As we approach New Year’s Eve, I like to post a summary of our favorite Sparkling Wines and Champagnes. This year we had many winners! There is a style and price point that will work for all readers. These are all very good options that we are sure that you and your guests will all enjoy!
My first suggestion is the only 92 point wine. The non-vintage Gosset “Grand Blanc de Blanc” for $100 opens with lots of little fine bubbles that dissipate quickly. It displays a mild bread dough bouquet with a hint of green apple. On the palate, its flavor profile is a chalky mineral infused lime with hints of white pepper and a touch of Anjou pear. This is a classic French Champagne and it is very good friendly. I would suggest pairing it with bacon wrapped scallops.
At the 91 point level we have seven offerings. We will start with the non-vintage J Vineyards “Cuvee 20” Sparkling Wine from Sonoma County. At $28 this sparkler is a steal. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, slightly acidic and lively. We loved its mineral infused green apple flavors with notes of lemon. I also detected a hint of white pepper and touch of pineapple. This sparkler was a crowd pleaser and would be a great opening wine at your New Year’s Eve party. With 30,000 cases made it should be very easy to find.
The 2009 Schramsberg “Blanc de Noirs” for $40 was well received by our mini-tasting group. It has lots of medium bubbles and opens with a mild apple bouquet with a hint of lemon. On the palate, this wine is light bodied, slightly acidic and easy to drink. We found the flavor profile to be a mineral infused Anjou pear and bread dough with hints of tart lemon. This sparkler would be best, served as an aperitif.
The non-vintage Perrier Jouet “Grand Brut” Champagne for $45 opens with a stream of fine bubbles and a gentle strawberry and pear bouquet. It is medium bodied, balanced and very easy to drink. The flavor profile is a mild mineral infused green apple with hints of light lemon and bread dough. It finishes dry and its flavors drift away nicely. This Champagne would be a perfect New Year’s Eve offering. Serve it with chicken satay!
The non-vintage Nicolas Feuillatte “Brut Rose” Champagne for $52 opens with a bouquet of wild flowers complemented by fresh Bing cherries, pink grapefruit, and hints of currant. It is medium bodied and has an elegance that has always been the motto of Feuillatte Champagnes. It displays berry fruits (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and currant) that intermingle with a caramelized cream note, which is followed by a hint of toast, and finished by the distinct touch of age that is present as roasted nuts. All of these flavors linger for what feels like is forever.
These three high end offerings also scored 91 points. The 2002 Nicolas Feuillatte “Palmes d’Or” for $139 is a classic styled Champagne and tied for first place in our first big blind tasting of sparklers. It opens with a mild dough like bouquet with hints of honey and candied apricots. On the palate, it is light bodied, balanced, and savory. The flavor profile is honey with hints of Anjou pear, toast, and Key lime. The panel suggested pairing this gem with scallop ceviche or caviar with toast points.
The 2006 Perrier Jouet “Belle Epoque” Champagne for $150 was our other first place finisher in our first big blind tasting. This offering opens with a mild dough like bouquet with a hint of apple and almond. It is light bodied, balanced, and elegant. Its flavor profile is a mild bread dough with hints of minerality and a touch of grapefruit and apple. The panel felt this Champagne was perfect for food or your anniversary dinner. They suggested pairing it with swordfish or oysters.
Our final 91 pointer is the 2003 Gosset “Celebris Rose Extra Brut” Champagne for $202. This salmon colored Champagne with many tiny bubbles was very well received by our mini-tasting group. It opens with a fragrant bread dough and strawberry bouquet. It is light bodied, acidic and crisp. The flavor profile is a mineral infused red apple with hints of bread dough, strawberry and a touch of plum. Our group felt this Champagne was a perfect match for shrimp cocktail.
The next several Sparklers and Champagnes all scored 90 points. Each one would be a terrific New Year’s Eve option. You will find a majority of these to be quite affordable.
Helfrich NV “Cremant d’Alsace Brut” (Alsace, FR) $20 (90)
This sparkler made from 100% Pinot Blanc displays tiny refined bubbles and opens with a bread dough like bouquet with a hint of mild apple and honey. It is light bodied, smooth, and elegant with mild acidity. Its flavor profile is a mineral infused mild green apple and pear with a hint of lemon.
Mumm Napa NV “Brut Prestige” (Napa Valley, CA) $22 (90)
This sparkling wine from Napa is medium bodied and has always been a great alternative to Champagne. It provided nice balance. The creaminess and ripe fruits of this sparkler are perfectly balanced with the acidity and big bubbles, leaving you refreshed and intrigued.
Roederer NV “Brut” (Anderson Valley, CA) $23 (90)
This sparkler displays lots of bubbles and opens with a doughy bouquet with hints of apple and twig. On the palate, this wine is light bodied, bubbly and displays plenty of acidity. Its flavor profile is a mineral infused tart green apple with notes of tangerine. The panel suggested pairing this wine with cherrystones and sushi.
Roederer Estate NV “Brut Rose” (Anderson Valley, CA) $28 (90)
This light copper colored sparkler opens with a mild walnut and gentle strawberry bouquet with a hint of dough. It is bubbly, acidic and lively with strawberry flavors with hints of walnut, dough, orange, and red cherry towards the end. The panel suggested pairing this very nice sparkler with Legal’s popcorn shrimp.
Gloria Ferrer 2007 “Blanc de Blancs” (Carneros, CA) $28 (90)
This Blanc de Blanc opens with a fragrant ripe pear and honey bouquet with a hint of candle wax. It is light bodied, slightly acidic and lively. Its flavor profile is a mineral infused green apple with notes lemon-lime and a hint of white pepper. This sparkler would be a good aperitif with bacon wrapped scallops.
Schramsberg 2010 “Blanc de Blanc” (North Coast, CA) $38 (90)
This sparkler showed very well for the panel. While it does not have many bubbles, it opens with a faint apple and lemon like bouquet. It is medium bodied, bubbly and balanced with mild apple flavors and notes of grapefruit, key lime, and orange throughout. Panel members suggested serving it with grilled swordfish kabobs or grilled tuna.
J Vineyards NV “Brut Rose” (Russian River Valley, CA) $38 (90)
This Brut Rose from J Vineyards opens with a strawberry, cream and toast like bouquet. You will find this sparkler to be full bodied and display a plethora of fruits that range from your everyday red delicious apple to the more exotic blood orange. It is crisp, clean, and concise with upfront fruits that lead to a creaminess.
Louis Roederer NV “Brut Premier” (Champagne, FR) $49 (90)
This Champagne from Louis Roederer is always in on our recommended list. It displays very quick tiny bubbles. It is medium bodied, slightly acidic and mouthwatering. The panel enjoyed its mild green apple and pecan flavors with hints of tangerine and cantaloupe. Most of the panel felt this Champagne could be served on its own.
Nicolas Feuillatte 2005 “Cuvee Speciale” (Champagne, FR) $75 (90)
This premium Champagne displays very tiny bubbles. It is medium bodied, balanced, and elegant. The flavor profile is a gentle light lime with hints of minerality, dough, and touch of green apple. The panel suggested that this Champagne would be perfect with Coquilles St. Jacques or stuffed mushrooms.
Below is a list of all our very good high eighty point offerings. Their scoring range is from 89 points down to a Good 86 point offering from Germany. You can find some of the most affordable offerings in this grouping.
Gloria Ferrer NV “Blanc de Noirs” (Carneros, CA) $24 (89)
Gloria Ferrar 2005 “Royal Cuvee” (Carneros, CA) $32 (89)
Schramsberg 2009 “Brut Rose” (North Coast, CA) $43 (89)
Nicolas Feuillatte 2005 “Brut Chardonnay” (Champagne, FR) $47 (89)
Gosset NV “Brut Excellence” (Champagne, FR) $47 (89)
Delamotte NV “Brut” (Champagne, FR) $50 (89)
Delamotte NV “Blanc de Blancs” (Champagne, FR) $65 (89)
Gosset 2000 “Grand Millesime Brut” (Champagne, FR) $90 (89)
Mionetto NV “Prosecco Organic” (Veneto, IT) $14 (88)
Villa Sandi NV “Valdobbiadene Extra Dry” (Veneto, IT) $17 (88)
Laeticia NV “Brut Cuvee” (Arroyo Grande, CA) $25 (88)
Laetitia 2009 “Brut Rose” (Arroyo Grande, CA) $30 (88)
Veuve Clicquot NV “Brut” (Champagne, FR) $49 (88)
Mionetto NV “Prosecco Brut Treviso” (Veneto, IT) $15 (87)
Zardetto NV “Z Prosecco Brut” (Veneto, IT) $16 (87)
La Marca NV “Prosecco Extra Dry” (Veneto, IT) $17 (87)
Henkell NV “Blanc de Blancs Dry Sec” (Germany) $10 (86)
We hope your enjoy these Sparkling Wines and Champagnes as much as we did. We are confident you will. We also have an announcement to make. We would like to introduce Nicolay Castro as our new Chief Bubblehead! Nicolay works for Colonial Spirits in Acton, MA. He is their New World Wine Director. That said he loves his Champagne. He is the perfect person for the job. Nicolay will oversee all of our Champagne and Sparkling Wine reviews throughout the year. He will also head our big blind tasting in the fall. We look forward to Nicolay overseeing this very important category. Cheers! Ken
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