More to sparkling wine than Prosecco...

A selection of sparkling wines.

A selection of sparkling wines. - Credit: Archant

Recent figures for the UK are showing that after years of Prosecco being the ‘everyday’ drink for many wine drinkers sales are slowing down and consumers are looking for alternative fizz to enjoy and for better quality sparkling wines and Champagne for celebrations.

Two glasses of Prosecco on the table

Two glasses of Prosecco on the table - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The desire for a change accompanies increased costs based on sterling’s weakness compared to the euro. However, the good news is that there is a wide range to choose from and offer great value too.

Though the days of very cheap Cava are long gone, the methode traditionelle sparkler from north-east Spain is a delicious aperitif and a great alternative to Prosecco.

Most producers including Vilarnau, Freixenet, Segura Viudas and Mas Macia use Spanish grapes – Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada to produce a refreshing mouthfilling stylish fizz.

Hot on the heels of Cava and Prosecco sales of Cremant styles is growing and production is now permitted in eight French regions including Burgundy, the Loire and Limoux.

In the past the term cremant has often denoted a poor quality sparkling wine made in regions outside Champagne using the traditional method of secondary fermentation in bottle to produce the fine lingering sparkle and different grape varieties.

Now with the increased call for good value fizz that was driven by Prosecco is driving a demand for better quality together with value for money.

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Cremant de Loire made from Chenin Blanc and Cremant de Limoux made from the Mauzac grape often blended with a little Chardonnay, though not often seen on UK wine shop shelves, are delicious fun wines that are great as an aperitif.

Look out for the name Franciacorta too – a region in north west Italy whose traditional methode traditionelle wines are now gaining a stronger worldwide reputation.

More proof that Italian sparkling wine is not all about Prosecco, as leading Franciacorta producer Ferghettina has proved time and time again with its wines that have great style, elegance and finesse.

For celebrations Champagne is still the drink of choice with its elegant fresh citrus fruit and fine bubbles though English wines are proving to be a serious challenger with sales showing double figure increases.

Although the well known brands of Nyetimber, Chapel Down, Camel Valley and Riverview, to name a few continue to do well more names are now in the frame including medal winners, Langham Estate in Dorset, Court Garden, Henners, Rathfinney, Bolney Estate et al.

The climate and terroir across the South Downs and into the south west is proving ideal for growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes with the high level of acidity and minerality of fruit needed for quality sparkling wines.

Although perhaps the appeal for Prosecco is waning it is thanks to that particular tipple that people realised there are lots of other fun sparkling wine styles out there which don’t have to be as pricey as Champagne and still be well made.