Sommelier Picks: Splurge & Save Sparkling Wines
Nothing says “holiday festivities” like bubbly, but with so many options available, what’s the right bottle to choose? We turned to the experts: some of America’s top sommeliers, who not only recommend, but drink sparkling wine on a regular basis. Check out their selections below for sparklers both over and under $20, and you’ll be poppin’ bottles all season long, regardless of budget.
“The François Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Brut ($20) is made of 100 percent chenin blanc, a grape often thought of as the less-popular stepsister to queen riesling. This complicated grape is strong enough to show off its intensity through these bubbles with fierce minerality, organic sunflower honey, and citrus peel. My ultimate splurge is the Vouette et Sorbée ‘Saignee de Sorbée’ Extra Brut ($110), which is as unique and exceptional in the glass as the veracity of the vineyard work. Not a frilly, fruity sparkling rosé, but an impressive ten top finisher; powerful and complex, brilliant biodynamic farming shows through deep earthy complexity with earthy aromatics, charming cherry fruit and tremendous minerality.” — Isabella Fitzgerald (Gramercy Tavern)
“I would suggest the Gruet Brut ($15) as a save option because it’s intriguing and the winery is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is interesting since it’s crafted in the U.S. For a splurge option, I would select the Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne ($80) since it comes from a family-owned winery. It’s very elegant and great for any palate.” — Silvestre Fernandes (Patina)
“For a save option, the Val de Mer Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé ($20) is made by, in my opinion, the most promising new Chablis producer in Burgundy. This is produced under his second label, which affords the consumer the ability to taste his wines at a reasonable price. The wine has notes of wild strawberry and some great earthiness coming from the pinot noir. As a splurge, Chartogne-Taillet Brut ($38) is a fascinating and severely underpriced Champagne. The complexity found in this grower Champagne is both fantastic and incomparable. You will find notes of raw honey, wild flowers, and toasted brioche in the wine, and the mouthfeel will have you tipping the glass to your lips time and time again.” — John Dal Canton (Hibiscus)
“The M Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Rosé ($14) from the Languedoc is an excellent ‘save’ sparkler, tasting of crisp strawberry, peach, and blood orange, with a hint of honeysuckle. For a splurge, go for the Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($69); you’ll taste white peaches, citrus fruits, white flowers, and hints of toasty brioche.” — Kristin Irwin (Max’s Wine Dive)
“The Nino Franco Prosecco ($20) is very well-balanced considering the value, with notes of Honeycrisp apple and Bosc pear, and a lively acidity that makes it great as a pre-meal drink to whet the palate. While it's always tempting to go with Champagne for a "splurge," I have to go with a magnum of Bründlmayer Brut Rosé ($98) made from pinot noir, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt. First off, it's a beautiful food wine made dry with aromas of dark cherry, strawberry, hints of lime and wet stone. Second, it's a magnum, which will make it great for a holiday party.” — Christian Groon (Soif Restaurant & Wine Merchant)
“A fine option for an inexpensive sparkling wine is Avinyo ($14-18), a terrific family-owned producer of Cava. The flavors are crisp and clean and chock full of ripe tree fruits and white flowers. Avinyo packs amazing quality for the price, so it's easy to load up the cellar for an impromptu party with friends. If you want to really wow the guests at your house this year, grab yourself a bottle of Movia Puro Rosé ($43), a brilliant wine from Slovenia. Puro is not disgorged, meaning the yeast that makes the wine bubbly remains in the bottle, giving the wine the ability to develop for years in your cellar (if you can leave it that long).” — Aaron Sherman (Niche Food Group)