There's something uniquely satisfying about drinking sparkling wine.
The hiss or pop as you open the bottle, the anticipation as the bubbles fizz up the glass. I don't think any other drink gives me quite the same buzz.
I drink fizz all the time. Far from keeping it for special occasions, we'll open a bottle whenever we see fit. Not always Champagne of course, because there's so much more to sparkling wine than just that famous region east of Paris (although I think I'd say my favourite sparkling wines do indeed come from Champagne). Tuesday night Pet Nat? Cremant with fish and chips on a Friday? Sunday afternoon Champagne? All equally fantastic and equally as justified.
One more time for those in the back - fizz is not just for special occasions.
So here we've put together a selection of incredible Champagne alternatives for you to explore. And for good measure, we've included a few of the best examples of the real thing too.
First up is Cremant de Loire.
Cremant is traditional method sparkling wine made in France - but not in Champagne. It's produced all around the country, here in the Loire valley but also in Burgundy, the Jura, Alsace and other wine producing regions around France. This from Domaine Landreau is packed with crunchy green apples and refreshing acidity. It's a really nice sparkling wine to try if you usually drink Prosecco and wanted to try something a little different and a touch drier.
Next up we head over to South Africa. This may not be the first place you go to when thinking of buying sparkling wine, but this Blanc de Blancs made from 100% Chardonnay is really fantastic value for money. If you like your fizz to be on the richer side this is for you. With 3 years ageing on the lees before disgorgement to add a creamy texture and yeasty richness, this really hits the spot. An absolute belter with basically anything deep fried. Fish & chips or some salt cod croquettes would be my go-to!
So Pet Nat is one of the oldest ways of creating sparkling wine. You simply cork or crown cap the wine before the initial fermentation is finished, thus trapping the gas inside and retaining a lighter level of fizz than traditional method.
This can lead to a little bottle variation, and from the few bottles I've tried the Crazy Crazy has a tendancy to go, well, crazy when opened - so do bear that in mind.
This is an Austrian field blend of Huxelrebe, Wuerzer and Muller Thurgau. The grapes have around 2 weeks of skin contact before being bottled, so this is pretty bonkers as the name suggests. It's definitely one to try if you want a sparkling that's completely different to your usual style. The resulting wine is an explosion of crunchy cider apples, citrus, pear and quince fruit with a pithy texture and zippy, mouthwatering acidity.
Ok - so onto the first of three Champagnes for the feature
As a general rule here at Reserve, we don't work with many of the big name grande marque houses. Charles Heidsieck (who we'll talk a little about later) is our main one and aside from that, we tend to work with smaller, grower producers.
Champagne Delavenne, based in and around the south facing village of Bouzy, have been family owned since 1920 and have 9 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards across the Montagne de Reims sub region of Champagne. Pinot Noir reigns supreme here, with Chardonnay more popular further south in the aptly named Cote des Blancs. Bouzy is one of the warmest terroirs in the Montagne de Reims and gives lovely ripe, full bodied wines. In fact it was once a region renowned for its still red wines. This is rich and full bodied with exotic fruits and beautiful elegant finish.
It's only right to get a sparkling rose in this list and Lete-Vautrain are one of our favourite producers.
Their Cote 204 Brut is our house champagne and their wines offer fantastic value for money right the way through the range. With 8 hectares of vines across the Westerly Vallee de la Marne, centred around the village of Chateau-Thierry, Pinot Meunier takes centre stage here filled with vibrant red fruits and a smooth round texture. This is perfect with fruit dessert dishes like a classic Manchester tart.
Last but by no means least, the original Champagne Charlie. Charles Heidsieck- the French socialite who travelled the world embodying French glamour wherever he went.
The signature Brut Reserve uses 40% reserve wines from older vintages to add depth and complexity to the wines. It's full of freshly baked brioche, sun baked tropical fruits and a rich, creamy texture. For us this is the top of the tree for Grand Marque non vintage house styles. Matured for up to 4 years with up to 60 different crus going in to the blend to keep the consistency of quality, the cellar masters at Charles Heidsieck have on multiple occasions been awarded 'Best sparkling wine maker in the world' at the London International Wine Challenge - and we can see why.
If you're wanting to sample a few options, we've put together a triple pack with a selection of the above wines including free shipping which you can find here. You never know, you just might find your new favourite.