The Wine Guy Eddie McDougall: Festive fizz

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It’s that time of year when every supermarket and department store you walk into in Hong Kong is glammed up to the nines with tinsel and retro Santa images while blasting out Mariah Carey’s Christmas anthems. This familiar combination of merry vibes also is the trigger that unleashes the cork on several bottles of festive bubbly wines. I’ve selected a few must-pop bubblies under $300 for the festive season. Check these out while stocking up your trolley…

Guilbaud Crémant de Loire Brut NV – Loire Valley, France
There’s a secret bubbling under every Frenchman that he doesn’t want you to know – that the country that’s home to champagne loves to drink crémant. This guarded gem is a shock to many due to the outstanding marketing pushed by the powers at Moët, Veuve and Bollinger. This offering by Guilbaud clearly smells like bread dough or brioche, and pulls together the best characteristics of chenin blanc (45 percent), chardonnay (40 percent) and cabernet (15 percent). The wine tastes as if you smashed green apples together and dropped in a hint of vanilla extract. What elevates this bottle above other recently tasted crémants I’ve had is the noticeable yeasty palate, a creamy softness and the length that both maintain. A blast with octopus, king prawns, scallops or sashimi. $165. Available at The Flying Winemaker, 604-605 Yu Yuet Lai Bldg, 43-55 Wyndham St, Central, 2522 2187; flyingwinemaker.asia.

Gilles Gaudron Triple Zéro La Symphonie Vouvray 2009 – Loire Valley, France
The citizens of Vouvray, a sub-region in the Loire Valley, are cuckoo for chenin blank. It’s no surprise then that a sparkling Vouvray has made the cut and this particular bottle will surely be a popular pre-Christmas buy for many. It smells distinctly like Chinese pears with a slight nuttiness. It’s a wine which doesn’t hold back, with a toasty, buttery and very mineral, chalky palate. Brilliant value for money with an enviably long finish. Delicious by itself, with foie gras or roasted poultry. $180. Available at Jebsen, 28/F, Caroline Ctr, 28 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay, 2926 2240; jebsenfinewines.com

Grace Angelina Sparkling NV – Xijian, China
What would the traditionalists say about this one!? I’ve had the opportunity to taste many Chinese wines but rarely have they cracked my lists (only three times in four years). This sparkling chardy fully deserves it and begins with a lovely aromatic nose of green fruits – particularly lime – apple and honeydew. It’s fresh, zesty and has a fractional spicy character at the end that I am crazy about and a gentle minerality with good acidity. The young and energetic fresh flavour is so palpable it’s even crunchy. Chinese parents are staunchly proud of their children, and as this is named after the winemaker’s own daughter, you know it’s going to be good. Drink with salty seafood-based canapés or small bites. $225. Available at Ponti, 3 Yuen Yuen St, Happy Valley, 2972 2283; pontiwinecellars.com.hk.

Follow Eddie on Twitter @eddiewinemaker

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