Summer looks set to return and Tesco is counting on us pouncing on the chance to eat, drink and be merry in the great outdoors with a range of summery wines, including these two sparklers.
Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé (£12)
I have a soft spot for Loire fizz, and for Gratien & Meyer in particular. They were the first traditional method sparkling producer I ever visited and where I got to see disgorgement happening live – the closest the wine world gets to a high octane action movie (which is to say, not at all close).
Touring the vastness of their cellars, dug into the soft tuffeau limestone of the Loire valley cliffs was arguably when my love of sparkling wines was kindled.
We all know that fizz spells celebration, ergo pink fizz says it, with knobs on. This bargainous crémant is made from fruit on the limestone-rich soils around Saumur (whose château was pictured in a book of hours belonging to the Duc de Berry, which then supposedly inspired the castle in the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Sleeping Beauty).
Pink Loire fizz tends to have bags of character, partly due to the inclusion of some Cabernet Franc in the blend which, as well as adding the all-important colour, also imparts definite red fruit aromas. This one is fashionably pale pink with strawberry and red apple on the nose. The mousse is lively and slightly creamy and there is plenty of red berry fruit, with a little edge of graphite which I enjoyed. Lots of drinking pleasure for the £12 price tag.
You could of course just enjoy a glass of this in the sun at any time, but sparkling wine, and especially pink sparkling wine, is perhaps surprisingly good at matching to a wide range of foods. We enjoyed this with Turkish andana kebabs, charred onion and pomegranate salad and fattoush – no burning hot chilli, but plenty of sweet/sour, meaty and fresh vegetable flavours going on.
Tesco Finest English Sparkling Brut (£21)
Made by Kent-based Hush Heath Estate, this is a blend of the classic three Champagne varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier). Its relatively deep colour and rather mellow style, highlighting green apple and almond flavours, with toasty, bready notes, made me think there might be quite a bit of reserve wine in the blend here. The trademark English high acidity is there, but it’s tempered by those broader, softer flavours – it could be an ideal introduction for someone who hasn’t yet found and English sparkling wine that suits them. At £21 it’s a relative bargain too.
This is probably one to enjoy as an aperitif or with salty/cheesy nibbles.