Other Sparkling Wines

2014: Gold: 1; Silver: 9; Bronze: 11; Commended: 11
2013: Gold: 4; Silver: 5; Bronze: 7  
Must-list index: 40%
Overall performance SWA 2014: C+

Here’s a conundrum for you. Punters like sparkling wine, but they don’t like paying big money for it. So what’s the solution? Answer: why, cheaper versions of bubbles of course.

Except that it isn’t quite as simple as that. We had a big entry of ‘other fizzes’ this year – and a huge range of styles. Everything from lush Franciacortas through unambitious cavas to New World Champagne wannabes and sparkling Kiwi Sauvignons.

And overall the tasters quite liked what they were seeing. There’s certainly far less bad winemaking here than when this competition started eight years ago, and the prices have, for the most part, remained pretty reasonable. Despite cost increases, there is still a good spread of medal winners to be found here around or below the £10 mark.

Moreover, the fact that we’re seeing the same names medalling here every year – Deakin Estate (Victoria), Quartz Reef (Central Otago), Domaine Carneros (California) and Viña Undurraga (Chile) – suggests the emergence of some sort of genuine New World sparkling hierarchy.

So, why only one Gold medal? Because Champagne and Prosecco between them cast a long shadow that doesn’t leave much daylight for anything else, however good it is.

‘Customers opt for big names and it can be very difficult to talk them out of this,’ said Ignacio Campos of Hawksmoor Seven Dials. ‘But if you can, there are some very rewarding and good value sparkling wines.’

Certainly, the one wine to make it on to the Gold List fitted that description.

‘I like that creamy, opulent, slightly oxidative style,’ said Hamish Anderson of The Tate Group. ‘It would accompany anything with mushrooms involved.’

FOOTNOTE: As well as sparkling wines other than Champagne, Prosecco and ones from England, this section encompasses those that are red, frizzante, semi-sweet or that have a lower abv.

From the Tasting Teams

‘Customers expect Champagne lookalikes but the best of these were simply easy-drinking fizzes.’ Olivier Marie, Le Coq d’Argent

‘Pricing at more than £10 for this kind of sparkling wine just doesn’t work in England.’ Mauro Pirovano, Le Pont de la Tour

‘Over the £14 mark your mind becomes dominated by comparisons to Champagne – your commercial mind takes over.’ Hamish Anderson, The Tate Group