IT’S time to put a cork in French champagne and get your fizz fun closer to home – with English sparkling wine.
British bubbly has been steadily growing in popularity, with Sainsbury’s reporting sales up 51 per cent on three years ago.
Drinks expert Helena Nicklin gives her verdict on the best bottles in supermarkets, awarding each a mark out of five . . .
Tesco Finest English Sparkling Wine, £21 tesco.com
STRAIGHT-up, classic English fizz from the Hush Heath vineyard in Kent.
The soil there is perfect for creating our homegrown sparklers and this one is made in the champagne style, with a secondary fermentation and using a trio of champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
It is then aged on the leftover yeast in the bottle for more than a year to give it the toasty French fizz flavour – but with a British accent.
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Crisp and fresh, with just enough apple skin goodness, it’s a brilliant benchmark bottle.
It is at the higher price end of the price range for budget bottles but still a pretty good deal for what you get.
The Best English Sparkling, Vintage 2010, £ 25 morrisons.co.uk
AS far as supermarket English fizz goes, this really does tick nearly all the boxes.
Made using the complex champagne method. Tick! Vintage wine. Tick! UK-grown grapes. Tick! Extended ageing for toasty complexity. Tick!
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The only snag is price. It is the dearest of all the bottles.
This vintage wine was made in 2010 and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
So grab it now, charge your glass and enjoy.
Or stock up ready for special occasions this summer to treat your family and friends.
Delicious but you’ll pay for the pleasure.
Bramble Hill Sparkling Wine, £ 15 marchi & Spencer (in stores)
ANOTHER new Charmat-style fizz, this time from Marks & Spencer, which has just started stocking this budget offering.
From the Silverhand Estate in Kent, these brambly bubbles are more vibrantly fruity and frothy than the more traditional-style biscuit brioche – and the price point is much lower.
Think tart green apple and elder-flower thanks to a splash of the Bacchus grape.
There are also English-grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes in there.
A superbly refreshing tipple and pleasingly quaffable.
Winemaster’s Lot English Sparkling, £ 19,99
THESE splendid, sherberty sparkles from Hampshire have beautiful balance and depth.
With this offering coming in at less than £20, Aldi has really nailed the traditional- method English fizz at a most impressive price point.
Cool and classy with an English forest flavour, packing flourishes of citrus and pear, it makes for the perfectly delicious aperitif.
And it’s strong enough to sip with food like shellfish if you’re feeling in holiday mode.
Brilliant and bargainous British bubbles.
Prince Charmat Sparkling Wine, £ 15
CHARMAT is the name for the quicker, prosecco production method of fizzes, as opposed to the more com-plex traditional method used with Champagne.
With ripe pear and baked apple notes, soft bubbles and a touch of spice, this is a great intro to a new, more accessible style of English sparkling wine and shows off our own grapes.
It is a real English concept wine, from West Sussex, with a stylish label, distinctive bottle and clever brand name.
Enjoyable to drink, with honey and citrus notes, at £15 a bottle it’s hard to beat for the price.
Great to sip with friends or treat your-self for a celebration.
Ellercombe English Sparkling Brut, £ 22 sainsburys.co.uk
USES the champagne production method – a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes grown on the South Downs are fermented the French way by a top- end English team.
The result is a rich, creamy and yeasty drop with quirky notes of green pea and Parmesan.
Coming in at the higher end of the budget fizz price range, this is certainly a tipple that has its own distinctive flavour and style.
If you like your sparkling wine to be a bit out there, bold and funky, then this bottle is maybe worth a try.
Broadwood’s Folly English Sparkling, £ 14,99
HAILING from Surrey, this mouth-watering fizz is super-dry, tart and tangy – all quite like a Granny Smith apple, veramente, but just a bit more fun.
It’s a great glugger to refresh the palate when paired with creamy sauces or chunky cheese.
Or equally nice to just pop the cork on for that special occasion.
It’s a sparkler produced like champers, using the traditional method – but priced at under £15, it’s a total bargain.
The label appeal is spot-on, anche, and it looks far more expensive than it actually is, so will impress.
Balfour 1503 Foxwood Cuvee, £ 17,50
THIS is offered up by the renowned Balfour Winery, which is known as the winemaking royalty of Kent.
A deliciously decent drop, it is exclusive to the Co-op and is excellent value for your hard-earned in these straitened times of ours.
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On introducing this tipple to your lips, you will experience a creamier, softer version of spark-ling wine, as this one has been brought into being largely with the nutty Chardonnay grape.
A prestigious product that punches high for its modest price tag.