Eight wines to drink if there's a prosecco and sauvignon blanc drought

The wine world can't make up its mind whether 2015 will see a shortage of Italy's favourite sparkling wine, but New Zealand sauvignon blanc will be in short supply

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 June, 2015, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 June, 2015, 3:14pm

The world’s drinks press can’t decide if there is a prosecco drought this summer or not. There is going to be a shortage of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, though.

It’s hot and tense outside, and that’s all the excuse we need to look for alternatives.

Prosecco is designed as an aperitif but is often treated as a summer quaffer for all-day drinking. It often has a sharp but short-lived attack from its fizz, followed by sweetness and not much else in the mouth, sometimes some apple or pear. It’s also extremely good value. Sauvignon blanc tends to make great aperitifs and New Zealand ones are generally good value. I find it too acid to be an all-day drinking wine.

So in terms of substitutes we’re looking for a simple, good-value, thirst-quenching drink that doesn’t challenge the palate or the wallet.  Here are eight that have caught my attention recently.

If you’re thinking champagne, most disqualifies itself on price grounds alone, and because it is more complex than its Italian counterpart. Having said that, I am a fan of big brand Piper Heidsieck brut, for its simplicity and ease of drinking. It's widely available in Hong Kong, at around HK$330 a bottle.

France does, though, produce other sparklers, such as cremant de Bourgogne. If you haven’t heard of this wine before, that’s because it makes up about 1 per cent of the region’s exports. This is made the champagne way, although aged for less time, and from similar grapes – a little aligote is added to pinot noir and chardonnay. This drink is far more in line with prosecco prices, at HK$160/bottle from burgundylist.com.

For a more unusual sparkling wine, try the malbec from Cahors that goes under the name Somnam Bulles, a pun on the French for sleepwalking. Fabien Jouves is known for making easy-going, very fruity wines with fun names like Le Vin Qui Rap or Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees. The sparkling red is no exception, but it does come towards the top end of our price criteria – it’s HK$100 a glass or HK$420 a bottle at La Cabane on Hollywood Road, Central.

The same company can you sell you a bottle of Montrieux 2011 for HK$230, but you might want to try a glass at HK$95 first. As they say, this chenin blanc is a marmite wine, with an unusual flavour of oysters and whisky.
You could do worse than try the Amphibolite Nature, also from the Loire Valley, in this case from Muscadet Sèvre et Maine but not rested on its lees, as most of that region’s wine are. The melon de bourgogne is crisp and rounded, balancing a salty minerality with honey. La Cabane sells it for HK$180 a bottle.

Another from the Loire valley we can also recommend is the Domaine Jean Paul Balland 2013 Sancerre (Watson’s HK$188/bottle). This is almost too good to fit our criteria, with great grapefruit flavour and minerality and length. While it’s too complex to be a quaffer, it fits the bill as an aperitif.

It’s off to South Africa for another example of the Loire Valley’s best known grape variety, chenin blanc. It’s also one of South Africa’s most widely grown grapes. Radford Dale winery in Stellenbosch makes The Renaissance of Chenin Blanc, 2013 (HK$208, Watson’s) and it’s definitely an aperitif and not a quaffer. It has great freshness from its acidity and minerality and is well-rounded in the mouth with good length.

Switching grapes, for a good everyday drinking wine look to the Fattori pinot grigio Valparadiso 2013 from Italy (HK$148/bottle, Watson’s). This is light, and has a pleasant drying effect on the mouth.

Of course, in weather like this you might just like a glass of cold water (free, taps).