In the last fortnight, I have been fortunate enough to attend 3 different sparkling wine tastings. On the plus side, yes, I do have a rather tasty job. On the minus side, as sparkling wines make such perfect appetisers, I seem to have been permanently hungry.
I have already reported on the English sparkling wines which reinforced the view that they are as good as any in the world.
I have also spent a day in Barcelona, selflessly touring the Cava region to find the most exciting wines. My conclusion is that, if you want your sparkling wine to be light, refreshing, perfectly balanced, subtly flavoured and not too expensive, then Cava has plenty to offer. I did find some exciting wines but they tend to be much more limited in production and less likely to be exported. BYWine will keep you informed if the situation changes.
And there was also the annual Champagne tasting in London, not surprisingly a jam-packed event which brings together around 60 Champagne producers and a very thirsty British wine trade. This is as much an opportunity to gossip as to taste and I must admit to approaching the event in a spirit of enjoyment rather than critical scrutiny of the wines on show.
What was clear to me is that Champagne has never been better. If one is determined to find fault, then one will. But if one wishes to delight in the subtleties and sheer drinkability of one of the world’s finest wines, then there is much to admire and relish. There are occasions when only Dom Perignon will do, of course, but other well known Champagne brands are as good as ever and there are a host of lesser known producers who are worth keeping an eye open for. These would include (with importers, who may sell by mail order.):
Penet-Chardonnet Champagne Warehouse
André Jacquart Top Selection
Paul Déthune Thorman Hunt
Gratiot-Pillière Armit Wines
Henri Giraud Coe Vintners
Janisson et Fils Champagne Warehouse
Serge Mathieu Stone, Vine and Sun