ALISTAIR GIBSON: Get your Valentine fizzing with a bottle of Hampshire’s finest

Champagne Henri Delattre Rose
Champagne Henri Delattre Rose
The Square Cow, Wickham

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In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s St Valentine’s Day next week, the first opportunity to step out of the winter blues and celebrate.

It’s time for flowers and/or dinner out, and when it comes to wine, something sparkling.

Raimes Blanc de Noirs 2013, Hampshire

Raimes Blanc de Noirs 2013, Hampshire

Depending on your budget, or how much you spent on the flowers, here are three bottles to add sparkle to the day.

I’m not a big fan of entry-level Cava. It’s not a wine that often gets into my tasting glass, but I was pleasantly surprised by Freixenet Cordon Rosado NV (widely available from £10 including Morrisons and Ocado, on offer at Sainsbury’s £7).

It’s the pink partner of Freixenet’s well-known, black-bottled Cordon Negro. It’s never going to win medals for complexity, but it’s approachable and an attractive bright pink. It has a constant stream of bubbles and notes of strawberries and redcurrants, before a fresh palate with citrus in the background. Good as an aperitif or with a berry fruit dessert.

Trading up, Henri Delattre Rosé Champagne (Lidl £14.99) is good-value pink Champagne, part of a new range at Lidl.It’s attractive with a bouquet of red fruits and floral notes, followed by raspberry and lemon sherbet on the palate with nice weight and a touch of sweetness on the finish. At this price it would make a lovely start to the evening or served with that fruit dessert.

Freixenet Cordon Rosado Gran Seleccion Rose

Freixenet Cordon Rosado Gran Seleccion Rose

My tipple of the week and possibly my find of the year so far is produced closer to home – another fantastic example of how good English sparkling wines, Hampshire’s in particular, are.

Raimes Blanc de Noirs 2013, Hampshire ( £29.95, Fareham Wine Cellar £29.95) is the first vintage produced by the Raimes family at Tichborne, near Alresford. Made from a blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier in the traditional Champagne method, it’s aged for 24 months before release. With its beautiful packaging a bottle would make a great St Valentine’s Day gift.

It has a gorgeous colour with fine bubbles. The nose has red apples, spice and a hint of toast. There’s a generous textured palate with some richness, more red apple plus red berries and well-judged acidity. The finish is long with real complexity. As a first release this is lovely. I can’t wait to taste the follow-up vintage and a classic cuvée planned for release later this year. A name to watch. Try as an aperitif or pair with simply-cooked fish or chicken.