Just to clarify for those that are still confused, sparkling wine can only be called Champagne when it comes from the Champagne region of France. The 3 grapes that can be used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. I know what you’re thinking…how can Pinot Noir be in Champagne when it doesn’t look red? Not to bore you with the full explanation, but it is only the skin of the grape that gives wine it’s color. So for Champagnes that appear all white, they may still have some Pinot Noir in there but the juice does not come in contact with the skins at all. For Rose Champagne they may have them soak together for a short amount of time giving it that pinkish hue (Seinfeld reference anyone?)
While Champagne is the most well known, and revered, of all sparkling wine it also tends to be the most expensive. So if you can roll like that, God bless ya! But there are plenty of value sparkling selections out there that are quite reasonable and damn tasty.
Each region has their own spin on sparkling…Spain has Cava, Italy has Prosecco, France has Cremants (outside of Champagne) and the US has their own bubbly contingency as well. Each region will use the grapes that thrive in that specific region giving these sparkling wines their own personality. Below are a handful of my favorites from the $10 to $100 range to help you ring in the New Year!
Korbel Brut or Brut Rose, CA
Both wines usually score in the high 80s and are super value options. They use a variety of different white grapes for the Brut and Pinot Noir & Gamay for the Rose. Both are no brainers under $15
La Marca Prosecco, Veneto
Nice apple and citrus flavors, dry with lots of mineral character.
Gloria Ferrer Brut, Sonoma
Like the Korbel, this tastes much better than the under $20 price tag. Delicate and creamy with clean apple fruit and hints of yeast. The Rose is killer too.
Domaine Carneros (Taitinger) Brut Rose “Cuvee de la Pampadour” , Napa Valley
Lots of floral and citrus notes surround the black cherry and fruit core. Really high end Champagne feel for half the price of most.
Piper-Heidsieck Brut Cuvee, Champagne
This is my go to Champagne as it suits my palate just right. On the dry side with a beautiful combo of apple, citrus and hints of that yeasty character…lovely for around $35-40.
Schramsberg J. Schram 2005, North Coast, CA
This is as close to a vintage Champagne as you can taste outside of that region…but you’re gonna pay for it. At around $100, this is a serious baller Sparkling selection that always fetches 95+ ratings. But if you prefer California fruit over the French stuff and want that premium Champagne experience, then this is your move!
Wishing you and yours a very Happy and Healthy 2013!!