Wine of the Week: It's Bubble Time!
Bubbles, bubbles everywhere, and lots of drops to drink
The holidays are upon us, and it's time for our favorite bubbly wines. I have mixed feelings about recommending these delightful wines at the end of the year. Truth is, they should be in every wine lover's refrigerator year-round, ready for the slightest celebration. Sparkling wines are made all over the world, but Spain, Italy, France, and the U.S. all make quality wines that are easy to find. Cava is generally the best value. The most readily available producers are Codorníu, Freixenet, and Segura Viudas. They all make excellent wines for less than $10, but the Cava to go for is Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad ($25), offered in a gorgeous bottle with a pewter base. It's one of Spain's best sparkling wines. Italy's Proseccos are made all over the country, and there are the occasional duds on the market. One that's dependably good is Adami's Prosecco Brut Garbèl ($14).
The U.S. market is dominated by Californian wines, and there are a number of great ones. I highly recommend the Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé ($35), but other American wines are nearly as good for much less. Try Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs ($13) or the pride of New Mexico, Chateau Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($14). The French invented Champagne, and they're still quite proud of the accomplishment. The term Champagne is the name of a place in France and is now protected, so Champagnes are supposedly from Champagne. Drinkable Champagnes usually start at $35 and go from there to more than $1,000 a bottle. Over the last decade, the hot type has been grower Champagnes – wines made by the person who grows the grapes. As opposed to most Champagne that's made by conglomerates that buy grapes from all over the region with the goal of producing a consistent wine year after year, growers prize their vintage-by-vintage differences. A good grower Champagne that's easy to find is Gaston Chiquet Brut Blanc de Blancs ($60). My all-time favorite from a larger producer is Bollinger's Special Cuvée ($50).