4 years ago

How to pick the perfect Champagne

Looking for something bubbly to celebrate the new year? Bill
Belkin, our Wines
& Spirits
category manager, has some great recommendations, no matter
what your budget!

that bubbles will diminish your holiday troubles…”

A wise man who loved Champagne
must have said that! But alas, not
everything that bubbles comes from that famous region in France
, and hence
cannot be called Champagne. A distinction without a difference?

Perhaps, but as we
all struggle to make ends meet (too much month at the end of the money?) we
must make decisions about bubbly beverages and perhaps the money issue is
amongst the best ways to decide.

Champagne, given its
careful blending, secondary fermentation in
the bottle
and unique terroir (the land, sun and other factors which
greatly contribute to its unique flavor and aromatic character) – well, that’s
going to start in the $30
range. The price goes up and up from there.  There’s nothing better,
end of sentence.

But all those French
Champagne houses own land and wineries in Napa, Sonoma and even Mendocino
counties. These wines made in the identical ways (method Champensoise) are
excellent choices, too. Roederer Estate in Mendocino is perhaps at the pinnacle
of these choices. However, Mumm Napa (G.H. Mumm), Domaine Carneros
(Taittinger) and Domaine Chandon (Moet & Chandon) are superb, too. Add
Gloria Ferrer, Schramsberg and J to the mix and a super fun blind taste test
becomes de riguer for the holidays.

For those who favor
more austerity and less mousse in their bubbles, look to Spain for their Cava,
a wonderfully economic choice. And don’t forget Cremant from France – but
not the Champagne region – features creamier body, more tip of the tongue fruit
and less numerous bubbles – an excellent value and a wonderful taste
experience. Try one from the Loire Valley!

And last but
certainly not least, there are two great choices from Italy. Their version of
Champagne is called Franciacorta. From Lombardy, this método classic is a great sparkler; and of course there’s the
“wine of the moment,” Prosecco from the Veneto region. Prosecco, just awarded
DOC status (Italy’s second highest status after DOCG) is made wholly from the
Glera grape. Although there are many Prosecco wannabes that contain other
grapes (such as the Sacchetto
Pinot Nero Rosato
) which are just fine. These wines are all tank
fermented and the secondary process takes place in tank also. Less complex
with smaller bubbles and lower alcohol, these wines cost under $12 in most

So you see, there is
really no excuse for sprucing up your holiday table and ringing in the New Year
without something that bubbles!  One more thing to consider: Traditional
French-style labeling is used on most sparkling wines. Wine
labeled brut – the most common type – is very dry. Extra
dry is actually slightly sweeter. Sec is medium
sweet, demi-sec is sweet and doux is very
sweet. Demi-sec and doux are best served as dessert wines or on
their own.

Our trained sales
staff at any of our Wines
& Spirits locations
will be happy to recommend a sparkling wine that suits
your taste and fits your bubble