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Sparkling Wines

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Akarua Brut NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition Weekday Wines feature (see blue link below).

Akarua Brut NV - March 2019 Decanter review

The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north-facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50-hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. Akarua was re-introduced after many years to Liberty Wines by Tony Jordan, who makes their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been convinced of the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.

All the grapes are harvested from Akarua's 50 hectare estate on Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn which lies at 270 metres above sea level. The soils are fine and sandy with loam topsoil overlaying schist. Vine age is 12 years.

67% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from several blocks on the vineyard were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. All batches were kept separate. Juices were settled and racked to yeast fermentation in old oak barriques and stainless steel tanks. Once malolactic fermentation was complete, the base wines, together with up to 15% of reserve wines were blended to produce the Akarua Brut NV. The blend was transferred to bottle with yeast and a precise amount of sugar to undergo the secondary sparkling fermentation. The wine was then aged for a minimum of 18 months on yeast before riddling, disgorging and labelling.

Akarua Brut NV is a fresh aperitif style with floral perfumes and savoury bread dough aromas. With lovely balance and complexity, the palate is clean, has a creamy middle and a long, crisp finish.

£22.45

Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2018 edition review of Value Champagne (see blue link below).

Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV - December 2018 Decanter review

If exceptional had a name, it would be Champagne Alfred Gratien. Alfred Gratien Champagnes are handcrafted for guaranteed quality and consistency. A few miles away from Epernay’s bustling town centre, deep in the heart of a Champagne vineyard, are the Alfred Gratien Champagne cellars. It was here, on Rue Maurice Cerveaux, that Alfred Gratien set up his business and created his first cuvées in 1864. For over a century and a half, Alfred Gratien Champagnes have remained a family affair perpetuated by the expertise and know-how of their founder. For four generations, the Epernay-based Jaeger family have been handing down the trade of cellar master from father to son, ensuring the Alfred Gratien style lives on.

The pale yellow hue of this wine’s colour is complemented by its lively effervescence. The bubbles are small and quick to rise to a fine mousse. The nose is moderately intense yet complex. The sweet pastry, biscuit and orchard fruit notes are followed and enhanced by hints of citrus, white flowers and fresh butter. The initial taste is clean: this is a very silky and sparkling wine whose sugar content works well with its body. There is a certain chalky minerality and the texture is smooth. It is characterful without being overbearing. The finish is crisp, with a slight mineral undertone, and long at 6 to 8 seconds. It leaves an excellently balanced acidic aftertaste, with a sugar component that is undeniably pleasing on the palate.

Thi is an exemplary Brut Champagne, which places a great emphasis on the bubbles created in the wine. It has benefitted from its reserve wine content and its maturation in cellars. Superb complexity combines young aromas with notes gained through maturation in cellars.

Its balanced qualities mean it can be paired quite liberally. Avoid anything too salty, sugary, fatty or spicy, opting instead for balance. Ideal for your savoury or sweet-and-sour hors d’œuvre, and for apéritifs.

£36.60

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

These thoughts from the team at Bellenda sum them up perfectly. "We consider, believe, create: these three words constitute the synthesis of what Bellenda is all about, who we are who work there, our family, and our close bond with our land. We love exploring the vast world of sparkling wine. That is a world that holds an enormous fascination for us and enables us to express ourselves in so many ways: sparkling or semi-sparkling, with or without sediment, classic or Charmat method can be woven and combined together, depending on the fruit from the vineyard, on local traditions, or even on a simple desire to try one’s hand at something never before attempted."

Please click on the blue link below to see an excellent fiche technique for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bellenda.

Bellenda San Fermo Brut - fiche technique

£15.50

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

In each bottle of Bisol Prosecco Superiore, the traditions of a family that has tended its vines in the Valdobbiadene area since 1542 are combined with the history of a landscape whose generosity is only matched by the difficulty of cultivating its steep, rocky hills. Each Bisol Prosecco Superiore has its own, unique identity which varies depending on the nature of the specific terroirs in which the grapes are grown. After all, the Glera grape, from which this type of wine is made, is particularly sensitive to variations in the soil and microclimate.

"Crede" is a dialect word for clay, which is a defining feature of the terrain in Valdobbiadene in which the grapes for this Prosecco Superiore are cultivated. These ancient slopes - at one time the seabed - were formed as the land slowly buckled and curved upwards, arranging the strata of the soil almost vertically.

To view a fiche technique / information sheet for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bisol, please click the blue link below.

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore - fiche technique

£15.00

Bollinger Rose NV (1 x 75cl)

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"I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty." Madame Lily Bollinger.

A wonderful rose that is generous, rich, filled with red berry flavors while still having the core backbone of minerality and tension. A beautiful rose with a lingering finish.” 

94/100 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, November 2016, of the Bollinger Rosé NV

Champagne Bollinger was established in 1829 by Jacques Bollinger and to this day is still family owned.  Benefitting from ownership of 166 hectares of vineyards in the finest Premier and Grand Champagne Bollinger wines are defined as much by the vines the grapes come from, as by the blending process, or the House’s century old barrels in which the wines mature.

The essence of the wines comes from the 166 hectares of Premier and Grand Cru vineyards owned by the House in Avenay, Champvoisy, Cuis, Louvois, Tauxières and Verzenay, as well as the stellar Pinot Noir site La Côte Aux Enfants in the heart of Aÿ. Bollinger’s untamed beauty reflects the spirit of our time, when people seek luxury without artifice. This natural splendour can be observed from above the Avenay vineyard, where bees from the Bollinger hives pollinate an abundance of wild flowers which grow between the vines. This embrace of nature is fundamental to the Bollinger approach of respecting the environment, which has seen it be the first Champagne House awarded the Haute Valeur Environmentale certification. More than this, sustainable viticulture is a true commitment for the House, for fine Champagne is the product of a fine landscape.

At Bollinger, the brick walls, exposed wood floors, aged casks and rustic charm convey the beauty and tradition of a Champagne family, who have spent 190 years perfecting their secret of discreet luxury, the key to which lies in the quality and the detail of their wines. The natural, unassuming charm of the House continues with Cellar Master Gilles Descôtes, the grandson of a Champagne grower who has been amongst the vines from an early age. He is custodian of the five labyrinthine kilometres of cellars that run under Aÿ, permeated by the scent of fermented fruit, old wood and earth. These house the treasured Bollinger wines, including a matchless collection of over 700,000 magnums of reserve wines.

For an excellent full fiche technique for the Bollinger Rosé, please click the blue link below.

Bollinger Rosé NV - fiche technique

Bronze tones. On the nose, hints of red currant, cherry and wild strawberry along with a spicy touch, not unlike Special Cuvée. The palate has good structure, length, depth and vivacity, with a tannic finish due to the addition of red wine. A velvety mousse and lingering flavours of wild berries.

£38.95

Botter Prosecco Santi Nello NV (1x 75cl)

They say that a good wine needs time to reveal its qualities, but it also needs dedication and constant commitment. Few products can embody so much expertise and thousands of years of history as those made by Botter. It has passed through the careful hands of three generations for whom wine is a passion as well as a trade. They have responded to the constantly evolving market over time, in a process of ongoing expansion.

The Santi Nello is a pale light yellow colour, with fine bubbles. Its flavours and aromas are delicately fruity as well as slightly aromatic. This prosecco is well balanced and light bodied with a harmonious palate. 

£12.20

Botter Prosecco Spumante NV (1x 75cl)

They say that a good wine needs time to reveal its qualities, but it also needs dedication and constant commitment. Few products can embody so much expertise and thousands of years of history as those made by Botter. It has passed through the careful hands of three generations for whom wine was a passion as well as a trade. They have responded to the constantly evolving market over time, in a process of ongoing expansion.

The grapes for this Prosecco are picked in the second half of September.

The soft pressed must is stored in steel tanks for static cold decanting. The fermentation with selected yeasts is carried out at a controlled temperature of 18 °C and takes 8-10 days. After a storage period, the winemaker ensures the expected level of quality is achieved for this Prosecco Spumante cuvée. The wine is then filtered and stored in steel tanks with the addition of sucrose and selected yeasts for the second fermentation (Martinotti-Charmat method) at a controlled temperature of 14-15 °C. Once the wine has reached the required pressure levels, alcohol and sugar content, the wine is refrigerated and cold stabilized. It is filtered before bottling.

The Botter Prosecco Spumante has a crisp and delicate perlage. There is a pale light yellow colour, alongside a delicate and complex bouquet with fruity notes that are reminiscenrt of peach, green apple with second notes of acacia and wisteria. It is fresh and light on the palate, with balanced acidity and body; it proves itself to be harmonic with a long persistent aftertaste.

Ideal as an aperitif, it is a perfect combination to hors-d’oeuvres and delicate first courses. Also wonderful with sushi, fish and shellfish.

£11.95

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

The Première Cuvée is a very personal interpretation of the Champagne region and is the flagship of the Bruno Paillard style. A top quality wine, the Première Cuvée has the ability to survive any harvest The blend is made usingonly the first pressing of the grapes to extract only the purest juice - Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (33%) and Pinot Meunier (22%), part of which (20%) was in barrel for the first fermentation. This champagne is a blend of 25 vintages, dating back to 1985. Ageing takes place over a period of time that is always longer than the legal requirement; three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. 

The golden straw colour is indicative of the exclusive use of the first pressing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The primary aromas are of citrus - lime and grapefruit. Then the red fruits aromas start to appear - redcurrant, raspberry, morello cherries. When left to open up in the glass, the wine shows hints of dried fruits, which are sometimes exotic. The palate is lively and vivacious, thanks to a low dosage. The aromas on the nose are echoed in the mouth. There are primary flavours of citrus, almonds, and toasted bread, followed by redcurrant jelly but also dark fruits like cherry, fig and blackberry. As the wine opens up in the glass, and gets warmer, it expresses light plum and pear flavours. The palate is full, quite long with a very clean finish. The Premiere Cuvee champagne is an excellent aperitif. It matches divinely with cheese (Brie de Meaux, Camembert, aged salers), poultry and shellfish.

£38.55

Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Rose NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee Rose NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

A hymn to the bright delicacy of Pinot Noir, the Premiere Cuvee Rosé is named on account of its composition of only the first pressing. This multi-vintage rosé, made with Pinot Noir, is created in two ways: 1. White wine from Pinot Noir: after a quick pressing, and a fast separation of the skins, the juice is very pale and can be vinified as a white wine. 2. Red wine from Pinot Noir: is obtained by a prolonged maceration of the juice on the skins. A touch of Chardonnay brings the necessary vivacity to balance the fruits of Pinot Noir.

The blend is a first pressing of mainly Pinot Noir with some Chardonnay, the amount of which remains a secret. The reserve wines are a blend of 25 vintages, going back to 1985. The champagne is aged for three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. This wine has a very low dosage, (labelled as Extra Brut) at less than 6g per litre. It is a very pure wine.

The pink copper colour with a hint of raspberry when young evolves to salmon while ageing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The initial aromas of redcurrant and red fruits evolve to morello cherry, wild strawberry and violet while breathing in the glass. A touch of lemon denotes the discrete presence of Chardonnay. With age, aromas tend towards dark fruits like dark cherry, fig and blackberry. The palate reveals red fruit captured at full freshness. The finish is bright and long.

Pale in colour yet with a distinctive hue. This Cuvee has finesse and purity but is very fine and fresh. With subtle cherries, strawberries and nice overall acidity.

£45.65

Ca` Morlin Prosecco Superiore DOCG Conegliano e Valdobbiadene NV (1x75cl)

Finding a Prosecco of consistently good quality from a respected producer that offers value for money can prove almost impossible. However, renowned winemaker Matt Thomson (of Alpha Zeta fame) has come to the rescue and now works to produce a real Prosecco - clean, fresh, soft, frothing, uncomplicated, gulpable and above all, affordable  with Andrea Morlin of Conegliano and a grower friend in a modern, compact winery tucked into the hills of this beautiful region. As of the 2015 vintage, all Ca' Morlin wines have been certified organic. 

Glera grapes for this Prosecco are grown on 12 hectares of vineyards in Asolo, a sizeable quantity in this fragmented zone.

The fruit was picked relatively late and cool fermented in order to preserve the delicate aromatics of the grape. Both the first and second fermentation take place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The 'spumante' style of Prosecco is fully sparkling, with more carbon dioxide retained at bottling. Due to the quality of the fruit, they have been able to utilise a lower level of residual sugar than is usual with Prosecco, so the wines are drier and more drinkable as a result. This prosecco is labelled as 'Extra Dry' so is a drier style but still has the characteristic fruitiness you expect from prosecco.

Asolo, Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are the three areas that produce DOCG Prosecco. This Asolo Spumante is soft, scented and grapey, with delicious lightness and a long lasting 'mousse'. Perfect as an aperitif, it is best served between 6-8°C.

£15.95

Cantina Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero, Lambrusco Di Grasparossa di Castelvetro NV (1x75cl)

Deep ruby red in colour with an aromatic nose, strongly reminiscent of fresh strawberries. The palate is richly soft, generously fruity and delightfully refreshing, offering ripe, concentrated red berry fruits such as cranberries, raspberries and strawberries, a fine, persistent mousse and a soft finish. Low acidity and very little tannin combine to create a deliciously fruit driven, thirst quenching wine.

£13.45

Cantina Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena Lambrusco di Sorbara Premium NV (1x 75cl)

In 1850, Cleto Chiarli moved from the countryside to the town of Modena, together with his wife Lucia and their four children: Adalgisa, Oreste, Anselmo and Aristide. In 1860 he decided to dedicate himself to the making of Lambrusco. This proved to be a momentous turning point which would indicate the direction for future generations and which would bring about nothing short of a revolution in the selling of Lambrusco. The Company flourished and was able to reach an impressive production of one million bottles in 1910.

The wine undergoes a light maceration followed by a slow (or Pris de Mousse) fermentation in closed tanks. Lambrusco di Sorbara is an elegant wine which is pale and rosé-like and tends to be dry and lively.

Deep rosé in colour, with clear fragrances of strawberry and brushwood. This wine's taste is fresh, pervasive, mineral, and at the same time velvety and surprisingly pleasant. Dynamic.

£15.55

Cantina di Gambellara Monopolio Durello Spumante 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Cantina Di Gambellara Monopolio Durello Spumante 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

The Cantina di Gambellara was founded in 1947 and has nearly 300 members who farm 600 hectares. The co-op is based in a small denomination on the border between the provinces of Vicenza and Verona only a few miles east of Soave. Last year, this cantina merged with the Cantina dei Colli Vicentini (from whom we buy the Ca’ di Alte wines) and Alberto Marchisio is now responsible for winemaking.

The Durella grapes are an ancient autochthon variety grown in the Lessinia area. The vineyards are mainly located on high hills with a south sun-exposure. The soils here are of volcanic origin.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the growth cycle in the vineyards was characterised by abundant rain, followed by a hot and dry period. A little bit of rain in the second half of August helped, as did a drop in temperatures. This allowed for perfect health in the grapes, making this 2018 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

First fermentation took place in steel autoclaves under controlled temperature. Second fermentation then took place at low temperatures in steel autoclaves with selected yeasts, according to the Charmat (tank) method.

100% Durella.

This wine is pale yellow in colour with delicate aromas of papaya and plums. On the nose, there are fresh notes of minerality and apple. The finish is fine and long.

£11.95

Casa Bianchi Brut Traditional Method NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Casa Bianchi Brut Traditional Method NV - October 2016 Decanter review

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750m above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. 

The grapes for the Bianchi Brut come from the Doña Elsa and Las Paredes vineyards, which are situated in the San Rafael zone of Mendoza at 730 to 790 metres above sea level.

60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir.

The grapes for this sparking wine were vinified in the purpose-built, sparkling wine facility constructed by Bianchi outside San Rafael. The wine is made according to the 'Traditional Method' of sparkling wine production. The must is fermented between 16° and 18°C. After fermentation it is aged on its lees for a further 12 months before disgorgement and release.

Bianchi Brut is an excellent value sparkling wine with an intense biscuit and fruit character on the nose and good richness on the palate. Fresh and clean, it finishes dry.

£14.30

Castillo Perelada Cava Brut Reserva NV (1x75cl)

The Perelada estate, an impressive fortress and palace that was previously owned by the Counts of Pereleda and a Carmelite monastery, was purchased in 1923 by Miguel Mateu, an active political and cultural ambassador of the time. Don Miguel revitalized the wine producing tradition of the estate records showed that there where vineyards planted in the Medieval period. He turned the estate into his own private cultural centre, building up the collections which would become the Castle museum which is today open to the public.

A blend of the three traditional Cava making grapes: Parellada (35%), Xarel·lo (45%), Macabeo (30%).

After primary fermentation, the wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 15 months before disgorging. Brilliant pale yellow colour with a generous stream of fine bubbles. The nose is clean and fruity with light yeasty notes from ageing. It is pleasantly bone dry, with a round and refreshing mouthfeel and nice flavour complexity.

See the link below for full details of the wine, in Parelada's own data sheet.

Castillo Perelada Cava Brut Reserva NV - fiche technique

This is a fine Cava, and that offers markedly better quality than its price might indicate.

£12.70
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