Over the last ten years or so there’s been a flood of fantastic new fizz flowing into our country from foreign shores, and for us sparkle-fans, that makes us very happy dishies indeed.
New Zealand, in spite of its tiny population, has always had a huge thirst for expensive French Champagne, and we’ve always been huge supporters of our own home-grown sparklers. However for those wanting to branch out and sample the best bubbles from beyond without breaking the bank, where does one turn? Well turn to the next page for a start, because we’ve hunted around New Zealand’s growing group of importers and distributors to find the most excellent examples of foreign fizz for under fifty bucks. And boy have we discovered some doozies. From an entry pool of 35 wines, 11 earned gold medal status, 14 earned silver and 8 won bronze – so the value-for-money quality out there in the kiwi marketplace is at an all-time high. Which is brilliant news because a corka Christmas is just around the corner.
Many sparkling wines around the world follow Champagne’s lead by using the traditional method or Méthode Traditionnelle, where still, ‘base wines’ are blended then a mixture of wine, yeast, and sugar is added to each bottle to kickstart a second ferment which creates the bubbles. The bottles are gradually inverted over time in ‘riddling’ racks so that the plug of spent yeast cells can be frozen, removed and replaced with a cork, cage and seal before the wine is released on the market. Spanish Cava is made using this traditional method, or metodo tradicional and is typically made from blends of Xarel.Lo, Macabeo, Parellada and sometimes Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Mainly produced around the town of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia in Catalunya, it’s also made in the county of Penedès and in Valencia, Rioja and even Extremadura. Prosecco in Italy is made from Glera grapes in the Charmat method, which means secondary fermentation takes place in pressurised stainless steel tanks. Once this secondary ferment is complete, the wine is filtered and bottled under pressure. The Charmat method is also known as the tank method. No matter how they're made, our top ranked wines are exceptional examples of amazing value sparkling wines from foreign climes. Enjoy!
TOP OF THE TASTING – Casa Boher Extra Brut Metodo Traditional – Gold Medal
An absolutely stunning blend of 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay grown in the Uco Valley region of Mendoza in Argentina, it’s gorgeously golden in the glass, rich, creamy and bursting with cashew characters, frangipane florals, impressive fullness and superb length of flavour. It’s a classically stylish winner. Spencerblockwines.co.nz
2. Campo Viejo Cava Brut Catalunya NV ($24.99) – Gold Medal
From Catalunya in Spain comes this excellent apple blossom stacked sparkler heaving with summer florals, savoury herbs and nougat notes. Made from Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada, this nectarine, apple and guava- gilded wine boasts dried herb complexity and has a rich, generously proportioned, incredibly textural mouthfeel. vineonline.co.nz
3. Dibon Cava Brut Selection NV ($25.99) – Gold Medal
From the Penedès region in Spain comes an excellent-value cava that’s highly floral, ultra- fresh and fleshed out with complex, apricot stone, green apple and guava notes, with biscuity textures to finish. Deliciously dry, and delicately cleansing, it’s a great example of quality, affordable, widely available Spanish cava. blackmarket.co.nz
4. Grande Cuvee 1531 de Aimery Brut Rosé NV ($29.99) – Gold Medal
Made in the traditional method from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir grown in the Limoux region in Southern France, this mouthfilling charmer shows soft pear and red apple complexity, pillowy mousse, clean cashew and soft berry notes, suede-like textures and excellent length. thegoodwine.co.nz
5. Rosell Boher Rosé Mendoza NV ($46.00) – Gold Medal
Rosell Boher and the Casa Boher wines are one of the most exciting new arrivals on the imported sparkling scene. With its orange blossom, apricot, shortbread and soft fennel and fig aromas and it’s bright, dry, yet richly structured, creamy almond complexity in the mid palate, this Argentinean rosé rocks. Spencerblockwines.co.nz
6. Vigneti Romeo Spumante Rosé Extra Dry NV ($19.99) – Gold Medal & Best Value
From Romagna, comes a rosé with cloud-like mousse, soft, strawberry and cherry complexity on the nose and a clean, vibrant, juicy, fruit-soaked palate. Beautifully balanced, energetic and our judges loved the fun label too. regionalwines.co.nz
7. La Gioiosa Prosecco DOC Bio Organic NV ($27.99) – Gold Medal
Bright, energetic and apple-driven, this organically-crafted prosecco from Treviso is incredibly clean, classically-structured, and shows excellent balance of classic citrus and biscuity complexity, with impressive minerality to finish. Blackmarket.co.nz
8. BRILLA Prosecco DOC NV ($28.99) – Gold Medal
We love a bit of bling on a bottle and the Brilla has sparkles in spades. It also has exciting florals, layers of lemon, red apple, green olive and lime on the nose and palate. Hints of cake batter and marzipan lead to a highly refreshing finish and great length of flavour. Finewinedelivery.co.nz
9. BRILLA Prosecco DOC Rosé 2021 ($28.99) – Gold Medal
Salmon-pink and crammed with Panettone dough, fresh cherry, red apple, cranberry and melon alongside a whisker of pepper and spice, it boasts a round, plush palate, yet it's also crunchy-crisp, perfectly prickly, and cleansing to finish. Super stylish. finewinedelivery.co.nz
10. Privat Brut Reserva Cava 2019 ($37.00) – Gold Medal
This little cracker isn’t just organic; it’s also sulphite-free AND it’s been aged for a whopping 20 months, when the norm for cava is nine months. Comprised of xarel- lo, macabeo, parellada, and chardonnay, it’s biscuity, lemon-laced and shows toasted sesame and soft, clean textures. Stvincentscave.com
11. Louis Bouillot Perle de Vigne Grande Reserve NV ($36.00) – Gold Medal
A spectacularly creamy, deliciously complex, juicy and generously lemon-licked style from Burgundy, crafted in the traditional method from a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligote. We loved the hints of Panettone dough and soft spice on the finish of this incredibly classy sip. Advintage.co.nz
Enter the dish tasting panel:
Bring on the Big Reds
Our next dish Tasting Panel will focus on New Zealand Reds . Results to be published in issue 115 of dish, on-sale 13 May 2024. Entries close on Wednesday 20th March. We'd love to see your wines so please enter here!