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Saturday, November 12, 2016

ABC---Anything But Champagne

                          Why not step out of the box and try some other terrific sparkling wines?

The holidaze are around the corner and in our house that means lots of bubbly.  We like to keep a variety of sparkling wine from around the world in our cellar for many reasons.  First and foremost, it’s all about quality-price ratio.  Most of the Champagnes we like are $50 - $100 per bottle.  There are a plethora of well-crafted sparklers out there for considerably less.  Second, the quality of the bubbles discussed below will surprise you.

The first bubbly may shock you.  It’s from England.  Nyetimber's sparkling wine sent shock waves throughout the wine world when it beat out many Champagnes in blind tastings.  (Remember, that Southern England is roughly the same latitude as the Champagne district).   Nyetimber (from West Sussex) even beat out fancy Grand Crus such as Billecart Salmon, which is one of my perennial faves. $50

The second sparkler is French.  It can’t be called Champagne as it is not produced in the Champagne district.   But, it is produced just across the border in Burgundy.  Cremant de Bourgogne is a good alternative for >50% less.  Try Domaine Charles Bauer for one of the best renditions.  $30

Having recently returned from Spain, I am smitten with Cava.  This sparkler is produced in the same labor-intensive matter as Champagne, must strict E.U. laws dictate that nothing on its label references Champagne.  We had some killer bottles of Cava that could wreak havoc on its French counterpart in a blind tasting.  Try Castell d’Age Aurelia Gran Reserva, a steal for $20.

If you want a knock-your-socks off bubbly that could seriously compete with the real deal Champagnes (and are willing to pay for it) then look no further than Italy’s Franciacorta wine district near Verona.  Ca Del Bosco produces earth-shaking sparkling wines in the $50-$80 range.  Ferghettina (from the same area) is also a jewel that shouldn’t be missed (and I love the shape of their bottle).  $40-50

Moving a little closer to home, the next bubbly is American….but it’s from a state that may shock you:  New Mexico!  No, I’ve not lost my mind.  This Champagne knock-off has also won lots of awards and would warrant a spot in an “ABC Blind Tasting.”  Gruet is the producer.  $30

Last, but not least, California’s Roederer is also one of my favorites.  Owned by a French Champagne producer, this American cousin is a terrific buy.  There's more good's readily available.  $20

Maybe an ABC tasting might be a fun way to celebrate the holidays?   Have fun learning your alphabet!

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