John Belsham finds top-class sparkling wines to suit every budget.
At the beginning of the millennium, sparkling wine represented just 4% of total wine consumption. Today, one in every ten glasses of wine consumed in the world is sparkling.
This trend shows no signs of slowing and has encouraged winemakers to focus on the category, which is good news for consumers who are increasingly spoilt for choice. Drinking better does not necessarily mean spending more; often, it is about making better choices.
The sparkling wines currently on offer in New Zealand exemplify just that, as we discovered some excellent offerings to suit every budget, from delicious, entirely on point proseccos to méthode traditionelle cuvées that raise the bar every year. We see wineries continuing to invest in their expertise while building their reserve base wine programmes, giving depth, complexity and consistency to their house styles that are worth every cent and stand very tall amongst the poppies.
TASTING PANEL For this New Zealand sweet wine tasting, John Belsham, an international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines in Marlborough, was joined by Steve Voysey, the proud owner of Spade Oak Wines in Gisborne and a consultant winemaker with over 35 years of experience. The third panellist was Jane De Witt, the very experienced and multi-awarded winemaker for Lion.
Building a wine business for the love of the land is not undertaken for immediate rewards; it requires skill, patience and commitment before recompense, but then the Skeggs family has never shied from long term investments. They purchased their first vineyard in Bannockburn in Central Otago in 1996 and founded Akarua, however it wasn’t until 2009 that they initiated the sparkling wine programme. Bringing it to life required a further step up in commitment, so for technical expertise they engaged the late Dr Tony Jordan, one of the world’s most renowned sparkling wine experts. “It was a real leap of faith and one that could not have been achieved without the expertise of our partner, Dr Tony Jordan, who founded and guided the programme until his untimely recent passing, ” says Kathryn Petit, General Manager of Akarua.
Expanding their vineyard holdings has enabled the winery to meet the demands of growth while building the sparkling base wine programme and remaining 100% estate grown. The vineyards have been carefully developed and sensitively farmed with 82 distinct parcels identified. This dedication is certainly paying off with Akarua claiming both the first and the second position in this tasting. Crisp and fresh with a delicate bubble this wine is precise with a focussed and elegant structure. The complex flavours of ripe citrus, stone fruits, honey and toast are creamy yet beautifully balanced.
A light copper-coloured wine with initial restraint that opens up to a …2
In collaboration with Maison Mumm, Pernod Ricard has developed this New Zealand …3
A wine with a richness that defies the price tag. The ripe …4
A refreshingly crisp style with a white floral bouquet sustained by a …5