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Other Sparkling Wines

Myriad styles, great prices and overall decent quality. The corners of the world less well known for sparkling wine are, it seems, really starting to get the hang of fizz.

As you might expect, the ‘Other sparklers’ section threw up a weird and wonderful selection of wines from all over the world, including semi-sweet and lower abv bubbles. Everything from fairly classic French crémants and studious New World wines made with Champagne grapes, to decidedly frivolous pink moscato frizzantes.

And in fact our tasters found reasons to reward almost every style. The ‘guilty pleasure’ award went to Wirra Wirra’s delightfully frothy Mrs Wigley Moscato, which also, deservedly, picked up a By The Glass award.

‘It’s not for everyone,’ said Hakkasan’s Christine Parkinson as she pinned it on to the Gold List in the final round of tasting. ‘But you would sell bucket loads of this. All the research indicates that this is what people are looking for now.’

Go on, put it on the list. You know you want to…

If the lower-end was about wines that Richard Brooks of Caroline Catering described as ‘pleasant, drinkable wines for people who want to quench their thirst’, once prices got up around the £10 level our tasters were looking for rather more.

‘When it comes to the traditional method styles, at a higher price, then customers will be expecting quite a lot of character,’ said Bread Street Kitchen’s Ram Chhetri.

Into this category would fit such Silvers as the Bellavista Franciacorta and the Domaine Carneros, both pricier wines that have performed well in this competition in the past, and which won over plenty of admirers again here.

‘Customers do think of sparkling wine as an alternative to Champagne, so I found the higher end of the flight, where there were some autolytic characteristics and a fuller palate, to be more attractive,’ said Cubitt House’s Matthew Cocks. ‘However, the medal winners needed to be well priced and very good quality as there is a limit to what customers will spend if it doesn’t say Champagne on the label.’ 

All in all, then, a good section where the improvements in winemaking were obvious in the small number of truly awful submissions. The only losers? The various blanquettes and crémants, which didn’t do much wrong, but didn’t generally inspire either, managing only a handful of medals and nothing better than Simmonet-Febvre’s Silver.

‘Wine professionals might not get excited by wines like [the Wirra Wirra Moscato], but everything is telling us that we should put stuff like this on our list.’
Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan Group

‘These are wines that have to go on by the glass, as well as sell by the bottle, so I was looking for pure, fairly straightforward flavours and good price points.’
Mark Thornhill, The Cricketers, Witney