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Martin Moran's Party fizz for the Festive Season

Friday, 4 December 2009

Martin has selected 4 reasonably priced sparking wines/champagnes so not to break the bank this Christmas.

Everyone like a bit of champagne at Christmas time but this year we can't afford to spend too much, Martin gives us 3 alternatives to the real deal that taste just as good along with a real champagne that comes in under €26.

Martin Moran, Master of Wine, Evening Herald

Martin has over 24 years experience in the wine trade and writes about wines for the Evening Herald. He has travelled the world sampling wines.

He passed the notoriously difficult Master of Wine exam in 1994 and became the first MW to work in Ireland the following year. There are still only three in the Republic of Ireland.

He's poured wine in restaurants and hotels in London, sold wine in Dublin, London, Paris, New York and Sydney; Picked grapes in Alsace, Chateauneuf-du-pape, Buxy, Chablis, Bordeaux and Southern England; grown grapes in England and helped ferment wine in England, Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Bergerac, Adelaide and the Hunter valley;

Some History on Champagne:

The history of Champagne dates back to the 17th century when in the cold, northeastern region of France, bubbles accidentally appeared in bottles of fermenting wine. That's right. This celebrated beverage first began in Champagne, France as a science experiment. The trapped carbon dioxide bubbles were not originally intended to be part of the wine. And the rest, as they say, is history.

It is widely rumored that Champagne was invented by Dom Pérignon. It is also rumored that he was blind. Neither is the case. English scientist and physician Christopher Merrett created his own Champagne production method in 1662, nearly 30 years earlier.

The Dom was a Benedictine monk and cellar master at the abbey Saint-Pierre d'Hautvillers where he spent many years tending their vineyards. While Perignon may not have actually invented Champagne, he is credited with perfecting the art of champagne production during his years at the abbey.

The location of the region of Champagne has also played a role in the history of Champagne and in the development of the beverage that bears its name.The Champagne region includes the major cities of Epernay and Reims. It lies about 90 miles east of Paris. Reims, considered the capital of Champagne, is home to the Cathedral of Reims, site of numerous royal coronations and celebratory events over the centuries.

Commercial Champagne houses began operation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The oldest Champagne house in Reims is Ruinart, producing the sparkling beverage since 1729. Today the company is owned by the parent company Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Sparkling Wines

1: Saccheto Prosecco Frizzante

Vintage: Non-Vintage
Country & Region: Veneto, Italy
Grape Varieties: Prosecco
Tasting Note: Shows a distinctive pear character on nose and palate, which is very typical of Prosecco. If you drink Pinot Grigio then this is the affordable party fizz for you this Christmas.
Food Match: Drink on its own as an aperitif or with light party snacks.

Other Facts:
1) Second fermentation takes place in tank.
2) The cork is kept in place with string not the more usual metal cage so it avoids sparkling wine excise duty.
3) Frizzante means it will have slightly less pressure than Champagen

Price: €6.99.
Buy It: Dunnes Stores.

2: Yellowglen Pink

Vintage: Non-Vintage
Country & Region: South Eastern Australia
Grape Varieties: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir
Tasting Note: Shouts raspberry and strawberry on both nose and palate and has a smooth creamy texture.
Food Match: A great party wine or serve with strawberries and cream.

Other Facts:
1) The pink ribbon on the label indicates Pink's support of breast cancer awareness in Ireland with a percentage of the purchase price going to Irish Cancer Society and The Marie Keating Foundation.
2) Made by the transfer method which means second fermentation takes place in bottle before transfer to tank to remove sediment.
3) Yellowglen is the best selling sparkling wine brand in Australia.

Price: €15.99
Buy It: Super Valu, Tesco, Dunnes & Superquinn + many off-licences

3.Chateau Moncontour Sparkling Vouvray

Vintage: Non-Vintage
Country & Region: Loire, France
Grape Varieties: Chenin Blanc
Tasting Note: Light citrus and apple nose, but the palate is surprisingly rich with flavours of honey, toast and lemon.
Food Match: As an aperitif or with light starters like shellfish or sushi, but also with fruit desserts.

Other Facts:
Made by 'Methode Traditionelle', i.e. the second fermentation takes place in this bottle.

Price: €16.99
Buy It: Marks & Spencer

4.Tesco Premier Cru Champagne

Vintage: Non-Vintage
Country & Region: Champagne, France
Grape Varieties: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Tasting Note: A rich nose with biscuit and honey leads to a richly flavoured palate showing more biscuit with a creamy texture and a clean citrus finish. You might call it 'Baby Bollinger'.
Food Match: Perfect for celebrations and parties but will also go with a range of foods including shellfish or even fish or chicken dishes.

Other Facts:
1)The Chardonnay grapes used in this champagne come only from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards near Avize, and the Pinot Noir comes only from the Grand cru villages of Bouzy and Ambonnay.
2) Second fermentation of course takes place in the same bottle and it is aged for 36 months before removing the sediment (disgourging), which is unusually long for a supermarket Champagne.
3) Also available in half bottles at €15.99

Price: €25.99
Buy It: Tesco

Price & Stockists:

NAME: Saccheto Prosecco Frizzante
PRICE: €6.99.
BUY IT: Dunnes Stores

NAME: Yellowglen Pink
PRICE: €15.99
BUY IT: Super Valu, Tesco, Dunnes & Superquinn + many off-licences

NAME: Chateau Moncontour Sparkling Vouvray
PRICE: €16.99
BUY IT: Marks & Spencer

NAME: Tesco Premier Cru Champagne
PRICE: €25.99
BUY IT: Tesco