Having just finished researching a book on champagne and sparkling wine (out in October since you ask), I’ve been awash with fizz. There must have been 150 bottles cluttering my office at one point — I couldn’t even reach the telly to watch the cricket. I began to get the sweats whenever I heard a cork pop and for a nasty moment thought I’d never be able to stare a bottle of bubbles in the face again.
Happily, thanks in part to the scrumptious Le Colture Rosé Vino Spumante Brut NV (1) which arrived from Corney & Barrow just as I was about to panic, I’m now firmly on the mend. It’s irresistible.
A deliciously pale pink blend of 70 per cent Chardonnay and 30 per cent Merlot, it’s produced by the Ruggeri family, makers of fine wines in Valdobbiadene — Prosecco country — since 1500. It’s created in exactly the same manner as Prosecco (although not with the Prosecco/Glera grape) and is utterly delightful, being crisp, clean and refreshing, with a touch of wild strawberry fruit on the finish. £11.80 with the Brett-Smith Indulgence (whereby you get £6 off a case when buying two dozen bottles or more), £12.30 without, down from a Corney’s list price of £12.95.
The 2016 Marqués de la Musa Viura/Chardonnay (2) is simplicity itself. A blend of 90 per cent Viura and 10 per cent Chardonnay, it’s from Cariñena in Aragon, north eastern Spain. Here, high in the Pyrenees foothills, hot days are followed by cold nights, leading to ripe fruit backed by an exhilarating freshness. Light, fresh and citrusy with a long clean finish, it’s a perfect poolside accompaniment. £6.63 with the B-SI, £7.13 without, down from £7.50.
The 2015 Soave Terre di Brognoligo Classico Cecilia Beretta (3) is first rate. Fine Soave is hard to find and this — from the Cecilia Beretta estate, whose vineyards dot the hills around Verona and Treviso — is spot on. A blend of 85 per cent Garganega and 15 per cent Chardonnay, it is lemon--fresh with crisp apple notes, a touch of almonds and a long, fruity, creamy finish. £8.95 with the B-SI, £9.45 without, down from £9.95.
The 2014 Particular Cariñena (4) is from Bodegas San Valero, the same folk who produce the Marqués de la Musa above. ‘Particular’ means ‘unusual’ in Spanish and the wine is so called because both the name of its region and its grape variety are the same: Cariñena.
Grapes from 50-year-old vines are crushed and fermented in steel tanks, after which the wine goes through malolactic fermentation. Six months in oak follows. The resulting wine is big and bold, with concentrated dark fruit, hints of spice, liquorice and cedarwood. James Franklin, Corney’s head of merchant sales, reckons it’s one of the best value reds he’s seen in years. £8.29 with the B-SI, £8.79 without, down from £9.25.
We’ve offered previous vintages of the 2012 Corney & Barrow Rioja (5) before very successfully. ‘It’s always met by broad smiles at our tastings,’ says Franklin. Produced by family-owned Bodegas Zugober in the Alavesa sub-region of Rioja from Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo, it’s marvellously mellow with plenty of vanilla, damsons, plums and mulberries and just the tiniest whisper of spice. £8.95 with the B-SI, £9.45 without, down from £9.95.
Finally, 2015 La Tunella Pinot Nero (6) from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy’s north east. As we all know, Pinot Noir is a so-and-so to grow but it thrives here in the steep, sunshine-blessed hillside vineyards moderated by mountain breezes. I love the wine’s almost tannin-free softness and its smooth, succulent, sour and ripe cherry fruit. It can stand a bit of chilling too and is nigh on perfect for al fresco summer suppers. £10.85 with the B-SI, £11.35 without, down from £11.95.
The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.