Independent alternative bubbles case review

Think of sparkling wine and the two names that will come to mind are Champagne from France and Prosecco from Italy.

The former is made from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and gets its fizz and flavour from fermentation in the bottle and long aging – a minimum of 15 months.

While Prosecco, made from the native Italian grape glera, offers something a little more frivolous… and affordable. But there’s much more to bubbles than these two famous wines.

In France alone there are dozens of different types of fizz, some based on the Champagne model whereas others aim for something totally different. Then there’s Cava from Spain, and Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and yes England all make excellent wines using the same grapes as Champagne.

There’s a wide world of fizz to explore. To set you off on your effervescent journey, we’ve picked three distinctive wines: a Crémant de Bourgogne, a sparkler from the Languedoc and a pink Cava.

These are all delightfully fresh invigorating wines that offer beautifully sophisticated flavours at a reasonable price. While they will certainly appeal to lovers of Champagne or Prosecco, they are three highly individual wines with plenty of character that deserve to be judged on their own merits. All of them are delicious sipped neat as an aperitif but they’re also brilliant food wines as we shall see.

Folie by Gassac NV

(Mas de Daumas Gassac)

  • Pairs well with: Goat’s cheese tart or roast chicken cooked with lots of herbs
  • Review in brief: A creamy lightly-sparkling Chardonnay that’s packed with floral, herbal and citrus notes with a long creamy finish. Totally Irresistible.

Here’s something a bit unusual, a sparkling Chardonnay from one of the greatest names in the Languedoc in the south of France, Mas de Daumas Gassac. This estate is famous for its long-lasting red wines but it makes more affordable wines like Folie by Gassac. While it is made from a Champagne grape, it gets its fizz from a similar method to Prosecco, in a pressurised tank, but it’s not a lot like its Italian cousin either. This method known as Charmat means that the wine majors on fresh fruit flavours like lemons and apples but there’s also a delightful richness and creaminess. It’s almost like a slightly sparkling white Burgundy and its gentle fizz means it’s perfect for those who find Champagne too bubbly. They exist!

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Domaine du Bicheron Cremant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Blancs NV

(domaine du bicheron)

  • Pairs well with: Shellfish or even fish and chip
  • Review in brief: A lean, elegant and lemony wine with delicate little bubbles and a long nutty finish on the palate

Blanc de Blancs means that this wine is made entirely from chardonnay. It’s also made using the same method as Champagne but this comes from Burgundy instead. This part of France has a long and proud tradition of making excellent sparkling wines which tend to be incredibly good value for money. Domaine du Bicheron is a family-owned quality producer in the south of the region which also makes some delicious still wines. Its Cremant de Bourgogne spends 18 months aging on its lees (dead yeast cells) which gives it a creamy, nutty texture alongside its racy citrus fruit. Your guests will think this is much more expensive than it is and there’s no better sparkling wine with oysters or other shellfish.

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Parés Baltà Cava Pink NV

(Parés baltà)

  • Pairs well with: Excellent with salmon both smoked and fresh
  • Review in brief: Orange peel and toastiness on the nose, then on the palate it’s dry with notes of cherry and a brioche

The quality of Cava has come on in leaps and bounds in the past ten years, no longer is it the bargain basement alternative to better-known sparkling wines. At the forefront of the Cava revolution are premium producers like Parés Balta, based in Penedés near Barcelona, which is entirely organic. Like all Cava, this is made using the Champagne method so you get those toasty flavours from aging but it’s made from native Catalan grapes. These are two classic Cava white varieties Parellada and Macabeo with around 30 per cent of the red grape garnacha (aka grenache and from Aragon originally) which gives this wine its pretty colour and red fruit flavour profile. The result is something elegant and complex, a world away from the budget Cavas of yore.

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Looking for a summer red? Pour a glass from our edit of the best chilled red wines