We are officially in holiday mode and that means it is the most “bubbly time of the year.” According to the Wine Institute, 40 percent of sparkling wine and Champagne for the year is sold in the fourth quarter.
Although I am a year-round bubbly kind of gal, nothing embodies the holidays more than the festive pop of a cork. As I plan for my annual sparkling wine tasting that I hold for my girls’ wine group, I am in festive mode.
Champagne is very different than sparkling wines such as prosecco, cava and Franciacorta. Some sparkling wines are made in the traditional Methode Champenoise, not all of them can be called Champagne unless they are made in the region of Champagne, France.
Champagne and sparkling wines can be very dry (brut), slightly sweet (extra dry) or sweet (sec and demi-sec). You will also see them identified as “blanc de blancs” (Chardonnay grapes), “blanc de noirs” (wines from black grapes such as Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) or rose sparkling wines.
Here’s my list of sparkling wine and Champagne recommendations at all price ranges:
De Chanceny Cremant de Loire ($13)
This wine from the Loire Valley is complex with notes of apple, flowers, white stone fruit and lime. It is lovely and one of the best values out there.
Bocelli Prosecco NV, Italy ($17)
Made by that Bocelli that sings opera… It is full of green apple, tropical fruits, pear and floral notes. The Bocelli family collaborates with Trevisiol, the first family of prosecco.
Fratelli Berlucchi Rose ($27)
Franciacorta comes from Lombardy in Northern Italy, which is the well-known region for Italian sparkling wines using the traditional method of re-fermentation in the same bottle and the first to obtain Italy’s Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation.
I can almost guarantee that you’d be introducing your guests to something that they had not had a chance to try before.
J Vineyards Brut Rose NV ($38).
This is one of my favorite sparkling wines. I love the strawberry and cherries, baked French pastry and a silky texture.
Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($56)
This is what I am serving at the girl’s tasting. It is one of my favorite grower’s Champagnes, and is a favorite of many sommeliers. It has notes of apple, apricot, floral, fresh bread, lemon zest and orange with a finish that lasts forever.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne ($80)
This is elegant, beautiful and is amazing. I taste citrus, pear, raspberry, flowers with some herbs and spice at the end.
In the words of the late Lily Bollinger, figurehead of the Bollinger champagne house, describing her attitude toward drinking Champagne:
“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty.”
A very smart lady giving me the right direction on enjoying this holiday season. Will you join me?