Celebrate with Bubbles

Robust, richly flavoured whites and reds hit the spot in winter, but during the festive season and summer holidays, light, vivacious wines, appetisingly crisp and refreshing, are in high demand.   Here are some top tips for sparkling and rosé wines — served gently chilled, of course — that will add a sense of fun and relaxation to your end-of-year celebrations and holiday get-togethers.


Fizz, bubbly, sparkling — whatever name you call it by, wine with bubbles in it is widely adored.  The word ‘champagne’ should be reserved for the sparkling wines of that most famous of all wine regions, east of Paris.  Italy’s favourite fizz, prosecco, is grown in the country’s northeast, near Venice.  Unlike champagne, prosecco is not given a secondary, bubble-creating fermentation in the bottle, leaving it with less complex flavours.  But it’s also quicker and cheaper to produce, and is now attracting imitators in Australia.



Cloudy Bay Pelorus Vintage 2010

This classy Marlborough wine spent seven years maturing on its yeast lees.  Highly fragrant, with intense, citrusy, peachy, biscuity characters, crisp and complex, it’s a real mouthful of flavour.  $50


Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV

Looking for a bargain? The non-vintage wine I tasted recently was made from chardonnay grown in Gisborne.  Very pale straw, with a yeasty fragrance, it is lively and lemony, with very good intensity and a finely balanced, dryish finish.  $15


Bollinger Special Cuvée NV

Full of personality, this famous champagne (the real stuff) is a rich blend of pinot noir (60%), chardonnay (25%) and pinot meunier (15%). Disgorged after maturing for three years on its yeast lees and blended with reserve wines up to 15 years old, it is invitingly scented, with satisfying body and a strong surge of biscuity, complex flavours, appetisingly crisp, lively and long.  $75-$120


Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Rosé NV

This non-vintage wine is blended from Hawke’s Bay chardonnay and Marlborough pinot noir.  Pale pink, it is lively, with strong, strawberryish, peachy, spicy flavours, gentle yeasty notes adding complexity, and a dryish finish. $22


Aimery Crémant de Limoux Grande Cuvée Brut Rosé NV 1/2

Bright pink, this blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir was grown in southern France and bottle-fermented. It is medium-bodied, with lively, strawberryish, slightly peachy and spicy flavours, yeasty notes, and excellent complexity and harmony.  $26   


Deutz Marlborough Prestige Cuvée 2015

This outstanding wine is notably complex and tight-knit, with searching, citrusy, yeasty, slightly peachy flavours that float across the palate to a crisp, lasting finish.  $33


Vino Dell ‘Amicizia Prosecco NV

Prosecco, Italy’s favourite fizz, made from the glera variety, is currently fashionable around the world.  Very fresh and lively, this is a classic example, light-bodied (11% alc/vol), with crisp, citrusy, appley flavours, strong and vigorous. $27



Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Rosé 2019

This classy rosé is pink/pale red, with loads of youthful vigour and charm.  It has fresh, strong strawberry, watermelon and spice flavours, with a dry, lasting finish.  $23


Le Versant Pays d’Oc Grenache Rosé 2018 1/2

From Languedoc, in the South of France, this bright pink, attractively scented wine is lively and smooth, with good body and strong, ripe peach, apricot and spice flavours, fresh and dry.  $23


Lawson’s Dry Hills Pink Pinot 2019 1/2

This characterful Marlborough rosé is brimful of flavour.  Bright pink, it has generous strawberry and watermelon flavours, slightly spicy notes, excellent vigour, and a dry, lingering finish.  $25

Astrolabe Comelybank Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2019

This classy wine is a blend of pinot noir (mostly) and pinot gris.  Bright, light pink, it is a very fragrant and fleshy wine, with strong peach, strawberry and spice flavours, and a smooth, fully dry finish.  $25


Taylors Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

Currently at its peak, this bright pink wine is vibrantly fruity, with good body, strong strawberry and spice flavours, appetising acidity and a dry, lively finish.  $19

(Note: the wines are rated for quality out of a maximum of five stars.)


Michael Cooper is New Zealand’s most acclaimed wine writer, with 44 books and several major literary awards to his credit. This year he’s tasted over 2,500 wines in order to produce his annual wine guide — New Zealand Wines 2020: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide (Upstart Press, $39.99 RRP). Now in its 28th year, the book is firmly established as the most authoritative and sought-after guide to New Zealand wines. See michaelcooper.co.nz for more.


Words: Michael Cooper