Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Votes Are in for Top Fizz

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Votes Are in for Top Fizz

Article excerpt

Byline: andrew campbell ON WINE

CHAMPAGNE is the undisputed king of the sparkling wine world - yet there's plenty of young pretenders bidding to steal its crown.

Since the English first massproduced sparkling wine in the late 1600s, fizz has spread across the globe and is made in almost every major wine region. And the popularity of bubbly continues to rise.

Sales increased by 15 per cent last year - adding the sparkle to an otherwise flat UK booze market with overall sales up by only 1 per cent. Prosecco is the big winner with sales nearly doubling. But which sparkling wine is the best and crucially which is best value? In a test lacking any scientific or statistical merit whatsoever, myself and fellow wine writer Jane Clare presented seven different bubblies to 35 people at the Conwy Feast Food and Drink Festival at the weekend.

Appropriately, as we opined in the shadow of Edward I's bastion, spittoons were sandcastle buckets - not that they saw much action. The research was in the form of a show of hands at the end. The wines included three International Wine Challenge (IWC) Gold Medal Winners and ranged from PS6.79 to PS35.99 a bottle. The voting was surprisingly close.

Classic The joint winners with seven votes each were: Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2009 (PS35.99 from Majestic reduced to PS30.58 with a two-bottle discount).

This IWC gold medal winner is class in a glass from arguably England's finest producer. Their Classic Cuvee was served on the Royal Barge and at Westminster Hall to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Crafted from the classic Champagne grapes, 55 per cent chardonnay, 26 per cent pinot noir and 19 per cent pinot meunier, grown on Nyetimber's vineyards in West Sussex and Hampshire, the 2009 is a gem with beautifully rounded flavours of lemon, melon and brioche. The nose is good too and it has a long creamy finish.

Co-op Les Pionniers 2004 Brut is no stranger to this column. Made by top Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck, I first reviewed this in 2012 and was blown away by its full-flavoured style. I wasn't the only one to be impressed: it scooped IWC gold in 2012 and 2013, silver in 2014 and recently walked away with three top awards at the inaugural Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships including Best Value and Best Supermarket Champagne. …

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