Wine Editor MARY DOWEY selects a sparkling wine that echoes CHAMPAGNE in everything but price …
Mount Bluff Brut NV
Doesn’t the last holiday weekend of the summer deserve a modest celebration? If, like me, you feel that few drinks add a splash of mood-enhancing glamour as effectively as a glass of bubbles, listen up. This stylish New Zealand fizz echoes champagne in everything but price.
It’s made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two main champagne grapes. It undergoes a second fermentation in bottle, exactly as champagne does. The flavours are similar too although softer – lemony, appley and biscuity with a tiny hint of honey melding into a style that’s easygoing but dry. The alcohol level is exactly that of France’s most famous fizz. The biggest difference is the price. Honestly, how many enjoyable champagnes have you come across in Ireland at €19? Any at all? Not me.
New Zealand is one of the New World countries best suited to producing this kind of classic bubbly. It has the right terroir to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes with a sunny but cool enough climate to ripen them while still retaining nice, fresh flavours. But, once subjected to Irish taxes, many of the best NZ sparklers end up costing €25 or more here. Although Mount Bluff may be less complex than some, it’s still a thoroughly likeable drink at a decent price.
Like all sparkling wines, this will taste much better with a little bit of food than all by itself. So rustle up a few canapés – they don’t have to be more complicated than a few fat prawns or chunks of waxy cheese. Mount Bluff will also slip down deliciously with something a little more substantial like an open crab sandwich or a plate of smoked salmon. Raise your glass and salute a summer that’s given us a reasonable quota of sunny weekends so far.
From Marks & Spencer, €19.
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