagne for the money.

Christmas though can be the time for luxury versions and so I suggest stepping up to the citrus centred 2008 Taittinger Vintage Champagne (widely available at around £50).

This has sharp tangerine and lemon acidity which is deliciously integrated into an attractive mango ripeness supplemented by a bready, toffee apple style backdrop.

Or possibly a less familar Champagne house

Gosset Grande Réserve
Gosset Grande Réserve

At the same level is the fantastic soft, minty and clean Gosset Grande Reserve Brut (£46.50 at Great Grog).

Toast and biscotti elements abound here but also combine well with an easy-going lemon pith-based acidity, honey and crème brûlée texture, flavours of pear and soft fruits and just a suggestion of minerality.

However, sticking with Gosset and stumping up an extra tenner or so will secure the even more mellow texture of 2006 Gosset Grand Millesime (£60 at www.champagnedirect.co.uk) with a touch more pinot noir than chardonnay (whereas the Grande Reserve is – just – the other way round).

The result brings you lovely floral, orange and grapefruit components with forceful acidity to contrast neatly with the biscuit edge and slate influenced concluding elements.

Any of these bottles (or those reds in the previous post) will gently ease you and yours into what, I trust, will be healthy, happy and great New Year. We, meanwhile, will be back in January with the usual insights into the hot offers of the moment.


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