Fashions come and go but sparkling wine is perennially popular. Prosecco currently has bubble-fanciers in its thrall. Australian sparkling has never been better and Tasmania is leading at the top end. Champagne is huge in Australia: we are the sixth-largest market for Champagne outside France. Discounted non-vintage has the lion's share. But there are many other less-famous fizzes out there. Languedoc's Blanquette de Limoux lays claim to being the world's first bottle-fermented sparkling wine. Yes, before Champagne. And with global warming, England is now able to produce excellent bubbly in the warmer southern counties like Hampshire. It shares Champagne's secret weapon: chalky soil.
L'Eglise St Martin Blanquette de Limoux Brut NV $15
From Domaines Paul Mas comes this bargain fizz, made from blanquette (mauzac) and chardonnay. With a light yellow hue, it smells of iced pastries, pear and confectionery, with light body and delicate flavour. Crisp acidity makes for a refreshing finish. Not complex, but very good. Cork; 12 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? No, drink it young.
Stockists Dan Murphy's stores.
Louis Pommery England Brut NV, Hampshire $99
Produced by Vranken-Pommery, which makes Pommery Champagne, using the classic grapes chardonnay and pinot noir and nearly four years on lees. Light colour, vigorous mousse, and a very fresh, bright, youthful style with bracing acidity. Meringue, vanilla and citrus nuances. A fine aperitif style. Cork; 12 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Best within three or four years.
Stockists include Qantas Wine, qantasepiqure.com.au
Gratien & Meyer Cremant de Loire Brut NV $26
The fragrant, fruity bouquet is strawberry-like, revealing its red-grape content. The palate is crisp and lean, dry and refreshingly tangy. It's delicate and finely textured and would be excellent with fish. Indeed, it needs food. Made from chenin blanc, chardonnay and cabernet franc. They also make a very good rosé. Cork; 12 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Best while young and fresh.
Stockists include Sands Hotel, Maroubra (NSW); The Vin Wine & Spirits, Seddon (Vic).