Weekend Wine: Countdown to the Holidays
New Year’s floats in on a cloud of bubbles!
By Wes Marshall,
7:16AM, Fri. Dec. 28, 2018
Hopefully, regular readers will have picked up on the importance most wine aficionados place on the delights of sparkling wines. These delicious and work-intensive wines deserve our attention year round, not just at holidays.
Unfortunately, the price ranges of sparkling wines (from under $5 to over $1,000 per bottle) scare off beginners. Even worse is everyone’s shared horror stories of cheap wedding wine that leads with a blistering headache and ends with a rapid run to the bathroom. Why would anyone miss an opportunity to relive that experience? It's really only the folks who are willing to trade a few extra sheckles for a lot of pain who need to drink the cheap stuff.
Segura Viudas Rosé ($8) is the least expensive sparkling wine that I can whole-heartedly recommend. It is a Spanish Cava with fine bubbles and a huge, fruity aroma. We love it with lamb dishes like a roasted leg. If you can spend a bit more, Gruet’s Blanc de Noir ($16) will repay your investment with one of America’s best wines. It is balanced to have profile much like a Champagne which makes the low price even more attractive. If you want to buy American but want to hew even closer to the crispness of the French ideal, search out Domaine Carneros by Tattinger ($35).
That effectively moves us into Champagne pricing. French versions of sparkling wine feature tiny bubbles along with subtle hints of toast, wet stones, and green apples. A perfect step up from the Carneros is Henriot’s Brut ($45), a lovely, lively wine that works beautifully as an aperitif. Ruinart’s Blanc de Blanc ($83) may seem like a lot of money, but once you taste it, you’ll realize it's a bargain at this price. This is one of the few wines I’ve experienced that will get a group of Master sommeliers running to the pourer each time a cork is popped. For those who prefer rosés, Laurent Perrier’s Rosé ($89) is fully competitive with wines that cost twice as much.