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December 2015

5 Sparkling Wines That Won’t Break the Bank and Will Impress Your Peeps

Clinking-Champagne-Flutes-450x300The holidays are such an important time of year for friends and family to celebrate each other and ring in new intentions.  We all love sparkling wine to help us make this occasion special and there are so many choices out there.  French Champagne is the benchmark for quality, but you’re gonna end up paying a lot for it.  Sparkling wine takes more time and care to make, hence the higher price tag, so how can we impress our loved ones without breaking the bank?

Here are 5 sparkling wines that are delicious and might inspire you to buy more than one at that price!

Cantina Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara NV, Vecchia Modena, Italy $13.99 Retail

This is perhaps my most stunning find in 2015. I had no idea Lambrusco could be pink and crisp like a dry French rosé.  Most Lambruscos I’ve had are quite dark and rich in color –  drinking like a red wine with bubbles.   The oldest producer of Lambrusco in Emilia-Romagna dating back to 1860 has made a truly spectacular rosé for any price.  A beautiful strawberry pink color follows through with notes of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and potpurri on the nose. On the palate you’ll find perfectly ripe nectarine fruit and tangy dry finish. Pair it with cured meats.

Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV Brut, New Mexico $16.99 Retail

Made of mostly Pinot Noir with a little bit of Chardonnay this “white made from red” is my favorite value in the whole Gruet portfolio.   The winery has delivered on the quality/price ratio for almost 3 decades. You read the New Mexico part right!  Laurent Gruet followed his father Gilbert Gruet (Gruet et fils – Champagne, France) in search of affordable vineyards in America and landed in New Mexico in 1984 – noticing that at 4000 feet elevation those cool nights and long growing season had mad potential!  They became the first Albuquerque-based winery in 1989 – setting the stage for perhaps America’s best value sparkling wines. Nose of apples, buttered toast and vanilla. Lively bubbles with juicy raspberry on the mid palate and a cinnamon spice finish. This wine is so versatile, so you can pair it with many different options. I’d suggest a mushroom risotto or roasted chicken salad with toasted walnuts.

Allimant Laugner Cremant D’Alsace Rosé NV Brut – $18.99 retail

Alsace might be my favorite sparkling wine region in France outside of Champagne. This beautifully delicate bottle of bubbles is made of pinot noir and crafted by the same family since the 1500’s!   These bubbles have a sophiscation that tastes like it’s been perfected for 11 generations.  It is supple and seductively feminine with notes of strawberry fruit, blood orange, cherry blossom and chalky minerals. It’s light bubbles and creamy palate will make you wonder if there’s a hole in your glass!  I’d pair it with oysters and a blood orange gremolata or “Humbolt Fog”.

Roederer Estate NV Brut, Anderson Valley, California $19.99 Retail

Founded in 1982 by the Champagne Louis Roederer family, this sparkling wine continues to be the benchmark for Cali bubbles in both price and quality.  The estate is entirely biodyamically grown – lending to superior quality grapes and a real consciousness for the environment.   A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir is further refined by a minimum of 24 months on the lees and a small amount of oak aged reserve wines to create more complexity.  The nose is toasty, with notes of pear, apple and subtly salty. On the finish you’ll find notes of almond and baking spices. Perfect with Crab!

Ruventos i Blanc Macabeo / Xarello / Parellada 2012 Brut, Conca Del Riu Anoia, Spain $19.99 Retail

A blend of typical Cava grapes Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada.  This entirely biodynamically grown wine doesn’t call itself Cava (although it could) because of the controversies revolving around its disputed territory.  The wine is widely known in sommelier circles to be one the best made brut Cava’s in Spain.     18 months on the lees give it a Champagne-like complexity and toastiness while a tiny dosage during secondary fermentation makes it quite dry on the palate. The nose pops with bangin’ minerality, baked bread and tropical flavors like kiwi and guava. The palate keeps your mouth salivating with its long finish and zippy acid. Its toasty finish sends me into a frenzy for triple cream brie!

Be sure to let me know your thoughts!  Tell me what pairing you loved the best.