Champagnes and sparkling wines can be roughly divided into three types – delicate, round and structured. Waitrose Wine Buyer and Master of Wine Dee Blackstock recommends her favourite fizz in each category.
Deliciously delicate styles
Perfect for drinking as an apéritif, delicate fizz is elegant, joyous and refreshing, with light balance and fine bubbles. It is mostly Chardonnay, and the cava is predominantly Parellada, which is floral and has the purest citrus flavour of the three traditional cava grapes.
Waitrose in Partnership Cava, Spain, Sparkling Wine
A deliciously toasty but crisp and pure cava with hints of citrus fruit from the Penedès region of Spain. Exclusive to Waitrose, it’s the perfect sparkler to serve with lunch or at a Christmas drinks party.
Duval-Leroy, Fleur de Champagne, Premier Cru NV, Champagne, France
Specially selected for high-class restaurants – and for Waitrose. This is a classy premier-cru champagne, perfect for New Year celebrations and delicious as an apéritif.
Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2004 Grand Cru Champagne, France
A truly fantastic grand-cru champagne from a great vintage, made from Chardonnay grapes grown in top vineyards. Another Waitrose exclusive, this has beautifully balanced citrus and hazelnut flavours with a yeasty complexity and a long finish. Pure elegance.
Round, radiant sparklers
Well-balanced, soft and fruity, round sparklers are ripe, sometimes with a hint of toastiness. They’re fairly rich but with a delicious freshness that makes them very moreish.
SanLeo Prosecco Brut NV Italy, Sparkling Wine
A fruity sparkling wine made from 100 per cent Prosecco grapes. With delicious notes of apple, pear and citrus fruits, it’s excellent on its own but equally scrumptious with appetisers – try it with bread sticks wrapped in parma ham, or in a bellini, with fresh peach juice.
Waitrose Blanc de Noirs NV Champagne, France
Full bodied and rich – and consistently praised by the press. The family-owned champagne house Alexandre Bonnet grows its own grapes near Les Riceys in the Aube, the most southerly part of the Champagne region. The ripe-fruit flavours come from selecting only the first grape pressings, along with an ageing process that gives a delightfully biscuity character.
Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV Champagne, France
The company behind this elegant champagne is still family-owned and operated. It’s a rich, Pinot Noir-dominated champagne with a fine mousse and, thanks to extra bottle age, it has a lovely roundness.
Superbly structured fizz
There’s a degree of complexity in delicious structured tipples, with richness, toastiness and a bit of yeast coming through on the nose, and ripe-fruit flavours.
Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee Brut Cava NV Penedes, Spain
A smooth, honeyed cava with lovely fresh, ripe fruit. This blend focuses on Chardonnay grapes harvested in early August to retain their crisp, aromatic peach and pineapple flavours. The addition of Parellada and Macabeo grapes gives balance and finesse, while a splash of Pinot Noir adds structure and fruit complexity.
Waitrose Brut NV Champagne, France
Made by the renowned Piper & Charles Heidsieck team for Waitrose, this is a perfect Christmas-party tipple. It’s a Pinot-dominated blend with a dash of Chardonnay to add zing to an otherwise smooth, ripe, round and fruity champagne.