An Bord Sip

YOU’D like to think everyone in the country has opinions on NAMA and An Bord Snip. I certainly do and I’d like to think other folks might become sufficiently exercised by them to actively respond to them.

But this post is about An Bord Sip, a response to the downturn that is in your control right now. The idea is simple (drink better for less) and, to be honest, far from new: even during the boom bubble, I was suggesting in my column that we wine fans were often paying far too much.

Naturally I’m going to begin the deliberations of An Bord Sip with sparkling wine. Or property bubbles if you insist on yet another wretched pun.

Champagne may have benefited from product placement in Casablanca.

Champagne may have benefited from product placement in Casablanca.

We’re all paying far too much for bubbly. One component of the inflated price is the outlandish excise duty levied on fizz here in Ireland. But the main reason we pay too much is the magnetic allure of Champagne, which is still widely regarded as the sole source of worthwhile bubbly. This didn’t happen by accident. A century of advertising, product placement and back-room machinations at international trade agreements has secured an enviable position in the public imagination for the fizz made in northern France.

I look at the details of that elsewhere but if I needed any further ammunition to burst that bubble it came in the shape of some smashing sparkling wines from Australia featured at this week’s Fizz & Stickies Show run by the Australian Wine Bureau. I’ll return to the rather specialised topic of the stickies (dessert wines, that is) at a later date but here are my highlights from the sparkling end of the show, along with a handful of other Aussie bubblies not represented by the AWB.

All of them are made in the same way as Champagnes. And all but one showcase the two classic grapes – chardonnay and pinot noir – that blossom so well under the secondary in-bottle fermentation synonymous with that method. And that exception the Wyndham 555, belongs to a tradition of sparkling red wines which is, perhaps surprisingly, at least as old as that of Champagne.  Enjoy!

Jacob's Creek

Jacob's Creek

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV (€15.25 almost everywhere). An excellent example of generous  fizz at a good tenner less than its equivalent from Champagne.

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé NV (€15.25). Also a chardonnay pinot blend, but with prolonged skin contact imbuing it with a touch of the oomph of the red grapes. The extra touch of sweetness in it is beautifully counterbalanced against the heady darker edge of the pinot noir.
Wolf Blass Red Label Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV (€17.49). Handsome and light but the nose also delivers a delicious touch of those characteristic  slightly toasty oaty notes beloved of fans.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2007 (€19.99) I certainly wouldn’t chuck out the red label stablemat of this vintage sparkler, but this one the delicacy
Grant Burge Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV (€23.99).   Seasoned Champagne lovers will ‘get’ this one made by high-end Barossa house Grant Burge  — a fantastic citrusy spicy nose followed by a voluptuously rich creamy breathy bready texture

Green Point Sparkling Yarra Valley Victoria NV (€24.95).  Unlike the other fizz in the over-20 bracket (where generosity is at a premium) in this case you’re paying for the elegance — light bright and a fabulous tight finish which beckons some morsels of seafood.


Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz (€15). Holy cow! Shiny black plummy liquorice-inflected shiraz – with bubbles. It’s a relatively light-bodied shiraz but intriguing to the palate to sip an determinedly red wine with bubbles out of the fridge. An exciting style well worth a punt, and it might just nudge you to consider trying out your regular red wine slightly chilled.


One Response

  1. […] but also from Spain, Italy, Chile, Hungary and elsewhere. I had a glimpse of this recently at the Fizz & Stickies Show. And just a fortnight ago I tasted a very attractive bubbly made in the same way as Champagne, and […]

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