I did wonder if it was appropriate to think about fizz at the moment, seeing as it’s so inextricably associated with good times. Trump’s and Cummings’ departures aside, there hasn’t been much to celebrate this year, and even if we can get together with our families this Christmas, there’s still little likelihood of parties.
And yet there is something uplifting about bubbles. As Lily Bollinger put it in her much-quoted aphorism: “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad.” She would no doubt have approved of the latest Bollinger release, a limited-edition 007 Champagne (12%) to celebrate the (embarrassingly delayed) new James Bond film, No Time To Die. Yes, at £55, it is pricey (though I found it for £39.95 at ND John in Swansea), but if you know someone who is a Bond fan – and who doesn’t? – it would make an apposite present. As would the superb Justerini & Brooks 250th Anniversary Cuvée (12%), which is extraordinarily well priced at £22.93 a bottle (including duty and VAT), even though delivery is a whopping £18 unless you’re ordering £300 worth of wine. Maybe split a case.
I’m also grabbed by the idea of half-bottles at the moment, not least because so many of us are marooned on our own. Yes, I know they’re overpriced – you can get a whole bottle of Lidl’s rich, toasty Comte de Senneval (12.5%) for a fraction of the cost (it will set you back all of £12.99), but that’s no good to a single person living alone, is it? I’m particularly taken with the stylishly packaged half-bottle version of Pol Roger Brut Reserve, which is widely available for about £24.99, and Louis Roederer’s Brut Premier, currently on offer at the Little Fine Wine Company for £18.95. Little Fine Wine also has a half-bottle of the flamboyant Ca’del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvée Prestige for £21.95, which is cheekily wrapped in similar gold cellophane to Cristal. Even dinkier is Moët et Chandon’s Mini Moët (widely available at about £13, 12%), which are just begging to be popped into a stocking (hint to the fam, there).
The other sparkling wine story this winter is rosé prosecco, a description that has just been approved by the authorities (it was previously called rosé spumante). Obviously spotting an opportunity to cash in, it’s now being gussied it up in some rather fancy bottles – the real bargain among which is the Extra Dry Prosecco Rosé 2019 (11%) Lidl has for just £6.49, though at £14.99, Bellavita’s very pretty Villa Sandi Il Fresco Rosé Prosecco (11%) is by no means overpriced (it’s also available for the same price at Selfridges and Amazon).
And while we’re talking prosecco, you might like The Wine Society’s Bellini Case (£22.50), which includes a bottle of prosecco and two nectars from German producer Van Nahmen – the rhubarb one, in particular, is absolutely delicious, with sparkling water as well as wine.
Lidl, which is cut-price central this year, also has a smartly bottled Crémant de Loire for £8.49 that tastes like something that costs twice the price (crémant is the general description for sparkling wines from France that aren’t champagne).
And if you fancy pouring something completely different this Christmas, why not serve a pet nat (AKA pétillant naturel), the natural wine world’s answer to champagne. I love Casa Belfi’s joyously festive Rosso Bio Frizzant, a delicious red (£19, 11.5%) from Shop Cuvée that would be smashing with the Boxing Day leftovers. And if you’re grabbed by the idea of serving red fizz on the big day itself, try Andrew McPherson’s The Full Fifteen Sparkling Classic Red (£12.49, or £9.99 if you buy any 12 bottles, Averys or Laithwaite’s; 14.5%), which is almost cranberry sauce in a glass.
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