Oh, the fuss about Prosecco! It’s a perfectly nice drink, and we stock one, which is a fine example of the wine. Headlines in the press trumpet how sales of Prosecco are going through the roof, going ballistic, hitting the stratosphere. It is a fact that more bottles of Prosecco are being sold than champagne, but they are a lot cheaper. And Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) outsells both. Prosecco is cheap because it’s cheap to produce; it’s made in big tanks, whereas Cava and champagne is made by a process of fermentation within each bottle – a much more laborious, expensive and labour-intensive way of making sparkling wine. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
There is, however, something uniquely luxurious and delicious about good quality champagne (please note “good quality” – there are lots of depressingly inferior champagnes about which are not worth the price), and, if your budget stretches to it, a bottle of champagne is a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas. Try our Guy de Forez, made from Pinot Noir grapes; it comes from a village in the far south of the Champagne region, Les Riceys, where they specialise in growing Pinot Noir, and it is not expensive for champagne at £19.95 a bottle. It also comes from an individual grower, not from a co-operative or a vast international champagne house, and the family who make it are very serious about quality, all the way from the grapes they grow in their vineyards to the final blend that they eventually bottle.
For white wine, you could live dangerously and avoid the ubiquitous Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Try a white Rioja, such as our Navajas Crianza at £8.95, made from the Viura grape, matured in oak barrels, exhibiting a very distinctive and un-Chardonnay, un-Sauvignon flavour; or a Torrontés from Argentina, aromatic, different and interesting; or a Chenin Blanc from the Loire, such as an Anjou Blanc, bracingly crisp, with fascinating flavour.
Or you could play safe with a Chablis – try the Chablis 2012 from the Naulin family, based in a village outside Chablis, Beines. This is full of verve and vigour, and has sufficent body to go with the turkey if you are not a red wine drinker.
Next month – red wines for Christmas.
Written by Tom Innes