Many people think champagne and sparkling wines are just for the traditional November and December holidays. However, they can be appropriate all year long, as their ample acidity makes them very food-friendly. Below are some suggestions for sparkling wines to try throughout 2013. I’ve tried each one and recommend them wholeheartedly.
After the holidays, our belts and our wallets are feeling a bit tight, so it’s Ca’Furlan Prosecco Cuvée Beatrice ($10) to the rescue! It’s light, refreshing, and fruity, with lots of lemony citrus flavors. It’s also a nice sparkling wine to celebrate such Italian holidays as Capodanno (New Year), Epifania/La Befana (Epiphany, January 6), and Giornata Nazionale della Bandiera (Flag Day, January 7).
To celebrate with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, I suggest a color-appropriate, special sparkling wine. Domaine Carneros Vintage Brut Rosé ($36) fits the bill. The 2007 vintage is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, with a gorgeous, light pink/salmon color and loads of peach and strawberry flavors.
Eileen Crane, founding winemaker and president of Domaine Carneros, is known as “America’s Doyenne of Sparkling Wine,” so what better way to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8th) and Women’s History Month, than with Domaine Carneros Vérmeil Demi-Sec ($36)? It’s a lovely, semi-sweet sparkling wine, with dessert-like fruit flavors of lemon meringue, melon, and orange.
This is not an April Fools’ Day joke: According to Veraison Wine Brokers, in blind taste tests, tasters have often selected Jean-Luc Joillot Crémant de Bourgogne ($23) over well-known champagne brands. Made in the traditional method, it’s comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It also won’t break the bank during tax season, as it’s about half the price of champagne. It’s clean and crisp, yet creamy, with apple and citrus flavors.
In honor of May Day and Finger Lakes Wine Month, what could be more appropriate than Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc, Finger Lakes ($25)? The 2006 vintage is a dry, complex sparkling wine, made in the traditional method. It’s comprised of 100% Chardonnay grapes, with flavors of apple, pear, and toasted bread. The 2006 vintage is no longer available at the winery, but may be available from other retailers. The current release is the 2007 vintage.
June 21 is the Summer Solstice, so try Charmeroy Brut NV ($10-$13). It’s a lighter-style, French sparkling wine made with Ugni Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay grapes. It has crisp, refreshing flavors of apple, pear, and tropical fruits, perfect for summer celebrations and parties.
July 14 is Bastille Day, so Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Yellow Label ($40-$45) would be a great choice to celebrate this French national holiday. It’s a well-known, classic champagne, with complex flavors of almond, apple, citrus, peach, spices, and toasted bread. It’s comprised of three grapes, 50-55% Pinot Noir, 15-20% Pinot Meunier, and 28-33% Chardonnay, depending on the blend.
In honor of the 26th Anniversary Auction of Washington Wines from August 15-17 at Chateau Ste. Michelle, I suggest Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut NV ($10-$12). It’s a nice, quality-to-price, inexpensive sparkling wine produced with 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir grapes in the traditional method, with flavors of tart crabapple and zesty citrus.
To celebrate Labor Day, the Autumnal Equinox on September 22, and the beginning of harvest in Washington State, Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé ($10-$12) is the sister sparkling wine to the aforementioned Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut. It’s also wallet-friendly, yet delicious. It’s made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes, with a beautiful salmon hue and red berry flavors, such as strawberry and raspberry.
It’s Halloween and adults need sweets, too! Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Semi-Sweet ($12-$15) is a luscious, sweet sparkling wine made of 100% Mauzac grapes that starts with apple flavors and ends with flavors of key lime pie. You’ll have no reason to raid your child’s Halloween stash if you have this adult candy on hand.
Domaine Carneros Vintage Brut ($27), a classic, American sparkling wine, is the perfect celebratory wine for the Thanksgiving table. The 2008 vintage is comprised of 57% Pinot Noir and 43% Chardonnay grapes. The wine is very food-friendly and complex, with a creamy mouthfeel and flavors of apple, citrus, melon, and pear.
For December’s holiday celebrations, such as Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, Charles Gardet Brut Tradition Champagne ($53) is the perfect choice. The wine is comprised of 45% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, and 45% Pinot Meunier grapes. The predominately red grape blend yields a creamy, rich mouthfeel, with good acidity and flavors of stone fruits, hazelnut, and toasted bread.