Sparkling winemakers around the world are producing bubbles of exceptional quality, writes John Saker.
IN ALMOST EVERY country where good wine is made, a part of that production is given over to sparkling wine. All of these producers who grow their grapes outside the limits of the Champagne region must call their wines something else, of course, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make wines of outstanding quality. There are sparkling winemakers around the world who are every bit as committed to perfectionism as the renowned “chefs de caves” of Reims and Epernay. Our sparkling wine category is always a broad church, containing wines of different styles from a number of countries. Most of the entries are naturally from New Zealand, but that’s not the only reason our top 10 is dominated by Kiwi wines. We’re very good at making bubbles, and we’re getting better at it all the time.
The tasting panel
For this sparkling wine tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by owner-director of Oenotec Pty Ltd, Australian Dr. Tony Jordan. Tony has enjoyed an illustrious career at the top of the sparkling wine world with various roles at Moët Hennessy, Domaine Chandon, Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay. Rounding out the tasting panel was John Saker, author, and Cuisine wine writer.
Ready to drink
Cellaring recommendations are not given for the champagnes and sparkling wines reviewed in this issue, as they arrive on the market ready to drink. A few may surprise with longer bottle age, especially younger examples of vintage wines, but most are released with enough age already. cu
CHAMPENOIS KNOW-HOW combines with northern Californian terroir to deliver this complex, accomplished wine, where chardonnay narrowly shades pinot noirin the blend. It’s a rich, Vegemite-infused style, quite developed and yeasty, yet has freshness, great energy, and drive. “It would not be out of place in a Champagne line-up,” noted John Belsham. The perfect partner for smoked salmon blinis.
Kiwi sparkling rosés don’t come much better than this, a personal favourite …2
Daniel Le Brun may no longer be in this particular building, but …3
MiruMiru is M?ori for bubbles and also stands for “consistent excellence” among …4
Nautilus is another star in the Marlborough sparkling galaxy. Lemon characters, laced …5
Pale copper in colour, this rosé is delightful. Don’t be fooled by …6
No show without Lindauer, the perennial overachiever on the local bubbles scene. …7
Central Otago has a place at the top table thanks to this …8
This is a lively, fascinating wine. A seam of flintiness gives it …9
One of a trifecta of 2011s in our top 10, this wine …10