Sparkling Wine on a Budget Part 1 of 2: Henkell Trocken Sekt, Riccadonna Asti and Yarra Burn Cuvée Brut

When it comes to Champagne (or sparkling wines), my preferences are not strong.  Gosset is a favourite, Krug would be if money were no object, and I am partial to Bollinger too.  I might soon add a Clover Hill vintage release to this list, although I see I didn’t seem to like it so much last time I tried it in a set of Champagnes.  Most of the other readily available Champagne grande marques are hardly offensive either: well made, easy to drink, good quality.  This post though is about none of those wines – instead, it is close to the opposite – the sub $25 sparkling wine market.  By this I mean the Sekts, the Crémants, the Australian sparklers and the lower end Cavas and Astis of the world.  I’ve looked at these more than once at “Dan’s” and wondered: what if they are good?  And even if not, would these ruin a kir royal?

I got to answer the former question as part of an exercise I did earlier this week tasting through a number of non-premium sparkling wines for the WSET Diploma with Kate McIntyre MW.  What surprised me is that there’s some good value to be had here.  Not always, mind you.  But some are definitely worth a look.

Henkell Trocken Fine Sekt 

At $13.95, it is not sensible to expect the world.  Despite having a Germanic name, “Sekt” can in fact be made from grapes grown outside of Germany, unlike “Deutscher Sekt”.   The variety of the grapes used in the Sekt is not specified.

An off dry “dry”.

Solid rather than good, it has a bright, pale intensity lemon-green colour with medium sized bubbles and short persistence of bubbles.  The aroma is youthful, with a medium intensity expression of apples, pears and cinnamon, with a touch of lemon rind.  The palate is, despite its name, off-dry, with medium-high acid, a creamy mousse, medium alcohol and body, flavours of apples and pears, and short length.  It’s not too bad.  Drink it cold.  77 points (fine)

Abv: 11.5%
Price: $13.95
Tasted: April 2012

Riccadonna Asti
At $12.99 per bottle, this wine is even cheaper, and is from the Asti region in north-western Italy.  It is bright, with a pale intensity lemon colour, with large bubbles, and medium persistence of fizz.

Made from white muscat grapes, this fact becomes immediately apparent from the wine’s aroma: a medium-high intensity aroma of grapes, green apples and ginger, with a waft of sweetness in the air.  On the palate, the wine is medium-sweet, with medium acid, a creamy texture, light alcohol and pronounced flavour intensity, with similar notes of grapes and apples.  This wine is soundly put together and quite enjoyable, and not surprisingly for the price, not complex.  84 points (good)

Abv: 7%

Price: $12.99
Tasted: April 2012

Yarra Burn Cuvée Brut NV
Cheaper still, at $12.20 per bottle, comes the Yarra Burn Cuvée Brut NV (part of the Accolade Wines group), made from the classic sparkling varieties of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, with grapes sourced from Victoria.

It is a pale intensity yellow in colour, with fine bubbles, and medium persistence.  The nose has a touch of cloves, apples, cashew nuts and brioche.  The palate is dry, with high acid, a creamy texture, medium alcohol and intensity of flavour, medium length, and notes of apples and pears.  A simple wine that retains its primary fruit flavours and aromas.  81 points (good)

Abv: 12.5%
Price: $12.20
Tasted: April 2012

In part two of this post, I’ll post reviews of three different crémants, and a Cava.  The crémants were interesting, even if I felt they needed a bit more “love” to move up to the next level.  The Cava reminded me of aspirin.

Please leave a comment