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All that Sparkles is not Champagne

Thursday 19.4.18

Presented by Matthew Whitaker

The Oxford Wine Company, 6 Turl Street, Oxford, OX1 3DQ

This was a tasting to demonstrate a selection of different sparkling wines from around the world, showing there is more to fizz than Champagne. The tasting was hosted by Matthew Whitaker who guided guests through sparkling wine made using different grape varieties and different production methods.

To start was a Magnum of Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava, Pouring anything out of a magnum always has a showstopping quality to it. The wine quality didn't disappoint either! This particular Cava has almost twice the minimum age requirement before its release and was great way to start the tasting.

Limoux was arguably the first ever place to make wine using the traditional method, the method that some claim to have been invented by the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon. The, Blanquette de Limoux from Rives-Blanques didn't disappoint. This wine must be made with a minimum of 90% Mauzac and aged for 12months. It had the perfect balance of fruit and minerality. A real crowd pleaser

We moved on to a South African fizz - the Boschendal Brut Rosé, a fantastic traditional method sparkling or 'Method Cap Classic' as its known in South Africa. This uses 30% Pinotage, 20% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. It was a good demonstration of how South Africa's key grape variety can be made into an elegant yet complex sparking wine at a very affordable price.

The Furleigh Estate Classic was shown next, a brilliant English sparkling wine from Dorset. This took the guests by surprise, using the classic champagne grapes this wine was delicate and packed with ripe fruit flavours with a subtle biscuitness on the palate.

Franciacorta was the next wine from a lesser known area of Italy. It comes from Lombardy - a region producing incredible traditional method sparkling wines. This wine had the longest amount of aging and it really showed. Pistachio and almond dominated the nose with a rich but well-balanced palate. This was a firm favourite among the guests.

Finally, a wine called Birbet was shown. This is a very lightly sparkling red wine made from the Brachetto grape. Made using the Asti method this wine has a light spritz with strawberry and cream dominating the nose and a soft fruity palate. This was the perfect summer time drinking wine. A lot of the guest agreed that at only 5% ABV they could quite easily polish off a bottle at a hot summers picnic.

This was a brilliant tasting that really opened peoples eyes to more unusual, well-made sparkling wines.