A touch of sparkle from New World wines
Liam Campbell choses his top crop of sparkling wine for under €20..
A blind tasting of good value New World sparkling wines under €20 brought a dramatic variety of colours – white, pink and even outrageous red from Australia, New Zealand and Chile.
Many New World winemakers can reduce their production costs to the customers' benefit by converting still wines into sparkling by the Tank or Charmat Method. Carbon dioxide gas (CO2) is generated naturally from a second alcoholic fermentation in a large tank of wine rather than in the actual bottle, as created in the Champagne region. Sugar and yeast is added to the still wine to initiate that second fermentation and CO2.
Less familiar is the dark-as-a-coalmine sparkling Shiraz. Produced in Australia since the 1890s, it's a "must try" for any red wine enthusiast. However, don't match the potent 13.5pc alcohol with volatile guests. Like plutonium, a little goes a long way as the gassy bubbles carry the alcohol into the system rapidly. Chilling all sparkling wines helps to dissolve the volatile gas into the wine and keeps it sparkling, bubbly and safer to open.
1) Rosé Sparkling Cuvée, Oyster Bay, New Zealand 12pc
Pale onionskin colour with delicate raspberry aromas. Delicious fresh cranberry and raspberry flavours. Chalk dry through to the long finish. Feminine and very popular with the ladies. Couple off with a prawn risotto.
€20.99, reduced to €17.99 during summer promotion, nationwide at Dunnes Stores, Londis, SuperValu and Tesco .
2) Sparkling Wine Brut, Cono Sur, Bio-Bio, Chile 12pc
Fragrant with lemon zest and lime juice. Acidity from the Riesling is interwoven into the lemon peel and Rich Tea biscuit flavours. The Pinot Noir adds body and depth while the Chardonnay crowns with elegance. Serve with sushi.
€18.99 at Reddy's, Waterford; Glencar Inn, Donegal and Joyce's, Galway. In Dublin at Dunnes Stores; Savages, Swords; Fresh Stores; Redmond's, Ranelagh and Martin's Fairview.
3) Sparkling Shiraz, Engine Room, McLaren Vale, South Australia 13.5pc
A shocking sparkler. Midnight black hides the starry bubbles after the initial purple spume subsides, but their popping is audible if the ear is near. Dry with a flavour range from blackberry pie to juicy black pastille. The most macho style of sparkler and one for the lads to chill with a mixed grill and chips, curry sauce optional.
€19.99 at The Parting Glass, Enniskerry and Number 21 Midleton. In Dublin at Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Mitchell's, CHQ Building, IFSC and Glasthule and Baggot Street Wines.
The next Torres sensory 'Wine & Dine in the Dark' event takes place on Tuesday, July 29 with 6.30pm and 9pm sittings at Zaragoza, South William Street, Dublin 2. Proceeds to National Council for the Blind. Tickets €49.95 per person. Includes five-course dinner with wine. Booking at 01 679 4020 / clubtorres.com