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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sparkling Wines for Celebratation

Sparkling wine and celebrations go together, thus the festive season is a great opportunity to pop a few corks and enjoy some bubbly with your besties and favourite relatives.

The vast majority of our bottle fermented sparkling wine is made from the traditional blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We used to call it Méthode Champenoise before the French got all proprietorial about the name. The traditional method uses a secondary fermentation in the bottle under a crown seal, by adding more yeast and sugar after the first ferment is finished, producing characteristic CO2 bubbles.

A cheaper process, the Charmat method of producing bulk quality sparkling wine, is to make the wine in bulk and the secondary ferment is done under pressure in sealed stainless steel vats. And a third method produces simple cheap sparklers by injecting CO2 into still wine before bottling (AKA the SodaStream method).

Here is a line-up of very classy sparklers to share with someone special. As someone once said (possibly the painter Francis Bacon), “Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.”

Champagne Bouby–Legouge France Brut NV $NZ 54.25
Grapes grown in the  Vallée de la Marne, midway between the two famous Champagne towns of Épernay and Reims. Yeasty aromas of brioche and subtle herbs. In the mouth, it’s classic French fizz flavours of toast, yeast, a hint of clover honey and oyster shell.

Schramsberg  Calistoga California Brut Rosé NV $NZ 77.50
An attractive salmon pink, this is a voluptuous blend of 61% pinot noir and 39% chardonnay.  Hints of cherry cola and yeast aromas. Lovely creamy palate of sour cherry, toasted almond, canned peach and strawberries. Beguilingly ripe and soft, it has just 1.11 gram of sugar per litre.

Pares Balta Cava Catalonia Spain NV  $NZ 22.79
Produced from three indigenous Spanish grapes – Parellada, Macabeu and Xarel-lo.  (just don’t ask me to pronounce them). This is a bone dry crisp sparkler. Mineral, yeasty aromas lead on to a clean and crisp palate of brioche and soda water with a hint of Granny Smith apple and citrus.

Sartori Prosecco Italy NV $NZ 25.85
Ticks all the boxes as a typical Prosecco. Pale green gold in colour, this one smells of citrus blossom and pear. Light and crisp flavours of apple juice and Nashi pear and a hint of sweetness, with a dry refreshing finish.

Larmandier-Bernier Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs  France NV $NZ 92.92
Aromas of creamy vanilla. Rich palate of crème brulée, crisp apple and citrus with a hint of marzipan. Dry, clean finish.

West Brook Methode Traditionelle Blanc  2012 $NZ 39
Just to show that NZ can make a very respectable traditional method bottle fermented style. Made exclusively from their Waimauku estate Pinot noir grapes. On the nose it’s subtle yeasty brioche with a hint of clover honey. Lively foaming effervescent fine bubbles tickle the palate with gentle flavours of prince melon, honey, cherry and strawberry. Dry and crisp mineral finish. 
Availability all except the West Brook are available from Herne Bay Cellars. West Brook: cellar door in Waimauku
Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine & Food Tours in Auckland. See:

Phil’s new cellar door book ‘NZ Wine Regions – A Visitor’s Guide’ is now available on Amazon Kindle