Wine: Six of the best bottles of bubbly for Valentine’s
Velvet’s wine columnist Giles Luckett has been in the business for more than 30 years and worked everywhere from Harrods to Laithwaites. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, he’s raising a glass to romance. . .
Love is in the air, well the love of wine is in the air at least, and as usual I’ll be opening a bottle of Champagne (or two) come the 14th. While some other wines have romantic overtones – Beaujolais’s Saint Amour, for example – when it comes to wine and romance, it has to be fizz. So, here are my recommendations as to how you can add some sparkle to your special evening.
My first recommendation is South African, the Graham Beck Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 (Majestic £18.99). All Graham Beck’s sparkling wines are world-class, but this is the best of an impressive bunch. Blossom-pink, the bouquet is dominated by fresh red berries with a touch of lime and cherry. Full-flavoured, it offers lovely strawberry and raspberry fruit with notes of cherry sherbet and warm spices to the finish.
Staying with rosé, my next choice is the epitome of Champagne verve and elegance. The Billecart Salmon Rosé (Loki Wine £62.99) is a joyous wine, one that’s so well-balanced, it feels like it’s been precision engineered. From its amber-pink body glisten red-gold bubbles that elevate notes of loganberries, blossoms and alpine strawberries. The palate is broad, rounded and mellow, offering a range of soft red berries interspersed with hints of blackcurrant, cream and tangy rhubarb. Wonderful on its own, it’s also the perfect partner for smoked fish or pork.
My first white is another New World wine, this time from Tasmania. Tasmania has the perfect conditions for producing sparkling wines and ones like the Jansz Premium Cuvee (Waitrose £18.49) show its immense class. Mid-gold, the nose is all honeysuckle, citrus and roasted nuts, while the palate offers a blend of white berries, peaches, guava and nut paste, undercut with raspberry acidity. While this is lovely on its own, it’s also a great accompaniment to white fish and roasted poultry.
Some wine-lovers I speak to say that, while they like Champagne, they find it a bit dry. As more and more people cut their sparkling-wine teeth on wines such as Prosecco, this is easy to understand. There is, however, an increasing number of Champagnes being produced with a greater level of sweetness. Take Taittinger’s Nocturne (Tesco £43). While a typical bottle of Champagne will have between 0-12g of residual sugar, the Nocturne has around 19g. This imparts richness and gives a more luxurious mouthfeel, highlighting Taittinger’s signature notes of peaches, comice pears, milk bread and vanilla spice, without losing any of its elegance or zest.
If you’re planning some fine dining and need a wine to match it, then the Gosset Grande Reserve (Waitrose £54.99) is the Champagne for you. Gosset’s wines are made without compromise and have an intensity that’s rarely found in Champagne. The tiny, uniform bubbles release fresh, piercing notes of grapefruit and apples alongside richer notes of almonds, honey and fresh bread. On the palate, it opens with a surge of freshness with juicy green grapes, lemon and redcurrants before baked apples, mirabelles and lemon curd come through. I’ve had this with everything from seafood to spring lamb, and it’s always been the perfect foil.
If you’re hoping this Valentine’s Day will have a lifelong significance, with a question popped and a romantic bubble unburst, there’s only one wine for you: Dom Perignon. I’ve toasted many of the most significant events of my life with this wine and it always rises to the occasion. The 2013 Dom Perignon (Champagne Direct £210) is the best young Dom Perignon I’ve ever had. White-gold, the tiny bubbles convey notes of fresh pears, white apricots, white flowers and brioche. On the palate, it’s silky soft and beguilingly complex, with a subtle interplay of grapes, peaches, melon and kiwi set off by creamy yeast and gentle spices. Let this stunner breathe for an hour to get the best from it.
Right, well that’s enough romance for one day. Next time out I’ll look at some new-season wines that will put a spring in your step.
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