As Andrew Chalk noted yesterday, there are some great bubbly options available just in time for the holiday. And, as we are just days away from Christmas, a few more days from the new year, now is the time to add a little extra skip to your step, tingle to your nose, celebration to your glass.
For those looking to save a few dollars on bubbly this year, here is a list of elegant, flavorful and traditionally made sparklers that will please you and even your most finicky guest. I do love Champagne, don’t get me wrong, but alternates like Cava, Prosecco, Sparklers from California to Argentina can often be just as good and cost 1/2 to 1/4 as much. A few of these options were sent for editorial consideration, all are delicious.
jump to read more about seasonal sparklers…
A great buck bubble is Segura Viudas Cava from Spain. Made in the traditional method in the Pendes region of Spain the Sgura Viudas Brut Reserva is made from the main grapes found in most Cava, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, this bubble bottle aged for at least 3 years prior to release. A light, crisp, easy drinking bubbly filled with bright floral aromas with a creamy, nutty finish. And surprising, retails for around $10 a bottle.
The Rose is tasty as well, made from Trepat, Monastrell and Garnacha grapes giving the wine bright berry and currant aromas with a lingering cherry finish, also retailing for around $10. For just a few more dollars you can try Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad made entirely of estate grown Macabeo and Parellada fruit, aged at least 4 years in the bottle with the yeast to give the wine a nutty, toasty aroma with stone fruit and cream on the palate.
If I can’t find Segura Viudas pick up the Brut black bottle of Freixenet. A rich and vibrant bubbly usually retailing for about $11. Freixenet is one of the oldest Cava producers, blending the traditional Cava grapes with a solid balance of acidity and crispness, made in the traditional method with the second fermentation of the wine to create the bubbles in the bottle.
Freixenet has a few additional varieties available now, Elyssia Gran Cuvee Brut and Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut, both made with the same method. I personally like the Rose best, with only Pinot Noir and Trepat grapes used. This wine brings the old world Cava style together with the non-Spanish Pinot Noir grape, resulting in a luscious wine filled with strawberry and raspberry aromas, berry and spice aromas, and a slightly sweet aftertaste with balanced acidity.
Anna Condorniuwas the first Cava house to use Chardonnay in its bubbly, with the Anna de Condorniu Brut using 70% Chardonnay blended with 30% Parellada. The Chardonnay really shines in this Cava with distinct apple, peach and tropical fruit aromas, and palate that balances the acidity of the fruit with the dry flavor profile. This is a subtle wine, easy to drink and a clean finish.
I am a Mumm Napa
fan, I like their philosophy, their production style and best yet, their bubbles. Their 2006 Blanc de Blanc is one of the rare occasions that a year will actually be included on a bottle, as most sparkling wine and Champagne is made from several years of wines blended together prior to second fermentation, creating the perfect wine in the winery style. 2006 was a great year in Napa Valley; though the Valley faced severe flooding early on, the vines did eventually ripen resulting in juicy, vineyard driven fruit being harvested on time. The 2006 displays this in a complex, crisp and refreshing wine. Made of 90% Chardonnay with a hint of Pinot Gris, and 36 months of yeast aging in the bottle creating a wine filled with toasted almonds, creme brulee and warm brioche.
On a recent visit to Mumm Napa I tasted a magnum of their Brut Rose, side by side with the traditional 750ml bottle. The magnum was aged 6 years vs. 18 months for the 750ml, which was most evident in the light pink color and elegant aromas of rose petal, strawberry and toast, and available now for a special holiday discount if ordering directly through the winery.
Nina Franco Rustico Prosecco DOCG from the Veneto region of Italy is an elegant, creamy bubbly with light floral aromas and a fruit forward, vivacious palate. Prosecco is popping up on more and more bar menus lately, and some can be a little too fruity for the palate, but this one blends the fruit with creaminess nicely. A great aperitif, or starter wine with shellfish, salads or a risotto with green peas, asparagus and lots of Parmesan.
If you want the bubbly sensation, but just don’t go for sparkling wine, run to your local supermarket and pick up a bottle of 7Up Pomegranate Antioxidant soda. Only available through the holiday, I was surprised how much I liked this. The perfect cocktail to make is the Cheersicle with 6 oz Pomegranate 7Up and 1 oz vanilla vodka served over ice. Fruit forward soda that is surprisingly subtle in sweetness, nicely representing of the actual fruit flavor. And as soda goes, it is good for you!
If you are going to blow it out this year with a big bottle of bubbly, try the 2002 Piper-Heidsieck Pure. Vintage specific fruit from one of the oldest, yet forward thinking, Champagne houses in France. Elegant and interesting, a solid blend of classic Champagne gapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Hints of berry and fresh baked bread fill the palate with elegant flavors of sweet peach, melon and apple on the palate. It is not the least expensive thing you will find on the market, but it is definitely special.