'Frivolous' fizz from a serious producer, to celebrate spring, coming out of lockdown (in the UK anyway, at last), being alive.
From €15, $19.94, 199 Swedish kronor, 549 Czech koruna, £19.38, HK$250, 299.90 Norwegian kroner, NZ$55, 1,400 New Taiwan dollars
The winemaking-powerhouse Guibert family of Mas de Daumas Gassac (pictured above) make pretty serious wine – their long-lived reds and whites from their beautiful domaine garner international attention and accolades, and last year they made a huge impression on me during my Languedoc and Roussillon round-up. In the light of this, it might seem a little odd that I have chosen one of their most ‘frivolous’ wines as my wine of the week – but it was a wine so unpretentiously lovely and delight-delivering that it actually made me happy the moment I tasted it, and it went straight into the fridge to have with supper that night.
They call it Rosé Frizant and it is a simple Vin Mousseux. It’s a (typically Guibert-crazy) blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and then 30% of Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Petit Manseng and Muscat. The free-run juice from younger Cabernet Sauvignon vines is bled off and blended with the juice from the other grapes and then it is fermented in a closed stainless-steel tank to retain all the fermenting gas. In other words, it’s the Charmat method notoriously associated with cheap, bulk-produced sparkling wine, such as the least noble forms of Prosecco, Lambrusco and Asti Spumante.
The result is, quite frankly, something that is so much fun, it’s like a day at an old-fashioned funfair, whizzing down a creaky wooden helter-skelter on a hessian sack, eating candy floss while listening to a brass band, lobbing wildly at the coconut shy and flopping contentedly on the grass in the sunlight to soak up the simple, happy, silly sounds.
The Charmat method means that the fizz is soft – playful rather than structural. It tastes of tamarillo, guava, salt, tomato jam, blood orange, papaya. The flavours and layers ping and collide across the palate like pinball – you can almost hear the shouts of unfettered laughter. It’s dry but so fruity you could convince yourself otherwise. Sumac and paprika dance in a hot popping popcorn pot. It is silky and weighty and yet there is a racy edge.
It was just perfect with the two Ottolenghi salads we had for supper that night: grilled carrots with coriander yogurt, and grilled courgette with feta and cascabel honey. But, honestly, it’s the kind of wine that will go with absolutely anything you want it to: lunch outside in this stunning spring sunshine we’re having; with charcuterie and baguettes; with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs brunch; with posh scallops, pancetta and pea purée; or with a pizza.
If you’re anything like me, and in that post-long-winter desperate-for-al-fresco phase where you’ll sit wrapped in a duvet just to be outside in the sunshine, then this will make a faithful companion for spring into summer.
The wine is widely available in New York State as well as New Jersey. It’s also sold by at least seven merchants in the UK (Christopher Keiller is the cheapest at £19.38 per bottle with VAT, but you have to buy a case of six; VINVM has the cheapest per-bottle price of £20.55 and Exel Wines is selling it by the bottle at £21.50). You can also find it in France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Taiwan.
Explore more sparkling wines on JancisRobinson.com.
The photographs in this article are provided by the Guibert family.