Finest 1531 Blanquette de Limoux Languedoc, France NV (£9.50, Tesco) There is something uniquely uplifting and refreshing about sparkling wine: useful attributes to have in any summer, but particularly this one. The good news is that fizz has never been so accessible, affordable and cosmopolitan. It gets everywhere. It’s as if the concept of sparkling wine has adopted the jet-setting lifestyle long associated with drinkers of its most famous style, champagne. The latter is still off-limits if you don’t want to spend more than £20, however – as indeed is the English sparkling wine revolution. You can find examples of both below that price, but most of them won’t make you very happy. Not in the way that Tesco’s cheerfully tangy apple pie-flavoured creation does at half the price. From vineyards high up in the hills of Limoux – a southern French region with a longer pedigree in sparkling wine than Champagne – it’s sparkling value.
Pete’s Pure Moscato Murray Darling, South East Australia NV (from £7.99, mrandmrsfinewine.co.uk; henningswine.co.uk) If you are looking for a pure, unadulterated hit of simple pleasure – a wine that winemaker friends of mine insist on calling ‘happy juice’ as if it were some advertising standards-bothering brand of alcopop – then it’s hard to look past the simple joys of moscato. Sweet, gently foamy, and full of floral-grapey and ripe white-peachy flavours, moscato is also light in alcohol (generally around 5.5% abv) and is brilliant at matching summer fruit-based desserts (in my opinion it’s the best accompaniment for macerated strawberries and cream) or acting as a dessert itself (both by the glass or frozen into a simple granita or sorbet). The best have always come from the style’s original home in Piedmont, northwest Italy, and producers such as GD Varja and Elio Perrone. But Australia does a neat line in the style, too, with Pete’s Pure offering up the sweet-foamy juiciness with an infectious, sunny smile.
Juve y Camps Reserva Familia Cava, Spain NV (£17.99, or £12.99 as part of a mixed six, majestic.co.uk) Australia is also getting better at more serious, champagne-alike (ie, dry and more expensive) sparkling wines. Tasmania is the cool-climate hot spot. A by Arras Premium Cuvée NV (£19.95, thevinorium.co.uk) from Tasmania’s consistently excellent House of Arras is a beauty: made from the traditional champagne trio of grape varieties (pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay) it’s rich, refined and complex. Also working best in the £10-£20 slot is Catalonia’s cava: Juve y Camps’ evergreen Reserva Familia is dry and rich with orchard fruit and a distinctive streak of Mediterranean herbiness. Above £20, you’re becoming seriously hedonistic with the satiny cherries of Bibo Runge Provakateur Sparkling Rosé Sekt NV from Germany’s Rheingau (£25.99, butlers-winecellar.co.uk) and Jacques Picard Brut Réserve Champagne NV (from £37, bottleapostle.com; pinotandchardo.co.uk), a multilayered, almost savoury example of champagne from a small grower-producer in the Montagne de Reims.