The Handbook
The Handbook

It’s Valentine’s and we’re literally locked up with our partners. Or we’re sat all alone feeling sorry for ourselves. Either way, could there possibly be a better excuse for Champagnes and fizz?

And it’s not all that bad. When we’re talking about sparkling wine the glass is always half full, and while there’s not an awful lot to celebrate this year just yet (unless you’re vaccinated, in which case ‘hurrah’!) we can all find some positives to drink to (errr, aliens haven’t attacked?). Plus, fizzy wine can equally be quaffed to commiserate, in which case: charge your glasses!

Here are some of our favourites…

Gusbourne

Perfect for guzzling this Valentine’s Day, Gusbourne’s sparkling English wine is delectable.

The Blanc de Blancs is classic, with plenty of Chardonnay, bringing out the natural minerality. The Kent winery produces ‘English fizz’ with both finesse and elegance and can be drunk now or aged.

£59 a bottle
Website:
www.gusbourne.com

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee MV, Cuvee Chérie and 1086 Rosé 2010

English sparkling wine has come ridiculously far in the last decade. And out in front of the pack in terms of consistent mass production combined with great wine making are Nyetimber. Making it the perfect Valentine’s wine!

Covering price points for most wallets, the Classic Cuvee is ideal for serving in your bubble now, or serve a bottle of Cuvee Chérie at your first family get together after lockdown lifts, and for a real ‘back to normal’ celebration (whenever that is) the 2010 vintage 1086 Rosé has been tried and tested by yours truly, and it was a perfect treat. Silky, crystalline and at £175 a bottle a very special wine for a special moment.

Classic Cuvee MV – £27 per bottle
Cuvee Chérie – £37.99 per bottle
1086 Rosé 2010 – £175 per bottle
Find: www.waitrose.com

Pol Roger

Churchill won the war powered mainly by Cuban cigars and Pol Roger. Judging by how the pandemic response has gone we’re guessing that Boris has been smoking something different and Pol Roger sadly isn’t on the menu in the Downing Street flat.

This is a Champagne of heroes, so why not get some on ice to drink to the many heroes we’ve encountered over the last few months.

Relatively affordable and with a perfect-amount-of-yeast-y taste, it’s elegant and the ideal serve for  almost any occasion.

£34 per bottle
Find: www.waitrose.com

Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé

Summer might seem like a mirage, with its long evenings, EOTHOing and the carefree Covid spreading that got us right back in this situation.

But a crisp rosé Champagne is as Christmassy as a certain bearded gentleman with a penchant for reindeer. And a Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé is an ideal Valentine’s serve.

In an entirely unintended nod to current events, the  Perrier-Jouët Champagne house has long been associated with the arts since their collaboration with Émile Gallé in 1902. The artist’s iconic flowers make an appearance on the label of the Blason, which, in turn, gets its name from the ‘Blason de France’ range, created by the House in 1956 and blending 50 different vins clairs from across the Champagne house’s vineyards.

Given how much the arts have been hit by coronavirus maybe you could order a bottle for an artist, actor, musician or comedian in your life?

£60.95 per bottle
FIND: www.thewhiskyexchange.com

Squerryes

In 2004 a French Champagne house approached Sussex farmer Henry Warde and offered to buy his North Downs chalky farmland for ‘boucoup le cash’, having identified it as the perfect spot for replicating Champagne’s unique characteristics.

In possibly the savviest decision of his life, Warde decided instead to plant vines and, sixteen years later, Squerryes is one of the most exciting English sparkling wines.

The Vintage Brut 2014 is a wonderful example of English Sparkling wine, grown in the North Downs and the nose gives off hints of green apple, summer meadows and freshly baked bread. 

£32 per bottle
Website: www.squerryes.co.uk

Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut NV

A relatively recent marque, in Champagne-ing terms (for context, the oldest Champagne House still operating was founded in 1584), Champagne Barons de Rothschild joined forces in a Power-Rangers style coming together of three Rothschilds ‘barons’ to create a Champagne that feels like it’s got far more heritage behind it than its fifteen years.

The non-vintage Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut offers notes of pear, red apple, nectarine, lemon peel, smoke almond, orchard blossom, buttery pastry and, our old friend. freshly baked bread.

£56 per bottle
Website: www.harveynichols.com

Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (From Aldi!)

Maybe you’re looking at the news and thinking this isn’t exactly the moment to crack open the Pol Roger. But you still want to celebrate. Bring on the Aldi.

Aldi Champagne is both very drinkable (I’ve known real wine snobs raise their eyebrows above the actual physical limits of their foreheads when I’ve told them they’re drinking Aldi Champers. And the best bit is the price.

Just £12 a bottle (the price has quietly and steadily crept up from £10, but hey ho), Champagne Monsigny Brut is not only cheap but highly drinkable. Created by the wonderfully Dickensian Philizot & Fils it’s really tasty and really cheap.

£12 per bottle
Website: www.aldi.co.uk

Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve

They serve Hattingley’s sparkling wine in BA’s first class. Given this is about as close as you’re going to get to a flight in the near-to-medium term, get a case of Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve in and let’s just pretend.

A brilliant, appley, nougaty number and the wine is really good, and what’s more it doesn’t require a 10 day isolation after drinking.

£30 per bottle
Website: www.hattingleyvalley.com

If you enjoyed these, then you’ll probably want to check out our rosé guide too…

 

Our team have tasted every single wine listed in this article, as you can imagine it was an arduous task but it also ensures that we are only recommending wines that we have enjoyed and feel we can recommend to our readers. We aim to cover a range of price-points, we’re not here just for snobs (though snobs are always welcome too!).

Of course there are thousands of wines out there that we’ve not tasted, if you’re a grower or work in the industry please feel free to get in touch on [email protected].


Want to receive more great articles like this every day: sign up here