What To Drink Now: Bubbles for the New Year

As you bid farewell to 2012 and raise a glass to the excitement and unknown adventures sure to come in lucky 2013, do so with a tasty bubbly that will elevate your celebration on New Years or any day throughout the year.  If you are still looking for the ideal bottle to celebrate with on Monday, consider one of these sparklers from around the world.  Though not all are from Champagne, they are all made in the traditional method….a key component to look for in any bottle of bubbly.  A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

Domaine Chandon celebrates 40 years of making sparkling and still wine in Napa Valley in 2013. Help them celebrate their anniversary year with a bottle of their Reserve Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine.  Made from predominantly Chardonnay grapes grown on their Mount Veeder estate, sometimes with a touch of Pinot Noir added, and aged at least 3 years on the lees (with the yeasts) giving the wine layers of rich, creamy flavors with texture and character.  Toasted brioche and hazelnuts mingle with crisp golden apple, pear and a touch of honeysuckle for a luscious and lovely sparkler.

Ferrari Brut, from the largest family owned sparkling wine house in Italy where, in 1902, they were one of the first to plant Chardonnay grapes in the country to be used exclusively for their traditionally made sparkling wine. Crisp, light and lively with layers of white flowers, stone fruit and crisp citrus.  Easy drinking, balanced and refreshing without too much fruit-filled sweetness or too much acidity proving that Italians can stray outside the norm of the region, growing delicious Chardonnay grapes for delightful sparkling wine.

Another bubbly house has strayed from their norm to using traditional grapes for their traditional method sparkling wine is Freixenet with their Rose style Elyssia Cava made from 100% Pinot Noir.  Traditionally Rose Cava in Spain is made with Trepat, and though it has similar flavor nuances like bright strawberry and cherry, it is a bit bolder than the elegant Pinot Noir variety.  Using Spanish Pinot Noir grapes grown outside of Barcelona in the Penedes region of Spain, benefiting from the Mediterranean maritime climate with cool nights and warm days creates a vibrant, delicate wine that is incredibly special.  Fresh and elegant, a delicate bubbly filled with blackberry and raspberry with hints of spice and wild flowers.

I am a big fan of Segura Viudas, the sister company to Freixenet, making Methode Champenoise style Cava from estate grown grapes in the heart of Spain’s Cava region.  Their Brut Reserva is crisp, lively, easy to drink and often found at an incredible price especially with such beautiful and authentic quality.  Spec’s stores throughout Dallas have their Brut Reserva for less than $6 a bottle right now requiring me to go out and buy several cases just to have on hand, and shocking most people I serve it to as they would never guess something this good can be this inexpensive.

The Carneros region of Napa Valley is known for producing stellar Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.  Domaine Carneros, from Champagne House Tattinger, celebrates the quality of the fruit in the area by producing Champagne style sparklers in the heart of California wine country.  Domaine Carneros Brut Rose Cuvee de la Pompadour was created in honor of Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV who introduced Champagne to the royal court.  58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay, this sparkler is fruit forward and luscious with layers of strawberry, ripe raspberry and sweet spice notes, meant to be enjoyed while still young and fresh.

Another area known for producing stellar Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California is Russian River in Sonoma, benefiting from cool temperatures and maritime influences that balances acidity and freshness, especially in their Chardonnay offerings.  Biltmore Estate celebrates this influence in their Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise-Brut.  Filled with honey, white flowers, green apple and a touch of toasted hazelnut this small production sparkler, about 1,200 cases per year, is an excellent way to start or end an evening.

If you are looking for a true Champagne, Laurent-Perrier continues to be one of the best.  Celebrating their 200th anniversary the still family owned Champagne house has defined their house style as being delicate, elegant and approachable with refinement and class, a luxurious sparkler loved by generation after generation.  Their Laurent-Perrier Brut is very dry and toasty with flavors of warm brioche, hazelnut, stone fruit and a touch of fresh cream, lovely for any special occasion, like the start of an exciting new year.