Sensational sparkling wines to fall for this autumn

Times Drinks Editor James Viner toasts the change of season, by picking the best affordable sparklers to guarantee a corking autumn – especially as the duty on sparkling wines has now been reduced. We’ll drink to that!


Buckle up, as it seems that we wine drinkers will have to dig deeper into our pockets for our favourite bottles this autumn. The price of wine with alcohol content between 11.5 and 14.5 per cent will increase by 44p per bottle, while sherry prices will jump by 97p; port by a staggering £1.30 and spirit duty by 76p per bottle.

It’s important to note that when you add VAT at 20 per cent, the actual amount of duty rise on an average bottle of wine is 53p, which is a double whammy and discouraging for many oenophiles

However, there’s a silver lining – sparkling wine between 11.5 and 14.5 per cent will fall by 19p (a 7 per cent reduction) per bottle, and inexpensive fizz, such as Cava and Prosecco, containing less than 11 per cent alcohol, will decrease by  51p per bottle.

Unlike many retailers, The Wine Society continues to help its members by holding prices in the face of the headwind of alcohol price increases. Notably, they have reduced prices on all their sparkling wines in line with the duty changes in August (see wine number 3 below). That is definitely something worth raising a glass to!


  1. Aldi Contevedo Cava Brut, Spain (£5.45, Aldi,, 11.5%)

Spain’s traditional method (whereby the secondary fermentation, creating the bubbles, takes place in individual bottles) Cava sparkling wines are often good party buys. It’s an enigma, though, how Aldi succeeds in selling its fruity, lip-smacking, green apple peel and lemon zest of a Cava Brut, with only 7.5 grams of residual sugar per litre (half that of most Prosecco) for only £5.45 a pop. Lovely with a tortilla and a great option for a French 75 cocktail. Salud!


  1. NV Graham Beck, M&S The Rhona Brut Rosé, Western Cape, South Africa (£14, Marks & Spencer, instore, 12%)

Nab this ravishing, cut-price Méthode Cap Classique (traditional method) South African sparkling rosé, which overflows with elegant, cranberry and raspberry charm. It’s a stunning bargain with an impressive sense of charm and elegance. The perfect host.


  1. NV Crémant d’Alsace Cuvée Brut Julien Dopff, Alsace, France (£14.31, The Wine Society,, 12%)

Made by the same painstaking traditional method as champagne but usually only half the cost, Crémant is the bottle to buy for parties and, dare I say, the upcoming festive season. This is a textbook Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois blend from a pioneering bubbly specialist in Alsace, delivering notes of dried fruit, apple strudel and flowers with a nourishing, toasty kick on the finish. A lot of fizz for the price. Bring on smoked fish, shellfish and seafood.


  1. Bird in Hand Sparkling 2022, Adelaide Hills, Australia (£15.99, Waitrose,, 12.5%)

Red-fruited, floral, pale, blush pink South Australian aperitif-style sparkling hit: 64 per cent Pinot Noir, plus a dab (15 per cent each) of Chardonnay and Shiraz. Stylish, refreshing and appetising, it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.


  1. NV Langham Estate Culver Classic Cuvée Brut, Dorset, England (£28.50, mix six, or £30.50 per bottle, Lea & Sandeman,, 12%)

Impressive from the word go, this rich, round, youthful but complex Dorset sparkler has a creamy mousse and attractive aromas of toast, butter and red apple. Langham is one of just a few homegrown estates that can rival Champagne. This is their Pinot Noir-dominant blend, mainly from the 2020 base vintage (with 23 per cent reserve wine). Magnificently crafted. The hits keep coming!


Follow James on Instagram @QuixoticWines

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