Sparkling wines for sparkling mums
All mums sparkle.
Perhaps when we are younger we feel it’s more spark than sparkle as we are read the riot act one more time, but our wonderful mums whose unconditional love keeps us on the straight and narrow, deserve some recognition and a little ‘pay back’.
Hopefully, this happens more often than just once a year, but Mother’s Day gives us all a special opportunity to say ‘thanks’ for all the cooking, ironing, washing and mending of scraped knees that happens over the years.
Although celebrated on different days in other countries, often in May, in the UK it is always on the fourth Sunday of Lent and has religious origins going back at least to the 16th century and possibly medieval times. Most research seems to indicate that originally, the day was to return halfway through Lent, to the ‘mother church’, where the person grew up and hence the proper name of Mothering Sunday. It also became a tradition for daughters who were in domestic service to return home from work to visit their mothers.
Revived in 1914, it became a day for national recognition and celebration of motherhood and mothers. In medieval times mothering was complicated, demanding and difficult – much the same as in the 21st century! Mothers thus deserve to be celebrated and indulged on this Sunday of public expression of our thanks and gratitude. Along with the flowers and the chocolates, there is nothing quite like a delicious glass of quality sparkling wine to make her feel really special. Every year the choice gets wider, including our very own home-grown selection of fizz, all of which is top notch when it comes to a quality tipple. Traditional method of production – the same as for making champagne – is the order of the day and both the English sparklers I have chosen to spoil the Mother in your life, are made in this way, albeit in two different counties of Southern England. The first is Balfour Leslie’s Reserve, a non-vintage wine from Hush Heath Winery in Kent. Pale gold with a hint of pink, the wine has great fruit character, with citrus and apple notes, a creamy mousse, good depth of flavour and just off-dry on the finish. £26.99 from Waitrose.
My second English wine is Jenkyn Place Classic Cuvée Brut 2013, a refined, dry sparkler from Hampshire. £24.99 from Ocado. Made from the three classic champagne grape varieties, it has some toasty brioche flavours and aromas, complexity and depth from long cellar ageing.
Two other sparkling wines, which will be met with approval, are both delicate pinks – one from France and one from Spain, and both made by Traditional Method, the only way of making true quality fizz. The Wine Society has a very pale Saumur Brut Rosé from the Loire Valley in France, which is dry, delicate and has delicious floral and strawberry aromas. Mainly from Cabernet Franc grapes, it makes the perfect aperitif for Sunday lunch (£11.50).
My Spanish choice is a Cava Reserva Rosé Brut from Vilarnau. Presented in a decorated bottle, it makes a great impression, not just visually, but also on the palate. It is packed with summer fruit flavours, with a lingering, dry finish. (£12, Tesco or Ocado).
Delicious, quality sparkling wines, just perfect for Mum to enjoy on her special day this Sunday, while someone else cooks the lunch.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.