You know the situation: You run into the wine store at the very last minute, desperate to score a bottle of bubbly for your New Year’s Eve party. There’s an ocean of the stuff to choose from. How do you end up with a bottle that doesn’t break the bank or give you a roaring headache?
We recommend steering away from the Champagne aisle and trying these sparklers instead. All except the first are made in California. Cheers!
1. Maison Bertrand Ambroise Cremant de Bourgogne ($20): This Champagne-style sparkler from Burgundy mixes chardonnay and Pinot noir. Its floral and citrus nose introduces a rounded and supple taste with a long, fresh finish. Works well as an aperitif.
2. Domaine Carneros Estate Brut Cuvee ($33): Taittinger, the refined French label, owns this California winery, and it brings an Old World quality to an enjoyable sparkler from Napa’s Carneros region.
3. Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs ($19): Strawberry, cherry and subtle highlights of vanilla distinguish this popular sparkler, which can be found at restaurants throughout the western U.S.
4. J Brut Rose ($38): On the nose, fresh strawberries, raspberries, Fuji apple, rose and the bite of roasted hazelnuts. Its full, luxurious mouth feel is full of raspberry, blood orange and almonds. Strong backbone with steely mineral overtones.
5. Roederer Estate Brut ($24): This flagship from Roederer’s Anderson Valley operation is crisp and elegant, showing pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. Sprightly and fresh, with a long finish.
6. Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut ($24): From California’s north coast. Crisp acidity and vibrant green apple, citrus fruit and mid-body depth that only good Pinot can bring.
If it has to be Champagne, you can’t go wrong with this standby from the largest Champagne house in France, though it won’t get you any points for originality.
7. Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut ($45): Scents of apple, pear, yellow peach, honey and citrus flowers. The palate is full and complex, but it fades into a surprisingly delicate finish that’s crisp and clean.