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The Values of Sparkling Wine

BynW Peter Hoyne

The American consumer has an obsession and unquenchable thirst for sparkling wines. Pour a glass bubbly during any occasion and watch the volume deplete as those who rarely indulge, reach for a glass. No one wants to be left out of a celebration as the allure of this luminous beverage implies a sense of elegance and luxury. 

According to Shanken News “sparkling wine is booming in all forms in the U.S. and Champagne-the most prestigious producer of all-is no exception.” Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon account for 65% of the total domestic consumption of Champagne. The market research also reveals that there is an affinity for rose´ Champagne and not just during the holidays, but year around. Millennials make up 36% of the Champagne drinkers followed by baby boomers.  Sparkling wine as a category is expected to grow by 3.8% this year.

Let’s not discount other sparklers such as Prosecco, California and Oregon sparklers, German Sekt’s, Spanish Cavas and sparkling wine from the Loire Valley of France. Prosecco is produced in northeastern Italy and has been garnering a strong following for years given its affordability and clean, fresh style. There is a wealth of irresistible sparklers crafted from all types of grape varietals and they are available at very favorable price points.  Explore your options as it soon will be time to ring in the New Year. Afterwards, think beyond the holidays in celebrating life, good fortune and friendships with a glass in handListed are some of the top values below the $40.00 price point:

Champagne Laurent-Perrier

The House of Laurent-Perrier was founded in 1812 by Andre Michel Pierlot. He took the name Vve Laurent-Perrier when Mathilde Emilie Perrier, the widow of Eugene Laurent, combined the two family names after she decided to expand the business.  Eugenie Hortense Laurent, her daughter, inherited the House in 1925 and sold it to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939.

With four years on the lees, it is 55% Chardonnay with the rest Pinot Noir and Meunier. This pale gold color bubbly opens with brioche, cooked apple on the nose; creamy, lemon zest flavor, with fresh bright acidity and a clean sensation on a finish that is refined and elegant.  A great wine to start a dinner party.  By Perry Miroballi

J Vineyards Cuvée 20 Brut

J Vineyards & Winery is situated within the Russian River Valley of Sonoma. The winery was established in 1986 by Judy Jordan, 14 years after her father, Tom Jordan launched his successful Cabernet Sauvignon project with Jordan Winery. Judy’s is passionate about making traditional styled sparkling wines within the cool reaches of Russian River Valley.

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She earned her reputation with premium sparkling wines before expanding her horizons into single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from this region. Lead winemaker Nicole Hitchcock “fuses Old World techniques with a New World flair” in crafting these wines.

This wine can be defined by its finesse and gracefulness across the palate. There are very fine bubbles with warm bread aromas, spiced pears and Honeycrisp apples along with a touch of minerality.  Always a consistent effort by this producer.

2016 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs

In 1965 Jack and Jamie Davies transformed this abandoned hillside winery into what has become an iconic symbol of sparkling wine in California. Originally founded by Jacob Schram in 1862, the Davies restored this historic landmark with a vision of making premium méthode champenoise” style wines in California. From the heralded 2016 vintage, this sparkling wine is crafted from 100% Chardonnay sourced from North Coast vineyards and aged on the yeast for 2 years in the bottle.

The accolades are well deserved and consistent with Schramsberg. I am always impressed with these finely-tuned sparklers as they remind me of a classic French cuvée.  This sparkler has subtle aromas of freshly baked bread. It is pale yellow with notes of lemon meringue, ginger and hazelnut that are elegantly wrapped together.  There is a lovely purity and definition in all of their sparkling wines.

Roederer Estate Brut

Founded in 1981, Roederer Estate 600 acres of vineyards is nestled in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley.  As the California property of Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate builds upon 2 centuries of fine winemaking that has made Roederer Champagne among the most sought after in the world. 

This is most always my go to sparkler, often in place of higher priced bubbles from France. It is as good as it gets from a California sparkling wine and always is a crowd pleaser.  As our neighbor Michelle H puts it at a recent gathering…the hello is bright with tight lemon citrus that hangs around like a well-liked neighbor.  Blended from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it is medium straw color, pretty aromas of ripe apples, strawberry blossom; with complex flavors of ripe apple, lemon cream and a hint of hazelnut, medium bodied, delicately layered on the palate that is balanced; medium finish with dry and fine acidity.

By Perry Miroballi

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