Cheers to Bubbles for Every Budget!

by Robin Barr Sussman on December 19, 2019 in Food, Drink,
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Fizz the season for all things merry, bright and bubbly! From Champagne, France, to California, Oregon and Italy, we’ve rounded up tried and true sparklers in all price ranges from beloved regions and a few new discoveries. Check out the sparkling cocktail recipe below, perfect for the trendsetter. (You know who you are.) Happy 2020!

CHAMPAGNE

Photo courtesy Moet & Chandon

Nicolas Feuillatte, Champagne, France

Here’s a big bang for the buck with characteristics that channel some of the finest from the region. Terrific with sushi, fried chicken, cheese souffle or fruit tarts. Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More, Houston Wine Merchant. Blue label, about $25.

Basserat De Bellefon, Epernay, France

In the heart of the Champagne region, and a prestigious European brand for over 150 years, this well-established Champagne commands higher price points for its myriad notable varietals. “Solid and consistent” are words we hear from local sommeliers. $60-$80

Moet & Chandon, Champagne, France

This sophisticated Champagne house impresses from packaging to flavor. Of the wide variety of styles including the exclusive MC111 ($650 magnum for that VIP or very important party), Imperial Brut is the most approachable at about $35. Moet also makes mini bottles—think party favors to ring in the New Year ($15 each). Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More, The Austin Wine Merchant, many supermarkets.

CREMANT

Cheers to Cremant! Courtesy photo

Um, huh? Crémant is produced the exact same way as Champagne, sans the high sticker price. Grape varieties vary, depending on locality in France. Chenin blanc dominates crémant de Loire, while pinot noir and chardonnay form the backbone of Burgundy crémant. New Faire le Fete Cremant de Limoux NV ($19) flaunts a high quality to price ratio, lower sugar residual, and sustainable farming practices. Tangy and crisp, it pairs with almost any food. Buy it: Spec’s. Also notable: Beautifully rosy Lavert Freres Crémant de Bourgogne brut rosé ($17.99) available at Total Wine & More and Spec’s.

CAVA

For delightfully affordable Spanish bubbles, uncork refreshing Segura Viudas NV brut reserva cava ($10 at Spec’s and many supermarkets) or the red fruit-forward Camino Calixo rosé—a great pick for New Year’s Day brunch (about $13, Whole Foods Market). Fruity, clean with white stone-fruit aromas, Marques de Monistrol brut cava ($10.99, Total Wine & More) is another steal and packaged in a bright yellow floral bottle. Drink straight up or blend into a sparkling wine cocktail.

PROSECCO & OTHER ITALIAN GEMS

Photo courtesy Chloe Collection

Chloe Collection Prosecco ($12 at Total Wine & More) is elegant, bursting with Granny Smith apple, white guava and tangerine notes. Franciacorta, one of Italy’s best kept sparkling wine secrets, is produced using the ‘traditional method’ – like Champagne – but costs a lot less. Snag toasty, rich Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta (about $24, Spec’s and Houston Wine Merchant). Similarly, Ferrari, one of Italy’s oldest, most reliable brands, puts on a show for under $40 (Spec’s) packaged in a sleek Italian designed Chill Box. The terrific Trentodoc chardonnay brut chill box is your secret weapon hostess gift, and keeps a bottle chilled for hours!

OREGON

Photo courtesy A to Z Wineworks

A to Z Wineworks produces a vibrant pinot noir-focused rosé sparkler made with organically grown grapes. The fun retro bottle design and pop-top closure make this party-perfect. ($18, Total Wine & More)

CALIFORNIA

Photo courtesy Domaine Carneros

Mumm Napa, Napa Valley

Brut Prestige, crisp and complex with aromas of apple and ginger and flavors of raspberry and spice, and Brut Reserve are solid choices to consider. Brut Prestige is about $15 at Spec’s, Total Wine & More, most supermarkets.

Domaine Carneros, Carneros

Of the many lovely tiers to choose in this portfolio, the tongue-tingling dry brut combined with fruit forward chardonnay and pinot grapes is best for groups. About $25 at Spec’s, Total Wine & More, Houston Wine Merchant.

Chandon, Napa Valley

The first French-owned California sparkling wine company produces a huge and impressive array including reserves, vintage, magnums, minis and yearly artsy limited editions. Easy to get in on the fun! Brut Classic is about $16 at Spec’s, Total Wine & More, most supermarkets.

Sterling Napa Valley Sparkling Blanc de Blancs

Aromas of green apple, lemon citrus, pear and lemon cream offer fresh fruit-forward flavors, zippy acidity and a creamy finish. Made from 100% chardonnay and gorgeously effervescent, its striking silver bottle will grab everyone’s attention. ($20 at Spec’s, Total Wine & More, Kroger)

Korbel Natural

A winner in the cheap and cheerful category ($14), find it at Total Wine & More and Spec’s. We’ll toast to that.

NEW YEAR’S EVE COCKTAIL RECIPE

Jardesca Holiday Spritz

(Yield: 1 serving)

The Jardesca Holiday Spritz. Courtesy photo

Jardesca is a deliciously unique new California Aperitiva wine infused with garden botanicals crafted in red and white styles. It’s great served on its own over ice or made into a festive cocktail. Look for more invigorating recipes on the beautiful website. Cheers!

INGREDIENTS

3 ounces Jardesca White Aperitiva

2 ounces Prosecco or sparkling wine

1 small spoonful Pomegranate syrup (or grenadine)

Garnish: Pomegranate seeds and sprig of rosemary

METHOD

Add ice to one cocktail glass. Pour in remaining ingredients and garnish.


Cover photo courtesy Chloe Collection

Robin Barr Sussman (rbs@pdq.net) is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.

 

 

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