There’s supposed to be a Prosecco shortage heading our way this summer. Girlies everywhere are buying in bulk in a blitz mentality as their favourite sparkling wine could disappear from shelves.
But never mind Prosecco, cast your thoughts beyond its pretty, simple flavours.
There’s another Italian fizz I love much, much more than Prosecco … Franciacorta.
The wines are made in the heart of Lombardy and are produced in exactly the same way as champagne, and that’s the bit that makes it so much sexier than Prosecco.
If this was an Italian flavour footie penalty shoot-out, it would be Franciacorta 5; Prosecco nil.
Here’s one… DOCG Franciacorta Brut’Animante’ Barone Pizzini (£19.99, www.vintageroots.co.uk).
It won a gold medal at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2015 and is blended from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot bianco. It has a delightful freshness, but in surprising contrast has extra layers of complexity, a bit of toast, and a hover of honey.
Also from Vintage Roots is another from the Barone Pizzini’s organic vineyard – DOCG Franciacorta Satèn (£23). Satèn wines must be made only from white grapes chardonnay or pinot bianco. This wine is 100% chardonnay.
It tinkled in my ear prettily (yes, I listen to wine) and brioche, hazelnuts, cut apples and a whimsy of stone fruit excited the senses.
Elsewhere, Marks & Spencer Franciacorta NV (£19.99) isn’t available in all stores, but if you see it, grab it to enjoy its green apple aromas, stone fruits and a crush of buttery biscuit base.
Have a mooch round independent wine merchants to spot a Franciacorta; one you may find is a delightful range from Bellavista (online, there are several to choose from at www.slurp.co.uk and www.thedrinkshop.com). I’m a huge fan.
To a couple of sparkles new this summer. McGuigan Frizzante (on offer as I write – £19.99 for three bottles at amazon.co.uk) which is from award-winning McGuigan Wines. The foil topper looks all set for a cork-popping … but when you remove it there’s a screwcap holding back the gentle little bubbles from south eastern Australia.
Frizzante wines are shimmering sparklers – they’re not packed with bubbles, but they tickle and float away like a leaf on a stream. Flavour-wise, there’s soft lemon and fresh apple from the semillon grape which are very refreshing. This was a gentle first drink on a summery afternoon before I opened some cava …
… which was this one. Codorníu Cuvée Barcelona Brut (RRP £12.99, Sainsbury, Waitrose) is made in the same way as champagne but with native Spanish grapes. The bottle is as pretty as a picture (I’d like to pop a candle in it) with a golden “silk-screen printed design” which doffs a cork to Codorníu’s Art Nouveau-style winery in Barcelona.
The cava grapes have worked their magic to deliver a commended in Decanter’s 2015 awards. There’s tinned pear (you know, those really juicy ones with the syrupy juice) on the nose, with apples and cream dreaming along in the mouth.
Also in my glass …
The annual 31 Days of German Riesling promotion is in full swing this month (www.31daysofgermanriesling.co.uk). It is organised by Wines of Germany and is a much-deserved shop window for this wonderful German white wine.
I tried Cliffhanger Riesling 2013 (RRP £9.49, Tesco) from the steep slopes of Mosel. If it’s a barbecue you’re having then this flint-edged citrus bite of a lemon and lime wine will cut through the fattiness of a sausage.
I tried it with a “what have I got, what will I cook” mix of scrunched baked chicken, chilli and lemon-squeezed, coriander-laced couscous. Bloomin lovely.
Published in the saturday extra magazine July 11, 2015