Photo by Becca Sabot
Happy New Year! I love bubbles and can always think of a reason to drink them, but this time of year it just makes sense. With the quality and selection out there, in all price points and regions, there is no excuse. Whether it’s cava from Spain, an Italian prosecco, or anything sparkly from the rest of the globe, it can make an average evening special. The method used all over the world to make sparkling wines is méthode champenoise or traditional method, where the second fermentation that creates the bubbles happens in the bottle. Though used everywhere, the method was perfected in Champagne, France, which is why “méthode champenoise” is often printed on the label.
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Brut 2006 (Épernay, Champagne, France) $229.99
My wine career began at the Rainbow Room in New York, and afforded me the great luck to taste a lot of Champagne I could never have afforded on my own. In my opinion, it’s the most versatile beverage in the wine world. The Champagne region, located roughly 75 miles northeast of Paris, grows mainly chardonnay, pinot noir, and a lesser know grape, pinot meunier. The process of making Champagne is complex and expensive, but this house, founded in 1811, has had 204 years to get it right. Belle Epoque, also known as Fleur de Champagne, is its vintage prestige cuvée: only made in great years, to create something exceptional. The nose is yeasty, like a buttery criossant, with apple and citrus fruit, an elegant bubble, and a clean tart finish. Share this one with someone special and make sure you both remember every sip. Old Vine Wine Shop, Mall of America, Bloomington, 952-858-8800
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Rose Cava (Catalonia, Spain) $9.99
Pinot noir, trepat
Delicious! With its fresh raspberry fruit on the nose and strawberry and cherry on your tongue, it’s tough to find a cava or any sparkling wine of this quality for twice the price. The winery, founded in 1943, has taken every step necessary to produce quality bubbles from the start. While using mostly grapes of Spanish origin, it grew its own pinot noir for this wine, because the grape makes great rose. Plus, the winery imports its yeasts from Champagne for quality and consistency. You can afford to grab a bunch of bottles and serve this to a larger group, but don’t stop there. A fun host gift, it’s also a good one to keep around the house all year long. I do sell this in my day job, so I may be a bit biased, but I can always find an occasion to drink it. Hennepin-Lake Liquor Store, 1200 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-825-4411
PLUS THREE MORE FAVORITES
Spumante Extra Dry Blu Prosecco (Veneto, Italy) $18.99
Light and delicious, this one has apple and lemon with a soft finish that keeps you wanting more. This is perfect for a larger group or for mimosas the morning after.
Domaine Laurier Brut NV (Ceres, CA) $19.99
This wine has a light grapefruit on the nose with tart lemon and a hint of honey. Fun, with lots of bubbles, you can drink it to start your evening or to toast in any celebration.
Sophora Sparkling Cuvée (Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand) $27.99
Chardonnay, pinot noir
Medium bodied with a flowery nose and rich with pear notes, this one has a clean finish with crisp acid that balances it out. It’s my first sparkling wine from New Zealand, and I look forward to more.