Oliver Zeter Sauvignon Blanc Brut, Pfalz, Germany 2019 (from £22.95, mumblesfinewines.co.uk; weaverswines.com; novelwines.co.uk) Putting together a choice of summer wines for the Observer Food Monthly this month, I found I had a glut of sparkling wines that, for one reason or another, couldn’t be squeezed into my final selection. This isn’t unusual in itself (there were only four slots on the list). But it was a reflection of a trend I’ve been noticing over the past five years or so: of all the categories or styles of wine, sparkling is the one that is evolving at the fastest rate. There’s a lot more of it, for one thing, and it comes from a lot more places. But there’s experimentation, too, with a lot more grape varieties now getting the bubbly treatment. Given its enduring popularity as a still wine, it’s no surprise that sauvignon blanc is among them, although few fizzy sauvignons match the poise and clarity of Oliver Zeter’s, with its tangy greengage, guava and elderflower.
Wiston Estate Rosé, West Sussex, England NV (from £28, Waitrose; wistonestate.com) Another combination that owes as much to marketing departments as it does to winemaking decisions is pink fizz. As with sauvignon blanc, it’s a matter of taking a big success in the still wine world (rosé), factoring in the bubbling sales of fizz and hoping the combination of the two will create a multiplier effect. That’s certainly the story with prosecco rosé, which was given the official go-ahead by officials in prosecco’s northeastern Italian home last October and has already been breaking sales records. It’s a recipe that can work nicely, adding just a touch of raspberry cordial to the ice-cream soda foaminess in La Gioisa Prosecco Rosé NV (£13.99, or £8.99 as part of a mixed case of six, majestic.co.uk). But for a really thrilling pink fizz treat, England is a better bet, in a wine such as Wiston Estate’s champagne-inspired example, with its stylish steely swish of acidity and redcurrant purity.
M&S Found Blanquette de Limoux, France NV (£10, Marks & Spencer) The 21st-century sparkling wine revolution isn’t all about the shock of the new. It’s also about the Renaissance of sparkling regions that may have been overlooked or looked down on when Champagne’s producers dictated the terms of what sparkling wine should be. This is perhaps most evident in France, where the Loire is one of a number of French regions posing an increasingly serious challenge to Champagne’s sparkling wine hegemony, with wines such as Bouvet Ladubay Zéro, Saumur, Loire, France 2016 (£16.50, laywheeler.com) blending chardonnay and chenin blanc for a super-charged, super-dry, super-refreshing apple-scented hit. Further south, few sparkling regions offer better value than Limoux, a hilly cool-climate enclave in the otherwise warm Languedoc, and source of the fizz component of Marks & Sparks’ snappy new off-the-beaten-track Found range. Filled with green-apple juiciness and soft mousse, it’s a very well made example of these excellent bottle-fermented sparkling wines.
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