Franciacorta is Italy’s answer to Champagne and we’re excited to get the word out. A very different wine to Prosecco, Franciacorta is made in the same way as Champagne. However, it’s made in far smaller quantities than Champagne,
meaning that some of the most special traditions of sparkling winemaking live on. Take this wine from Bellavista, arguably the leading estate of this prized region, where bottles are still painstakingly hand rotated by skilled artisans in the cellar over a period of weeks (something almost exclusively done by machine elsewhere).
Expect exuberant flavours of apple and vanilla, dried fruit flavours from aged reserve wines and a rounded texture from cellar ageing. Welcome to pure sophistication from the vineyards outside of Milan.
The term Crémant refers to French sparklers made outside Champagne but in the traditional Champagne method (with the secondary fermentation in bottle). Simonnet Febvre’s Crémant is made in the north of the Burgundy region with all the right ingredients and certainly all the style of Champagne without carrying the price tag.
The fruit: 100% Pinot Noir; the soil: Kimmeridgian chalk; the climate: cool continental. Aged for 24 months on the lees before disgorging, this Blanc de Noir has delicious biscuity fruit, with hints of lemon and brioche, rich and fresh, and it’s difficult to distinguish from Champagne itself.
Offering superb value for money, we can’t recommend this highly enough for Christmas gifts and entertaining.
Gatinois Champagne comes from a small, family-owned domaine in Aÿ, and exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards (Champagne’s highest classification). Pinot Noir is the backbone of the Cuvée, giving rich structure and luscious, ripe fruitiness. About 20% Chardonnnay grapes make up the balance, bringing tension, floral aromas and lively aftertaste. In the winery, a traditional, vertical hydraulic press is still used, because of the gentle rhythms it brings to the pressing process, and the subtle aromas which seep out slowly as the grapes are pressed.
The colour of Gatinois Champagne is often slightly tinged with pink, thanks to the carefully sorted Pinot Noir grapes which have been brought to perfect maturity before picking. Its palate is generous and flavoursome, with outstanding balance and a superb, refreshingly long finish.
Wiston Estate is recognised by many as England’s finest vineyard, with chalk soils like the best Grand Cru sites in Champagne. Wiston have the only ‘Coquard’ wooden Champagne press in England, releasing only the very best juice, which is fed by gravity into old white Burgundy barrels from Montrachet, resting until it’s perfectly mature and ready for the second fermentation.
For anyone still unconvinced about the elegance, finesse and purity of English sparkling, Wiston Cuvée 2013 is the wine to banish your doubts. It has just been awarded ‘Best English Sparkling Wine’ coming first of over 100 wines in blind tastings. Wiston Estate was also awarded ‘English Winery of the Year’ at the GB Wine Awards. Lemon, creamy peach, white flowers and sweet pastry notes are at the fore. It’s supremely elegant, and texturally it’s on a different level from most other English sparkling wines.