6 sparkling wines to ring in the new year
New Year’s Eve means it’s showtime for sparkling wines.
Retail shelves groan with a dazzling assortment of styles to delight every taste and pocketbook. The tastiest sparkling wines come from a process known in France as either méthode champenoise or méthode traditionnelle .
Producers the world over now use this method which means the sparkling bubbles come from a secondary fermentation that took place in the bottle itself. Persistent sparkle and generally richer flavors and silkier texture result.
When opening a sparkling wine, always point the bottle away from your guests and yourself. Cover the top with a towel, and then gently ease the cork out with a little pop. You’ll save wine and avoid putting out eyes with a flying cork! Pop the cork of any of the following wines and share some fun:
The Varichon Clerc, Privilège Blanc de Blancs , Méthode Traditionnelle, France (Luxury 36033; $13.99) comes from a blend ugni blanc, colombard, chenin blanc,
chardonnay and jacquère, all white-skinned grapes. Together they give the wine a light straw color with modest, but fine beads of bubbles. Pleasing floral and citrus aromas greet the nose. Fruity citrus and apple flavors unfold in the glass and carry through a fresh, well-balanced finish with pleasant, subtle fruitiness. All in all, an easy drinking, well-priced wine that’s fun to share. Recommended.
The Dopff Irion, Crémant d’Alsace Rosé Brut, Alsace, France (Luxury 76124; $19.99) comes from dark-skinned pinot noir grapes grown in limestone and chalky soils for optimal freshness. Alsace’s sunny and dry, yet relatively cool climate ripens the grapes fully while retaining fine freshness.
After being harvested by hand, the grapes go directly into a gentle pneumatic press to create the wine’s lovely salmon pink color. Secondary fermentation in the bottle gives the wine fine, persistent sparkling beads. In the glass, light floral and lovely red currant aromas open to red fruit and citrus flavors. Fresh acidity and light creamy notes balance a dry, crisp finish. Highly Recommended.
The Roederer Estate, Anderson Valley Brut, California (7933; on sale, $23.99) comes from vineyards far north of San Francisco near the Pacific Ocean. The location offers perfect “terroir” for producing sparkling wines. Cool nights followed by sunny, hot days ripen the fruit slowly and evenly to balance ripeness with delightful freshness.
The wine’s light-straw color offers fine beads of frothy bubbles. Pleasant citrus and yeasty aromas open to round fruit flavors layered in refreshing, mellow acidity. A crisp, yet creamy, texture carries through the dry, well-balanced finish. Highly Recommended.
Turning to France’s famed Champagne sparkling wines, Champagne Moutard Père et Fils, Grande Cuvée Demi-Sec, France (Luxury 47833; $28.99) delivers a kiss of fruity, well-balanced sweetness in the finish. The wine comes from hand-harvested Pinot Noir grapes offering ripe fruitiness and fresh acidity, a perfect foundation for creating delightful sparkling wine. Fine beads of bubbles lace this wine’s golden color. In the glass, honeysuckle and pineapple aromas open to fruity citrus and pineapple flavors. The fruity, mouthwatering finish lingers pleasantly. Highly Recommended.
The Bertrand-Delespierre, Champagne Brut Premier Cru, France (Luxury 75616; $39.99) comes from a small, family-owned estate growing chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, Champagne’s traditional varieties. The family uses only its own fruit to produce this delicious wine which features a golden color with long, fine beads of bubbles. Aromas of ripe apples and baked bread open to beautifully balanced citrus and ripe fruit flavors. Fine acidity and touch of creaminess frames the crisp, dry finish. Recommended.
To kick out the jams and drink like royalty, try the Champagne Laurent-Perrier, Cuvée Rosé Brut, France (Luxury 31244; $79.99), a favorite tipple of Britain’s Prince Charles. The wine uses top quality pinot noir grapes from hundreds of growers with estates located exclusively in a variety of Champagne’s “grand cru” villages.
The sparkler’s beguiling dark pink color comes from patient maceration of the juices on the grapes’ dark skins. The process also creates delightful aromas and flavors of strawberries, red currants and black cherries. Marvelous frothy freshness ties the wine together through a fruity, dry finish. Recommended.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.