New World sparklers shine

A benchmarking scheme for sparkling wine has completed its first assessments with New World fizz surprising the panel of experts.

The scheme gives Champagne and sparkling wine producers a confidential report, judging their products against rivals to give them an idea of how to pitch products specifically for the UK market.

The benchmarking process saw sparkling wines from Argentina, Australia, Burgundy, Champagne, Chile, England, Italy, Languedoc, Loire, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia and Spain assessed by a panel including Waitrose sparkling wine buyer Dee Blackstock MW and M&S sparkling wine buyer Sue Daniels.

They joined Graham Beck winemaker Pieter Ferreira and wine writer Simon Woods, along with Sparkling Wine Review co-chairmen Jamie Goode, Sam Harrop MW, Jean-Marc Sauboua and John Worontschak. Wines were subject to blind tasting, technical analysis and commercial and packaging appraisals.

Harrop said: “A couple of our reviewers were a little uncertain about it initially, but once the process began they were unanimous in their agreement that it was the most comprehensive and interesting way to assess wines.

“It enabled us to dissect each wine in great detail without any possible bias.

“Of course there were some stars from Champagne, cava and Prosecco, but it was the styles coming through from the New World that really surprised the panel, with some offering incredible value with exceptional complexity and quality.

“Sparkling wine is a global category that needs a lot of commercial attention and respect and we hope that our efforts will not only help producers make better wine, but bring a greater spotlight on the category to help overall sales from all regions.”?Tasting notes and scores from those companies submitting wine which consent to publication will appear on the Sparkling Wine Review website in January.