A bottle of bubbles, be it Champagne or some fine English sparkling wine, is what helps make Valentine’s Day feel special, whether it’s with a meal at a nice restaurant or just in front of the TV with a loved one and a takeaway.
Adding English sparkling wines into the mix might sound brave – critics used to claim that English wine tasted of rain – but, with a growing number of Champagne houses investing in English vineyards, there can be no doubt that top English sparkling wine is more than a match for traditional French bubbly.
Valentine’s celebrations this year are set to be a rather different affair, but that’s no reason to skip the fizz. CALIBRE has put together a rundown of our favourites, including a few new options to liven up your wine cellar.
Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs
Maison Perrier-Jouët has been producing quality wines since 1811. Using the Chardonnay grape variety, it has created a brand which is known for its elegant, lightly floral flavours.
The Blanc de Blancs will work wonders on Valentine’s Day, with its apple-forward fruity nose. There’s a delicacy to the flavour, with a gentle citrus note edging ahead of floral tones, with subtle carbonisation giving it a wonderfully soft texture. It both tastes and feels fresh and revitalising.
The founders, Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose-Adélaïde Jouët both had a keen interest in botany and nature, so it seems fitting that Perrier-Jouët has launched a new range of fully recyclable eco gift boxes. Elegantly embossed with the brand’s legendary anemones, the boxes are produced entirely from natural fibre and embossed with water-based ink, marking the brands latest step in making its entire gifting range fully sustainable by 2022.
What: Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs
Where: The Whisky Exchange
How much: £65
Ashling Park Estate English Sparkling Wines
Ashling Park Estate in the South Downs dates back to 1822, but it wasn’t until just over 20 years ago that the fertile soil of the hay meadow was repurposed as a vineyard by the current owners, Gail and Matthew Gardner, with the expertise of winemaker Dermot Sugrue.
The range offered by Ashling Park includes two sparkling wines, Cuvée NV and Sparkling Rosé 2014, that both won a Trophy Award in the WineGB Awards 2020.
Ashling Park Cuvée NV is a blend of 60% pinot noir, 30% chardonnay and 10% pinot meunier grapes, a blend that creates a fresh flavour with an intensely fruity hit on the palette. The crisp finish and fine carbonation leave a clean, pleasant feel in the mouth.
The Sparkling Rosé 2014 cuts the chardonnay out and increases the share of pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, giving a deeper fruity flavour, with plum tones evident. The finish is longer than that of the Cuvée, with a sharp, acidic note which stimulates the taste buds.
What: Ashling Park Estate Cuvée NV and Sparkling Rosé 2014
Where: Ashling Park Estate
How much: From £30. Receive a free Pointer’s Pour Mini Gin with code APREVGIN.
Simpsons Wine Estate Canterbury Rose 2018
This sparkling rosé is both a patriotic and sensible seasonal choice. Aged for 15 months on lees, Canterbury Rose is delicately pink with a fine mousse and is simply beautiful. It offers a lovely nose of red cherry, strawberry and orange. The palate is no less inviting, with a rich, full-bodied but refreshing mouthful of Valentine’s bubbly. Lovers of fizz and rosé should snap it up.
What: Simpsons Wine Estate Canterbury Rose 2018
Where: Grape Britannia
How much: £30
Black Chalk Classic 2016
Created using three classic varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, this English sparkling wine uses oak barrels and time on lees to provide depth and complexity.
The result is a perfectly balanced, crisp sparkling wine that is perhaps the ‘Krug’ of English fizz. Generous to a fault, it offers a rich and lively palate of brioche, caramel, raspberry and citrus. This isn’t a trade down from prestige Champagne – it competes on its own terms.
What: Black Chalk Classic 2016
Where: Black Chalk Wine
How much: £35
Lanson Le Rosé
Maison Lanson is one of the oldest champagne houses, founded in 1760, and prides itself on its close working relationship with growers who, along its own 57 hectares of vineyards, provide the grapes to create the characteristically fresh, elegant wines Lanson is known for.
The delicate, fruity, yet fresh flavour of Le Rosé is achieved through blending a palette of reserve wines of vintages spread over 20 years. It also includes 7% red grapes, such as pinot noir from Bouzy and pinot meunier from the Marne Valley, which are then combined and aged to create Le Rosé.
The first aroma from this delicate rosé is sweet, yet floral, with red berries evident. The gentle bubbles enhance the flavour, which subsides in the mouth with a long, pleasant finish. It’s got a different depth to it, but reminds us very much of Lanson’s Black Label.
What: Lanson Le Rosé
How much: £48