BUBBLES ARE APPROPRIATE FOR ANY OCCASION

Although sparkling wine is appropriate for any occasion, certainly the holidays are the prime time. Lucky for us effervescent wine is so popular there are versions made in virtually every wine region. Consider drinking them throughout your meals in addition to celebratory toasts.

Champagne sets the standard and nonvintage Brut is the most widely enjoyed style, partly because it is the most affordable and represents the signature style of a Champagne house. A really good choice I just discovered is Champagne Palmer. New to the U.S., it was founded as a cooperative in 1947. Its wines are distinguished by use of a high proportion of reserve wine (older wines added to the cuvée to achieve a deeper, richer style).

 

Palmer’s Brut Réserve ($52) – 50% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir and 10% pinot meunier – is aged sur lie for over four years and includes 30% reserve wine, from a 25 year old solera (a blending method typically used for sherry). It is full and rich with pear, apple and citrus, with notes of hazelnut and a slight toastiness. The Rosé Réserve ($65) – 49% pinot noir, 42% chardonnay and 9% pinot meunier – blends red wine from a 30 year old solera. It’s brisk and structured with luscious nuances of strawberries and currants, vanilla and spice.

Also from France, Crémant d’Alsace is an affordable alternative. Made using the Champagne method, the 100% pinot noir Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé ($22) offers a crisp, fruit emphasized taste of strawberry with finesse and a nice measure of complexity.

From Italy, there also is outstanding “metodo classico” bubbly made in the Trentino region near Lake Garda. One of the finest choices is Ferrari whose Rosé Trento ($37) uses pinot nero and chardonnay to craft elegance and structure with fresh, fruity strawberries, red currants, and elements of almond.

 

Prosecco from the Veneto hills, with its fresh, frothy flavors has achieved popularity in the U.S. in recent years. Made using the native glera grape, it is produced using the Charmat Method (bubbles from second fermentation in pressurized tanks). Affordable and eminently drinkable, it is a versatile for many occasions.


Adami, a family owned winery in the Valdobbiadene area since 1920, produces benchmark Prosecco bursting with peach and citrus. “Garbel” Brut ($15) is fuller; “Bosco di Gica” Brut ($18) is most lively; “Dei Casel” Extra Dry ($18) is succulent and minerally; 2015 “Col Credas” Brut ($22), is focused and intense.

Other fine producers include Bisol – Jeio Brut ($15) fresh apple, apricot and citrus, Mionetto Brut Treviso ($15) – floral and intense, and Valdo Brut “Oro Puro” ($21) fresh, lively and full.

Also look for the Jeio Cuvée Rosé ($14) – merlot and pinot nero – balances freshness and bright red berries with a hint of mineral, and Mionetto Prestige Gran Rosé ($28 magnum), fresh and fruity with currant and pomegranate.


I can’t wrap this report without at least one California bubbly. Frank Family Vineyards in Napa Valley is highly regarded for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Zinfandel but also produces small amounts of fine sparkling wine. The 2012 Brut Rosé ($55) is 100% pinot noir from the estate Lewis Vineyard in Carneros.

 

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.