Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made using the same traditional method as Champagne and many top sparkling wines, but using a largely local mix of grapes. Recent years have seen a wealth of great affordable examples becoming available in New Zealand, with this year presenting such a slick and well-priced assortment that they warrant their own section.
Torre Oria Cava Brut NV $13.99
This cut-price cava is one of the best-value bottles of bubbly you'll find for under $15. Ripe notes of stonefruit, apple and citrus are joined by a gentle yeasty note, which leads to a crisp clean finish. Available at winedirect.co.nz and blackmarket.co.nz.
Vega Barcelona Brut-Seleccion Cava NV $18.99
Notes of white peach, orange blossom and creme brulee combine in this zingy, dry, great value cava. Available from Fine Wine Delivery Company, Accent on Wine and Liquorland North Cross.
Castillo Perelada Brut Reserva Cava NV $19.90
A classy weightier style of cava with a fresh palate that fuses notes honey, nut, lemon and herb. From Glengarry.
Codorniu Seleccion Raventos Methode Tradicional Pinot Noir Cava NV $29.95
There's real complexity to this pinot noir-based rosé cava in which rich notes of bread yeast are deftly balanced by notes of bright berry fruits and red apple. From Good Wine Company, Liquorland Forrest Hill.
Our cool climate helps New Zealand make some of the most impressive sparkling wines in the Southern Hemisphere. We're spoiled for choice when selecting local bubbly, but here are some standouts:
Te Hana Sparkling Rosé Cuvee NV $19.99
In this easy-drinking pinot noir rosé, juicy and mouth-filling strawberry fruit is to the fore supported by an attractive savoury element. Widely available from grocery shops and liquor retailers.
Lindauer Special Reserve Brut Cuvee NV $15.99
Lindauer is still the source of some of the most consistently stylish sparkling wines at the more affordable end of the market. As well as its crisp apple character, there's an attractive toasty complexity in its special reserve that's a rare find in this price bracket. Widely available from grocery shops and liquor retailers.
Stoneleigh Marlborough Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV $25.99
Its palate of succulent passionfruit and zingy lime laced with green herbs makes this one of the most appealing sparkling sauvignons on the market. Widely available from leading liquor retailers.
Allan Scott "Cecilia" Marlborough Methode Traditionelle Brut NV $28
Dry, well balanced and with good intensity, this blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from sparkling specialist Allan Scott exhibits notes of white peach, zesty grapefruit and a beguiling thread of incense-like florals. From Glengarry and other selected fine wine outlets.
Quartz Reef Central Otago Methode Traditionelle Brut NV $36.99
Quartz Reef's Rudi Bauer is responsible for some of the country's most refined sparkling wines, with this elegant example from his Bendigo Estate vineyard layering notes of pear and apple over a savoury undercurrent and exhilarating line of citrus and flinty mineral. From Glengarry, Caro's, Fine Wine Delivery Company and The Village Winery.
Johanneshof Cellars Marlborough Blanc de Noirs Methode Traditionelle Brut NV $40
Beautiful pinot noir-based bubbles that have gained depth and complexity from initial fermentation in French oak followed by longer lees ageing than most in Johanneshof's underground cellars. Strands of spice, biscuit and nut and savoury notes are woven around a taut core of mineral and citrus. From Glengarry, The Village Winery, Kohi Corner Bottle Shop, The Wine Barrel, Millar and Co and selected fine wine stores.
Cloudy Bay Pelorus Vintage 2007 $39.99
A local classic, Cloudy Bay's 2007 vintage Pelorus is rich and creamy, with nuances of honey cake and nut counterpoised with fresh notes of white fruits and citrus. From fine wine retailers.
Akarua Vintage Bannockburn Central Otago Brut 2010 $45.50
The first vintage release from one of the country's newest, most exciting sparkling ventures between Central Otago's Akarua winery and veteran sparkling wine consultant and ex-CEO of Domaine Chandon, Dr Tony Jordan. With great finesse, the wine combines notes of lively green apple, mineral and a hint of praline. Find at Glengarry.
Nautilus Vintage Rosé 2011 $49.95
Nautilus has just released its first sparkling rosé as a commemorative edition to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The graceful rosé has crisp citrus and apple palate infused with notes of rose petal, orange zest and anise. This limited edition is available in a ballet-themed gift box. From Glengarry and selected wine stores.
Great fizz now effervesces from many of the coolest winegrowing regions around the world, but Champagne is still the producer of some of the very finest examples. If you're looking for something special to celebrate with over the holiday season, this is my top champagne selection:
Champagne Cattier Premier Cru Brut NV $59.95
For those seeking a classy champagne at an affordable price, Cattier's Brut Premier Cru has a long history of delivering year after year. Fresh and fragrant in style, it's a well-balanced bubbly boasting notes of citrus, stone fruit and hint of marzipan. Available from La Cantina, Wine and More.
Champagne Gardet Brut Selected Reserve NV $67.99
Such richness in a champagne at this price is hard to find, but Champagne Gardet's selected reserve reveals a full-bodied nutty example with notes reminiscent of toasted almonds and dried apricots underpinned by grapefruit and mineral. From Fine Wine Delivery Company.
Champagne J de Telmont Grande Reserve Brut NV $69.99
A lovely champagne from a lesser-known family-run champagne house with some good weight behind its poised palate of white fruits, bread crust and nut. Find at La Barrique.
Champagne Pierre Paillard Brut Grand Cru NV $80
Bold and ripe but well-balanced, this fabulous cuvee is made exclusively with grapes sourced from grand cru vineyards and boasts notes of baked apple, fig, brioche and hazelnut backed by a vibrant acidity. From Accent on Wine and www.stvincentscave.com.
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV $99
Charles Heidsieck's Brut Reserve has been given a makeover, but what you get in the bottle is just as chic as the new packaging. Containing 40 per cent reserve wines up to 15 years of age, this opulent but fresh assemblage exudes notes of white peach, nougat, apple pastry and a savoury suggestion of button mushroom. Available at Glengarry.
Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV $116
Power and finesse combine in the bold form of Bollinger, a well-structured and richly textured champagne with a voluptuous palate of baked apple, spice, brioche and honey juxtaposed by a firm fresh spine of citrus and mineral. Widely available through supermarkets and retail including Glengarry, Liquorland, Liquor King, Gilmours and Countdown.
Champagne Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie NV $129
Fermentation in oak gives this single vineyard wine from Taittinger weight and tastiness to its elegant palate of apple and grapefruit and minerally core. From Glengarry, Caro's and Fine Wine Delivery Company.
Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV $178
One of the great rosé champagnes, Billecart-Salmon is the epitome of finesse with its delicate and pure fruit profile, notes of silky citrus and magnificently creamy mousse. This is a real treat. Available at www.advintage.co.nz.
All the wines here were tasted blind, with the best selected from the top scoring wines in each category based on style and price.