Champagne is such a successful global brand that it has inspired winemakers in many countries to try to emulate it. But not all fine fizz is champagne, and the rise and rise of Italy's prosecco and its Australia's imitations testify to that. Prosecco is mostly innocuous and bland, but some have more flavour intensity than others. The new Arras non-vintage blanc de blancs is a tilt at champagne style, but sparkling red is a style that Australia has pretty much to itself, notwithstanding the better lambruscos. Shiraz is the preferred grape but merlot, tempranillo, cabernet and others are also popular.
Torzi Matthews Vigna Cantina Prosecco 2020, Barossa, $25
The colour is pale and it has a vigorous froth of bubbles, smelling fresh and pear-like, grapy and scrupulously clean. Mercifully, it's not as sweet as many proseccos but is balanced and refreshing, and eminently quaffable. 12 per cent alcohol; cork.
Ageing: Drink now to three years.
Stockists: Meatsmith Stores, St Kilda, Fitzroy & Brighton (Vic); Summer Hill Wine Shop (NSW); torzimatthews.com.au
Zema Estate Sparkling Merlot 2018, Coonawarra, $39.95
With a deep red colour with purple tints, this has a briary, herbal, attractively varietal bouquet and is soft, medium-bodied and savoury in the mouth, the sweetness controlled and the finish appropriately dry. Barbecued ribs with plum sauce would work well. 14 per cent alcohol; cork.
Ageing: Drink now to eight years.
Stockists include: Audacious Monk Cellars, Preston (Vic); Summer Hill Wine Shop (NSW)
House of Arras Blanc de Blancs NV, Tasmania, $35
This has a light straw-yellow colour and a bouquet of iced pastries, the palate refined and refreshing, delicate and precise with good intensity and a degree of complexity. A finer style, obviously made from chardonnay, it would make an excellent aperitif. Cork; 12.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing: Ready now. Will drink well for at least five years.
Stockists: Vintage Cellars and selected on-premise venues.