Nine great sparkling wines for Christmas

John Wilson picks his favourite bottles of bubbly wines from independent merchants

I have covered some of the multiples over the last few weeks; now the independent wine shops and off-licences. This group has suffered a lot in recent years, firstly as a result of the recession, but more recently due to pressure from the supermarkets discounting wine and spirits heavily in the run-up to Christmas. They deserve your support; these are the people who make an effort to bring in really interesting handmade, artisan wines. They also know their wines, and will be able to offer you genuine, knowledgeable advice.

Some of these wines have featured in my column in The Irish Times, some in my wine guide, Wilson on Wine 2019, others are new exciting wines that I have discovered over the last few months. Together, they make up a list of wines that would certainly cover all of my Christmas wishes.

Manzanilla Pasada en Rama Pastora, Barbadillo 
15% €14 per half bottle
An aged, full-bodied Manzanilla sherry, ideal as an aperitif with Iberico ham. Full, yeasty, briny nose, a rich palate with green apples, slightly funky with green olives, lightly toasted almonds and a crisp saline finish. The perfect chef's treat while making Christmas dinner.
From JJ O'Driscoll, Ballinlough Road, Co Cork; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, Co Dublin; The Hole in the Wall, Blackhorse Ave, Dublin 7; Deveney's, Main Street, Dundrum, Dublin 16.

Casa Belfi Prosecco Colfondo Frizzante
10.5% €22
A bottle-fermented, cloudy, lightly fizzy wine with funky apple fruits with a crisp and dry finish. Certainly different to your supermarket Prosecco, and great fun to drink.
From Baggot Street Wines, Baggot Street, Dubin 2; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock; Green Man Wines, Terenure Road, Dublin 6W; Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer Street; Loose Canon, 29 Drury Street, Dublin 2; Le Caveau, Market Yard, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny.


Tuffeau 2017, Blancs de Blancs Brut Nature, Domaine Plou
12% €19.50-19.95
I have tasted this several times this year, and enjoyed it every time. Delicious, crisp sparkling wine with lovely clean apple fruits, finishing dry. Grown-up fizz with a touch of class, and great value for money. Serve with mixed tapas.
From Cass & Co, 13 Main Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; Green Man Wines, Terenure Road, Dublin 6W; 64 Wine, Glasthule Road, Glenageary, Co Dublin.

Llopart Brut Reserva 2014, Cava, Organic
11.5% €32
Fresh and lively with lightly creamy apple fruits. Lovely weight on the palate and a crisp finish. A seriously good glass of fizz.
From Blackrock Cellar, 23 Rock Hill, Blackrock, Co Dublin; The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3.

Champagne L Bénard-Pitois Premier Cru Brut NV        
12% €34
I have written about it on many occasions but include it again, as this is one of the standout bargains when it comes to Champagne. All of the Bénard-Pitois Champagnes, imported directly by Whelehan's, offer fantastic value for money. This is a wonderful generous Champagne with a creamy texture, red apple fruits and a mouth-watering, clean, dry finish.            
From Whelehan's Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin.

Champagne Leclerc-Briant Réserve NV Organic 
12% €59
A new arrival to Ireland, this is a supremely elegant Champagne with light notes of citrus and spice, clean apple and brioche, finishing bone dry. By itself or with lighter seafood. 
From; Green Man Wines, Terenure Road, Dublin 6W.

Bollinger Special Cuvée Champagne NV   
12% €60
A rich creamy full-bodied Champagne with brioche, toasted almonds and ripe pear fruits. It has a very fine mousse and good acidity to give it backbone. Great wine.
Very widely available from independent wine shops and off-licences throughout Ireland.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Champagne NV
12% €60
Elegant and restrained with sumptuous peaches and pears, subtle toasted almonds and freshly baked bread. Like most Champagne, this is great with a variety of foods, including toasted almonds, cheese straws and rich fish dishes. A great way to get Christmas started.
Very widely available from independent wine shops and off-licences throughout Ireland.

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV  
12% €61.99
A rich creamy palate laden with ripe peaches and biscuits, underpinned by a fine refreshing citrus acidity. Nuanced and refined, a first-class Champagne. A great aperitif or with anything fishy.
Very widely available from independent wine shops and off-licences throughout Ireland.

Champagne Agrapart & Fils Les 7 Crus Brut NV, Avize
12% €69.50 
Superb, refined relatively full-bodied Blanc de Blancs with ripe bruised strawberry fruits, subtle brioche, and lemon zest, finishing very dry. Excellent Champagne from one of the top grower/producers.
From Terroirs, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

John Wilson is author of Wilson on Wine 2019; you can buy it here