Mary Dowey on Festive Fizz

A fine BUBBLY BARGAIN to see you through to new year …

Croser NV, Adelaide Hills, Petaluma NV 

Prosecco fell off the fashion wagon quite some time ago – too much of it is way too tacky – but it has helped millions of people to develop a taste for fizz without the need for a lavish champagne budget. If you’re one of them, pay attention. Brian Croser, one of the best-known figures in Australian wine, has been associated with terrific sparkling wines for decades. This one, the least expensive yet still classy, is a particularly good buy at the moment with a few euro knocked off the standard price.

It’s made by Petaluma, the winery Croser set up, from the main champagne grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in exactly the same way as champagne with a second fermentation in bottle. There are two important differences. The first is the price, which might only just about buy you the most basic champagne, and which you’d need to more than double to secure the smart stuff. The second is the easy-drinking style. The fully ripe grapes that Australian sunshine guarantees make a soft, fruity, rounded fizz with extremely wide appeal. It’s zesty and lively without being overly acidic – an important bonus for the (many) people who baulk at the highish acid in many champagnes. And the bubbles are fine – a hallmark of quality.

Also in O’Briens is this wine’s older brother, Croser Vintage 2013 (€34.95), the current release of what has for years been my favourite New World sparkler. If you can spare the extra outlay, you’ll be in for a treat. Built for a much longer life, it’s richer, creamier and firmer than the non-vintage, with a lingering, savoury finish. Whereas the NV will disappear all too quickly by itself, the vintage tastes more glorious with nibbles or – better still – smoked salmon or a plate of cheese. Happy Christmas and a sparkling new year!

Alcohol: 13%

From O’Briens outlets nationwide, down from €24.95 to €21.95 until the beginning of January. Croser vintage 2013, €34.95.


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