Cheers to love!

By Luisa Welch, AWE

It’s February, love is in the air – you need a wine to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Though any night you open a great bottle is a celebration, an excuse for splashing out on something special, and Valentine’s Day just happens to be an excellent excuse to indulge.

There is nothing quite as celebratory as a bottle of sparkling wine so here is our selection of bubbles, and not just champagne, that will please on their own, with a meal or as a grape gift.

If champagne is your sparkling wine of choice, here is a name you might not have come across before, but its credentials are impeccable.  It’s Lallier Grand Cru Grande Reserve Brut, a champagne of exhilarating freshness, complexity, and finesse.  With Pinot Noir as the dominant grape blended with Chardonnay and matured in bottle on its lees for 24-36 months, this champagne is a most unexpected and pleasant surprise.  Pale lemon in colour with persistent bubbles, and a typical biscuity nose, the palate reveals a big, complex wine, with a different nuance at every sip and a long, dry finish typical of a Brut style.

The house of Lallier specialises in champagnes by sourcing only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay exclusively from vineyards officially classified as Grand Cru and Premier Cru, and the grapes express the purity of their territory.

Established for over a century, the Lallier family is firmly rooted in the village of Aÿ, one of the 17 villages classified as ‘Grand Cru’ in Champagne, a clear indication of quality.  What’s more, this Champagne is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 

As it’s available in half bottles from WineTrust, it’s the perfect aperitif to start an evening ‘a deux’, leaving plenty of room for more tipples.

Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire Brut is delicious sparkling wine, made just like champagne, but using the grapes grown in the Saumur area in the Loire, like the Chenin Blanc.  As such, it’s a true expression of the region, fresh and elegant, with a lovely zest, notes of white flowers and citrus fruit.

Not many people know that Langlois-Chateau is owned by Bollinger Champagne. Whilst the winery has always had a fine reputation, in the last 40 years significant investment by Bollinger in both the vineyards and cellars has elevated the quality substantially. Today, they are the go-to Crémant from the Loire. This wine makes you want to celebrate even when there is nothing special to celebrate! 

Casanova has gone down in history as one of the most famous lovers. He hailed from Veneto in Italy. Perhaps not for nothing Prosecco, now one of the most famous wines in the world also hailing from Veneto, is a favourite for celebrations like Valentine’s Day. With the wide choice of Prosecco out there, you will want to be discerning as to what you buy.

Nosuga (Bosuga) Extra Dry is highly affordable for the quality. This is the ‘in’ Prosecco and not just in the chic bars of Venice, a deliciously soft and creamy wine, bursting with ripe fruit. You can find it right here on the website.  From Glera grapes grown in the best vineyards around the heart of Prosecco in Conegliano, this is perfect as an aperitif, for a celebration, and over a meal.

If you are looking for something a little different, once again Italy comes up trumps. Here is a red sparkling wine, Lambrusco Rosso Reggiano Concerto Medici Ermete.  Lambrusco? I hear you say.  Once very popular, but unfairly linked to unfashionable wines in more recent times, this traditional red from central Italy’s Emilia-Romagna is staging a comeback. If it’s good enough for Manhattan’s River Café and the 3-Michelin star Osteria Francescana in Bologna, it’s good enough for us.  Not for nothing it was awarded Gold and Silver medals at the Decanter, International Wine and Spirit Challenge (IWSC) and Falstaff Sparkling Special in the last two years. So, think again.  This is real Lambrusco and an absolute delight.  If it’s amazing purple ruby colour was not enough, once you taste this gently dry, lively sparkling wine full of juicy cranberry and blueberry fruit, you too will be converted. The grape variety, Lambrusco Salamino, comes from a single vineyard in the family’s Tenuta Rampata estate.  Now run by the fourth generation since its foundation in the 19th century, the winery has kept the tradition and expertise of making the finest Lambrusco, cropping regularly to increase quality, with vineyards care and attention to detail – matched by a modern cellar.

Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato 2021, Australia  Few wines are more evocative of Valentine’s Day than a sparkling rosé.  The gently sparkling Innocent Bystander, made from Muscat of Alexandria and Black Muscat grapes, is vibrantly pink, aromatic, rich and fruity.  With notes of blackcurrant and Turkish delight, lifted by the citrus notes of mandarin peel, this is simply delicious, with intense flavours of strawberry, violets and a touch of honey and a cleansing natural acidity.

Grapes are grown in the cool Yarra Valley by the Brown Brothers, one of Australia’s leading family-owned wine companies. Their main winery in Milawa, Northern Victoria, is also home to a ‘Kindergarten Winery’, so called because it’s specially designed for small batches of unusual grapes and different winemaking techniques, making wines in a very natural way.

This wine is a delicious discovery, perfect on its own or at the end of a meal, and at just 5.5% alcohol by volume, you may well want to open a second bottle.