There is a sparkling wine for every occasion. Here is a list of sparkling wines that I have tried over the last 12 months for you to enjoy in the New Year. The prices range from $300 for a Rose Champagne to $18 for Prosecco, and everything in between.
Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina (Campania) Donna Chiara. The soil is chalky clay. There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, owner of the winery, always refers to the vinification system used as the Martinotti method. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.) Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it is fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It is great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $20Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). Other good producers are Bisol, Mionetto and Bocelli $18
Franciacorta Gran Cuveé Saten Brut Bellavista, a special cuvee made from 100% Chardonnay selected from the best vineyard. It is made in the cremant style resulting in lower CO2 pressure, the defining feature of all Saten wines. It is produced in limited quantities using old small barrels as was once done in the past. Saten is a blanc de blancs and can be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco up to 50% $50Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore 2001 Ferrari 100% Chardonnay This is a single vineyard reserve aged wine. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza, a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family who also own the winery. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. They use selected yeasts from their own cultures. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees. They do not make this wine in every vintage. The first vintage was 1972. This may be the best Method Classico made in Italy.
Ferrari Perlé 2006 Brut, Method Classico, DOC Trento, Italy Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family (owners of Ferrari) around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast. It is showing very well and in my opinion a bargain at $38.Perrier Jouët Cuvee Belle Epoque Rosé 2004. After vinification the wine is preserved separately, cru by cru, until blending. Chardonnay from the Grand Cruz Cramant and Avize dominate the blend. The Pinot Noir comes from the Grand Crus Marlly and Verze. Still red wine makes up 9% of the blend. The wine is aged for 6 years before release. This is the most expensive wine and in my opinion may be worth the money. It is an elegant full-bodied wine with great fruit and hints of strawberries and raspberries and a lot more going on. $300
Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2007 NV 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage, there is no malolactic fermentation. The sangée method is used following skin contact, which lasts 5 to 8 days in the liquid phase. The wine ages for an average of 4 years in the cellar and another 6 months resting after disgorging to complete its maturity. Dosage varies between 8 to 10 g/l depending on the vintage. There are citrus aromas and hints of strawberry and peach. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and I was told that it was typical of the Roederer Rose. $65
Champagne “Grand Siècle” Crand Cuvèe NV Laurent-Perrier (Trous-sur Marne) made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. 12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. I believe this is a blend of three different vintages. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.
Pol Roger Rosé is based on their Brut Vintage, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay to which is added before bottling and second fermentation about 15% still red wine (Pinot Noir) from the best crus of the Montagne de Remis. Dosage 9g/L. The wine is aged 7 years in the cellar before release. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with hints of blood oranges and red fruit berries. $110
Paul Roger Cuvée “Sir Winston Churchill” 1999 Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston Churchill mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. The exact blend is a closely guarded family secret. It is a blend of Pinot Noir, which dominates, and Chardonnay. Composed exclusively of grapes sourced from Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, which were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime.
The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second, a débourbage à froid, takes place in stainless steel tanks at 6°C over a 24 hour period. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks kept to temperatures not exceeding 18°C, with each variety and each village kept separate until final blending. The wine undergoes a full malolactic fermentation. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C in the lowest Pol Roger cellars (33 meters below street level) where the wine is kept until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne nowadays. The very fine and
persistent mousse for which Pol Roger is renowned owes much to these deep, cool and damp cellars. $200
Asti DOCG (formally know as Asti Spumante) is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli. It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh. From $14 to $20. Producers include Bera, Gancia, Cinzano, and Martini and Rossi.
Some producers also make a Metodo Classico.
Moscato D’Asti DOCG is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG. From $15 t0 $20
Producers: Michele Chiarlo, Fontanafredda, Elio Perrone, La Spinetta and ViettiBrachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts.
Producers include Braida $30 and Banfi-Rosa Regale $20