An unusual sparkling wine from Italy, a great cava and a classic Champagne to bring in the new year
Finest* Pignoletto, Emilia-Romagna, Italy NV (£9.99, Tesco) I have friends who won't touch sparkling wine at most of times of the year, dismissing it as "expensive cider" or "acidic lager". But even they make an exception on New Year's Eve. We all do don't we? It's one of those festive things you just do without thinking, like watching sofa sale ads and The World's Strongest Man on Boxing Day. Often, for occasional fizz drinkers, champagne, and wines made in the same style, can come across a little too wincingly acidic and dry. Which is where a good, light, fluffy Prosecco such as Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Conegliano (£9.99), comes in: it's sweeter, airier, less intense than the French stuff. As is this bargain, fun, unusual Italian addition to the Tesco range – like Prosecco, there's none of the yeasty bready flavours of Champagne, just lively apple-and-peach fruit and sherbetty mousse.
Dominio de la Vega Cava Brut, Utiel-Requena, Spain (£12.25, Jeroboams) For those who, like me, crave real champagne and find all that acidity exhilarating – electric – rather than affronting, there are a lot of crazy-cheap champagnes on offer at the moment. Having tasted a few around the £10 mark, I still reckon you're better off steering clear of the region unless you have more than £20 to spend: between £10 and £20, I'd explore the many varied offerings from less well-known sparkling regions of France such as the very pure and very dry crisp apple-flavoured Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Triple Zero from the Loire (£17.50, Oddbins), or the finely chiselled, minerally Domaine Laurens Crémant de Limoux from the Languedoc. The much-maligned cava, too, gets interesting at this price, such as Dominio de la Vega 's rich biscuity example, from the Requena region to the south of Cava's traditional Catalan heartland.
Champagne Delamotte Brut, France NV (£26.95, Corney & Barrow) But what if it really does have to be The Real ThingTM? Many of the best value bottles in France's most northerly wine region are made by what the French call récoltant-manipulants, (producers who grow all their own grapes). Barnaut's all-pinot noir Grand Cru Bouzy NV is superbly rich and full for its £23.95 pricepoint (leaandsandeman.co.uk), while Dumagni Fils Extra Brut (£29.50, yapp.co.uk) is poised, precise, and tingling, and Champagne Ployez-Jacquemart Blanc de Blancs 2004, a simply gorgeous creamy, silky 100% Chardonnay (although, at £49.95 from bbr.com value isn't really the word I'd use). Pound for pound, however, the best champagne I've tasted comes from one of the region's lesser-known houses. Run by the same people as the legendary Salon, Delamotte's creamy Brut NV is an utterly stylish treat.
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