Story by Dave Eckert
I don’t really need a special occasion to pop open a bottle of sparkling wine, but if you do, a couple of great ones are on the horizon. So, here, in advance of New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, I’ve provided a list of some of my favorite sparkling wines should you be in a bubbly mood to ring in the new year or celebrate with your sweetheart.
Of course, all sparkling wines are not created equal, so I’ve listed my choices by the region from which they emanate. Here’s hoping you add some bubbles to your life very soon.
I don’t believe there is a category of sparkling wine that has made more improvement in quality than Prosecco. Hailing from Northeastern Italy, Proseccos provide some of the best bang for the buck of any sparklers anywhere. Here are some of my personal favorites.
Gran Passione Prosecco DOC (SRP $14.99) ~ Made as a tribute to the Veneto region, this Prosecco is a celebration of history, tradition, and terroir, and it can all be found in the bottle. Made from the traditional Glera grape, the wine is crisp, dry, and elegant. Great on its own, the Gran Passione Prosecco is also terrific with lighter cuisine, especially hard cheeses such as Parmesan or Grana Padano.
Albino Armani Prosecco DOC (SRP $15.99) ~ Made from vineyards located in the Friuli region, this wine boasts a slight toastiness and refined elegance both on the nose and the palate. Delicate and creamy, the Albino Armani Prosecco works as an aperitif and also with lighter seafood course and vegetarian cuisine.
Valdo Marca Oro Bruit Prosecco (SRP $14.99) ~ I love all four Proseccos produced by Valdo, but here, I will recommend two. The first is this classic Brut Prosecco, which is classic in its pale straw color, its fruity nose, and its delicate, fresh palate. I would celebrate the arrival of the new year with a bottle or two of this anytime!
Valdo Prosecco DOCG Cuvee 1926 (SRP $23.99) ~ Climbing the ladder of elegance and complexity comes this beautiful bubbly-the Valdo Prosecco DOCG Cuvee 1926. Boasting aromas of rich, ripe fruit such as apple and pear, the wine also delves into more exotic fruit aromas and flavors such as banana and pineapple. Meant to be sipped and savored, the Cuvee 1926 provides the class of a great Champagne at a fraction of the price!
Martini & Rossi Sparkling Rose (SRP $14.99) ~ Although not technically a Prosecco, this lovely sparker made by longtime producer Martini & Rossi pays homage to the sparkling wines of The Veneto in general, and the wines of Prosecco specifically. Crafted from a variety of grapes, the wine possesses aromas and flavors of fresh stone fruit and roses. I have to admit I was surprised by the quality and elegance of this wine, which promises to be a real crowd pleaser.
Patterson Cellars, Sparkling Rose of Pinot Noir, Columbia Valley (SRP $42) ~ One of the best domestic sparkling wines I’ve had the opportunity to try, this sparkling rose from Patterson Cellars is the complete package. Rich and ripe flavors and aromas, the wine is intensely fruity, but also amazingly balanced. Try this beauty with a fruit-based dessert or how about a grilled Ahi tuna steak? Fleshy and flexible, this is a sparkler for all seasons and all occasions.
Domaine Ste. Michelle, Brut, Columbia Valley (SRP $13) ~ From the largest and best-known winery in the state comes this classic, approachable, and affordable sparkler. Brimming with bright citrus and green apple notes on the nose and the palate, the delicate mousse and elegant complexity of this bubbly belies its modest price tag. Simply delicious!
14 Hands Bubbles 6-Pack Cans (SRP $35.94) ~ How’s this for a party pleaser? The 14 Hands Bubbles 6-pack, which works out to three full bottles of bubbles, is not just a conversation starter, but a lively, lovely combination of citrus, stone fruit, and enticing bubbles. Sure to be the hit of any holiday party, or any party any time!
Drappier Carte d’Or (SRP $50) ~ Saving the best for last, you simply cannot go wrong with a well-crafted Champagne, and this Carte d’Or from Drappier is nothing if now well-crafted. A blend of 80-percent Pinot Noir, 15-percent Chardonnay, and 5-percent Pinot Meunier, the Carte d’Or is the calling card of the Drappier family, which has directed this Champagne house since 1808! Coming from vineyards planted in limestone soils, the Carte d’Or boasts Drappier’s classic minerality, along with a complexity and an elegance only a true Champagne can achieve. At $50, the wine clearly is not inexpensive, though I’ve had Champagne at twice the price that delivered half as much! I know what I’m opening on New Year’s Eve!