Festive fizz and bubbles 2022

Drinks blogger James Robertson pops the cork on his festive fizz recommendations.

HOW time flies; here we all are thinking about Christmas and the New Year, which is on the immediate horizon. I do not think that I am alone in thinking where on Earth did 2022 go?

It certainly seems to have flown by; mind you, with all that has been going on around us, it is probably no bad thing really. What better way to lift one’s spirits than to open a bottle of sparkling wine?

Over the past few weeks it has been a little tough as I have had to taste my way through a range of bottles of fizz to find some recommendations – but someone has to do it! Here are the ones that stood out:

Champagne Frerejean Frères Brut Premier Cru – this is a wonderful Champagne made by three brothers from the Taittinger family, so no surprise that with their background this wine has balance and elegance. Made from equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, there are subtle notes of honey, fresh apples, and orange peel, with a hint of toasted brioche. £39 direct from www.frerejeanfreres.co.uk

Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs – This wine made from Chardonnay taken from the 200 hectares controlled by Palmer & Co has amazing balance and finesse; there is a combination of apricot, pear, and hazelnut notes on the nose and on the taste with a long dry finish. £53.99 from www.waitrosecellar.com

Paul Clouet Selection Grande Reserve – One does not have to look too far in Champagne to find wines that are not the so called “Big Boys” and this is a perfect example. A mix of 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier, this wine is rounded with lovely fruit and a long pleasing finish. £37 from www.sipchampagnes.com

Beaugrand Brut Blanc de Blancs – A bottle of fabulous bubbles, which is 100% Chardonnay from the village of Montgueux. Not surprisingly this has incredible elegance with light dried fruit notes and a delightful elegance. This is one that could kick start the celebrations with style. £46 from www.sipchampagnes.com

Henriot Brut Souverain – Still in Champagne, this is a lovely blend of Chardonnay with 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier. There are bundles of citrus, floral, and nutty notes on the nose and on the taste, with a hint of newly baked bread. £28.99 from www.de-burgh.com

Simpsons Flint Fields Blanc de Noirs 2018 – I am a huge fan of sparkling wines from the south of England and this is a stand out from the North Downs of Kent. Made totally from Pinot Noir, there is a finesse about this wine with loads of red fruit, a hint of flint and toast, with an amazing finish. £45 from www.simpsonswine.com

Balfour Blanc de Blancs 2018 – The Balfour winery was started 20 years ago and this is only the third vintage wine to be released in that time. Another sparkler from Kent, this is 100% Chardonnay. There is a lovely bouquet of orange and lime peel with a touch of honey on the nose with hints of green apples and pear drops on the finish. £45 from www.balfourwinery.com

Black Chalk Classic 2018 – A few months ago, I wrote about their rosé; this time, it’s a wine combining Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. Based in the beautiful Test Valley, this is complex and balanced with plenty of pear fruit notes and a hint of honey. Before I forget, the winery is also doing vineyard and tasting tours over the festive period. £35 from www.blackchalkwine.co.uk

Graham Beck Brut Rosé – This is a great value sparkling wine from South Africa, mainly made from Pinot Noir with 34% Chardonnay in the mix. It has a lovely salmon pink colour with hints of wild berries and red cherry fruit notes with a lovely balanced finish. £16.99 from www.majestic.co.uk

Read more of James’ reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.