I know, I know….I committed myself at the end of my last piece to recommending some fizz for V Day. Why? I’m not St.Valentine’s greatest fan. Time was when I could – did - wax lyrical about a Beaujolais Saint Amour, or a Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses.
But there’s only so much St. Amour a man can hold down. As for Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, whatever the erotic story behind the wine, when was the last time you could afford one of the most expensive premier cru red Burgundies going?
Maybe I am just an unromantic curmudgeon, or maybe my reluctance is more to do with the rampant commercialism, the vacuous couples staring at each other in gloomy restaurants as romantically as chess players, or the notion that romance is a just one day in the year thing.
Some say you shouldn’t drink bubbles at all on Valentine’s Day because rather than put you in the mood for romance, the intake of all that carbon dioxide can backfire, as it were. I resisted the many blandishments of PRs trying to ply me with Valentine samples, but here are a few reccos for those less cynical than me, i.e. most of you, and of course some suitably romantic music to go with them.
Lindauer Special Reserve Brut Cuvée NV, New Zealand
I always have a soft spot for this excellent pretty-in-pink fizz from Lindauer, not just because it’s such great value, but because it really works as a fine fizz, with loads of flavour, a hint of champagney biscuityness and a lively, tangy crisp raspberries and cream mousse.
John Lewis? Not this one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p_jeoOkhq0
Waitrose, £13.99; Majestic £14.99, buy 2 save £4 = £9.99 (until 3 March)
Roederer Estate Quartet , Mendocino, California
This is a fine Champagne method sparkler, an Anderson Valley blend from romantic Mendicino, using the champagne grapes chardonnay and pinot noir in a refined fizz with subtly toasty aroma and richly creamy mousse whose decent proportion of mature reserve wine adds dimensions of complexity and flavour.
Jansz Tasmania Premium Non Vintage Rosé, Tamar Valley, Tasmania
A consistently successful medal winner at the Decanter World Wine Awards, this is a delicate fizz based on pinot noir and chardonnay with aromas and flavours of raspberry and subtle undertones of ginger and spice adding texture and complexity, while the summer pudding finish is bright and dry.
One Fizz, Two Hearts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppRQEXhNC-o
£12.95, £15.25, Fraziers Wine, http://www.frazierswine.co.uk;
Saxtys Wines, http://www.saxtyswines.co.uk;
2009 Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, West Sussex, England
It doesn’t have to be just be patriotism that inspires you to go for an English sparkling wine and in the case of Nyetimber it needn’t be, because this superiorvintage fizz made from the champagne grapes chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, and by the champagne method, delivers a beguiling rich and biscuity fizz with the typically tangy fresh dryness that’s become of the hallmarks of the best English sparklers.
Another Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwpMEbgC7DA
2007 Ferrari Perlé
Made from pure chardonnay high in the Trentino hills at the Ferrari estate’s Villa Margon, this stylish Italian méthode champenoise sparkler wowed Wine Gang masterclass attendees in Bath before Christmas. With an intense, delicate biscuity and toasty fragrance, excellent weight and depth on the palate, plus a creamy rich mouthfilling mousse, a hint of almond and a seductively textured fruit quality brings about a rousingly fresh and savoury finish.
No va-va-voom jokes please. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxqnFJ3lp5k
Les Pionniers Champagne NV
This is the Co-op’s excellent own-label fizz produced by the remarkably consistent Heidsieck stable. Good value on sale at full price, but now this fine fizz, an amalgam of soft-cushioned bubbles and biscuity flavours behind a spine-tingling freshness, has come down to a humble £16.99 until 25 February.
Night and Day?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxg2JbWA7Nk
£16.99, down from £19.99, until 25 February, The Co-operative
Berrys’ United Kingdom Cuvée Rosé, Grand Cru
One of the great rosé Champagne buys of the moment, this 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir belnd from Benoît Marguet, is pale bronze in colour with a lively swirl of pink bubbles fine fresh and intense aromatics and very fruity in fact on the palate, but also nicely concentrated and full-bodied with lots of flavour intensity; rich and yet delicate at the same time, with finely textured mousse and an excellent finish.
Poison Cup? On the contrary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkHRCzZ9YaM
£29.95, Berry Bros & Rudd.
Henriot Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Lovely fresh and subtle toast, vanilla and honeycomb nose, quite deliciously full-flavoured chardonnay and beautifully balanced too, seemingly floating on a mousse of creamy-textured bubbles with a lively appetizing and elegantly savoury fresh finish.
Night Falls….: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HshGsILGlqw&feature=kp
Charles Heidsieck Rosé Reserve
If you like the delicious Charlie Brut Réserve, it’s worth paying that little bit extra for the rosé, a beautiful bronze pink rosé with fine berry fruit flavours, a touch of toastiness and a light raspberries and cream mousse that skips daintily across the tongue before gliding down effortlessly.
Fill up your Jar of Hearts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v_4O44sfjM&feature=kp
Philipponnat Reserve Rosée
Forget the slightly strange spelling of rosé (something to do with morning dew?), this exceptional pale bronze fizz from Philipponnat shows behind the creamy-looking bead, a lovely light savoury toasty element on the nose, very rich and complex fruit with a suggestion of reserve wine maturity and richness, i.e. more complex than simply fruit, yet equally a deliciously rich toasty fizz with powerfully textured creamy bead of bubbles; long and lingering flavours.
Let me get what I want: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBYXRLYYb6A
£44.99, half bottle - £26.99. Les Caves de Pyrène, Selfridges
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne
In the bell-bottomed bottle, so shaped that it won’t fit your wine rack (why wait?), this is fresh and delicately nutty in aroma, showing a bright bead of tiny bubbles with an explosively bright and creamy mousse, all beautifully poised and seamlessly satisfyingly refreshingly crisp and dry on the finish. Also available in cute little halves.
This is good. And So Is Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4R6LMYTgoc&feature=kp
Taittinger, 'Prelude' Grand Cru NV, France
Half chardonnay, half pinot noir from the fine 2006 vintage (although not specifically called vintage) this superb premium blend from Taittinger won the best value champagne vote at the most recent Wine gang Prestige Cuvée Champagne evening for its wonderfully scented richness, eight and textured fruit whose creaminess, full flavour and mouthwateringly dry limey acidity make it both terrific aperitif and food champagne.
Yes, its your Nightcall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV_3Dpw-BRY
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
A great classic. Pale bronze pink, lovely freshness and life, very bright, quite big bubbles, lovely intense and fruit nose, rich soft mousse of bubbles, initial strawberry sweetness balanced by a tangy redcurranty fresh acidity and elegant dry finish. Drink with food but a classic style, for drinking mainly as an aperitif.
Yes, She Wants:
£52.95 - £60, Lea & Sandeman, Berry Bros & Rudd, Philglas & Swiggot, Hedonism Wines, Roberson, Jeroboams, Bottle Apostle, Haynes Hanson & Clark, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Corks Out.
2004 Champagne Bollinger Grande Année
A consistent winner at the Wine Gang Prestige Cuvée Champagne event, this is classic Bollinger vintage champagne, a winey fizz with powerful aroma and terrific length of flavour that stays on the tongue after bursting onto the palate with an energy and richness that’s captivatingly nutty and delicious.
One for the Midnight City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2IPU05tZ2k
Krug Grande Cuvée
Pale lemon in colour, this classic blend with its tiny bead of bubbles and subtle fresh delicate perfume shows both fruity characteristics and delicate undertones of grilled nuts and toastiness followed by a velvety fine textured mousse yet with a youthfully zesty and satisfyingly refreshing finish that comes through with the intensity and length of flavour of a fine white Burgundy.
One to Get Lucky with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NV6Rdv1a3I