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Joined by my sister from Western Australia and her family, Friday night bubbles had to be expanded to two bottles of the good stuff this week. And, they were interesting, and quite different, choices.

Firstly, the week that was: Well, it was a difficult one for people living in Sydney with the dreaded return of Covid, but for me that was offset by arrival of my sisters (one from WA and another from Tassie), for my milestone birthday celebrations. Also, the mighty Rabbitohs smashed Brisbane 46-0, so that always helps.

Now to the important stuff ... the bubbly. First cork popped was Celene Cuvee Royale. It is a French drop from Bordeaux, so just about as far from world bubbly capital of Champagne as you can get in France. For those who don't know, Champagne is north east France (roughly) and Bordeaux is south west.

So, I wasn't expecting too much in the quality department; also it was a bargain basement price. But (and it takes a big man to admit it) I was wrong. This sparkling delight wasn't up there with the top-line champagnes, but it was pretty damn good.

The manufacturer's website describes the wine as so: "The colour is golden yellow with brilliant reflections, the bubble is fine with a persistent foam. On the nose, aromas of fruit emerge, with floral, spicy and roasting notes. The structure on the palate is characteristic of Crémants de Bordeaux, with a non-aggressive effervescence. Long and fruity finish."

OK, I usually have difficulty translating winemakers' ravings, but on this occasion I actually got most of it. Yes the wine was golden in colour, the bubbles were persistent, it smelt pretty good (though roasting notes would describe a heavy-metal song better than wine, I think), and it had a long and fruity finish on the tongue. Initially I thought the phrase "non-aggressive effervescence" would sound better in French, so I checked, and I was wrong ... "effervescence non agressive".

My own take on Celene Cuvee Royale is that it has a nose (smelt) of apricot and honey and that the taste was quite conservative and mellow without the complexity of some French champagnes. Honey-like, was my thought, but of course it wasn't sticky at all.

REPORT CARD: Subject - French. This student has mastered much of the language but falls over when it comes to complex grammar. 7 out of 10.

Alejandro Prosecco 2020

SECOND cab off the rank was Alejandro Prosecco 2020, made by Alex Russell wines in the Riverlands District of South Australia, alongside the mighty Murray River.

Now, my wife and I don't often venture into the prosecco world (not for any good reason), but this fine version of a what I thought was an Italian-style sparkling wine might see us trying a few more. Confusingly the makers seem to think their "prosecco" is Spanish in style rather than Italian. On their website it is described as being "inspired by the sun-beaten soils of Southern Spain".

The bubbly is described by Qantas Wine (where we purchased it with frequent flyer points) as offering "a neutral nose in general but a dash of green apple to gooseberry. A crunchy dry wine a limited residual sugar, balanced by a small addition of malic acid".

That is a remarkably concise description from a "wine expert" but, as usual, a little confusing. What is a "neutral nose? Or a "crunchy" wine? And "malic acid" sounds nasty, although it exists naturally in grapes and becomes more apparent as the grape grows older on the vine.

My take on Alejandro Prosecco is that it is a light and quite dry version of prosecco. Its effervescence (bubbles ... I'm trying to talk posh) is not over the top but substantial enough to please my regular Friday Night Bubbles partner in crime - my wife. Its nose is quite fruity, as is the taste. Maybe more apple than apricot, though I stress once again, what the hell would I know?

The most important thing was that Alejandro Prosecco 2020 went down a treat, smelt good and tasted better.

REPORT CARD: Subject - Geography. The student requires a refresher on map reading. But they shouldn't weather further criticism as there isn't a grand canyon between them and more academically-gifted students. 7 out of 10.

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