Week 8/8: Sparkling wine

I love champagne and I didn’t really know why, I’ll be honest. Was it the taste, the bubbles or really just that it made me feel sophisticated and classy. This course taught me that actually the smell, flavour and style is really superior than some other sparkling wine. With a few surprises.

We were asked to taste five different sparkling wine and try to identify if they were one of the following, and I am pleased to say I nearly, very nearly got it right.

English sparkling wine – Chapel Down Non Vintage

Cava – Codorniz Selección Raventos, DO

Prosecco – Brut Superiore DOC, Vento

Champagne – Marc Hubert Premier Cru Cuvee de Reserve Brut NV AOC

Cremont – Chateau Pech la Calevie Monbazillac AC

I could smell the prosecco first off, it just reminds me of getting too drunk on a unlimited brunch (yes I realise this is a contract to the classy image I was aspiring to when drinking champagne). I realised that I don’t like prosecco and if thats the only thing I took away from the course, I am happy. Too sweet, too sickly and not refined enough on the palette.

Cava was the next, this brand was a mix between champagne and prosecco. Slightly sweet yet much more acidic and better balanced. Interestingly, Cava is made in a similar way to Champagne, just a different region, weather and grape varieties so not surprising.

Cremont was delicious but a lacked the acidity that Champagne embodies, I would certainly choose this as an alternative to Champagne as it is much better quality for money and you can get brands that are hard to differentiate from Champagne. This brand wasn’t one of them but they are out there I promise.

The English sparkling was a joy. I have had Chapel Down before but not in comparison with Champagne in a taste test. I would say this was the biggest contender in this example of sparkling to Champagne. Slightly oaky, high acidity and light refined bubbles. Delicious but not cheap for a non-champagne at £22.00.

Finally the Champagne was the winner, I admit I thought the English sparkling was the Champagne in the first smell, but the taste gave it away.  Still slightly oaked but less strong on the tongue. This bottle was a mix off Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The acidity was just right and the bubbles light yet intense in the flute.  £29 so a fairly good price for the brand.

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