Did you know that New Year’s Eve is Sparkling Wine Day? What better day to celebrate all that bubbles than on the night when just about everyone all around the world makes a toast with a sparkling wine?
To get us in the mood, I’ve got some ideas for sparkling wines from around the world as well as foods to pair with them starting with Australia where it becomes 2017 first, then traveling west as the day flies by on to Italy, Spain, and France in Europe, then over to Chile in South America, and finally to the Finger Lakes and the Sonoma and Napa areas of North America.
Here in North America, we’re some of the last people on the planet to celebrate the New Year, while Australians are some of the first. So why not start our around the world tour with some bubbles from Down Under?
Yellow Tail Sparkling Rosé $6
Yellow Tail is ubiquitous in many people’s minds with Australian wine, and even more specifically, shiraz aka syrah. But I’ll tell you, there is a LOT more to Australian wine AND there are some really delicious sparkling shiraz coming out of Australia also.
However, Yellow Tail is an easy sparkler to find, and since I was sent a sample, I decided to include a discussion of it in this round up–with this caveat: just as Barefoot Bubbly doesn’t represent all of American sparkling wine, Yellow Tail doesn’t begin to represent the diversity of Australian wine available. In fact, I will never forget this Magella’s sparkling AUS shiraz that reminded us of flashing rubies.
But for the money, this sparkling rose provides copious bubbles, salmon color, and the plentiful strawberry fruit makes me think it would be a great base for sparkling wine cocktails. It’s not too sweet, but it’s not completely dry either. The bottle is festive and fun and clearly announces to the world what is inside. The closure took me a minute to figure out, but I was able to pour two glasses for my friend and I while we prepared dinner, and then put the cap back on and put it in the fridge for later. My friend (who is more of a beer drinker than a wine drinker) loved it.
This was a sample sent for my review consideration.
Franciacorta Cabochon – Monte Rosa- Brut – 2008 – 13% alcohol $45
If we are celebrating New Year’s Eve around the world, our next stop after Australia is ITALY, specifically Franciacorta.
Cabochon Monte Rosa Brut 2008 is not your mimosa wine. Please do not even consider making a wine cocktail with this beauty.
Easy to drink and enjoy, goes beautifully with food, delicate sea foam bubbles: this went down so quickly, we wept when it was gone!
On the nose, we found classic yeast or bready notes which translates with the fruit into a baked apple cinnamon pie with a nice crust. Not the sharp crisp granny apple type of apples, but rich baked apple and apricot with nutmeg and clove as well as cinnamon with marzipan in the finish. This sparkling wine of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Black Pinot flows smoothly and elegantly across the tongue with a bit of anise seed in the nose and back of the palate that reminds Sue of her Italian grandmother’s recipe for biscotti with anise seeds and almonds and baked yummy goodness– and you can get the recipe here.
On the palate, the mineral finish is powerful and very long lingering smooth, gentle. Everything about this wine is smooth and gentle. This is a very yeasty wine, and we wonder if part of that is because it is a vintage wine. Overall, this Franciacorta Cabochon Monte Rosa Brut 2008 is a very lovely, rare, special wine that would hold up to any occasion.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to taste a number of Franciacorta wine, most recently at a tasting in Santa Barbara at Les Marchands where these in particular stood out to me:
This was a sample sent for my review consideration. The tasting event at Las Marchands was free and open to the public.
Other bubbles to consider from Italy: Ferrari which is a traditional sparkling wine, Lambrusco which is a red effervescent wine that can be dry or sweet, or Prosecco which also ranges from drier to sweeter.
Next stop as we travel west is France. As you can tell from this blog post already, there is more to sparkling wine than Champagne from France. While it’s not wrong to equate sparkling wine with Champagne, that’s not the whole story. There is so much more to sparkling wine in the world than that which comes from Champagne France–even in France! Recently I wrote at length about French Fizz including three rose wines: one from Champagne, another Alsace, and a third from Burgundy. (There’s lots of menu ideas here too.)
The photo above depicts four sparkling wines from France: one from Champagne, one from Limux, one from Provence, and finally a PEAR sparkling wine! Read about a different Nicolas Feuillate here.
Saint-Hilaire 2014 Limoux Brut $13
My local wine haunt is the Ventura Wine Company, but whenever I am in the Mammoth Lakes area for skiing or camping, I do my best to swing by the Crowley Lake Store. Like The Ventura Wine Company, the owner of the Crowley Lake store used to be the beverage manager at Vons, and when he went into business for himself, he had contacts and inside information on wines, particularly regional or smaller wineries that he couldn’t carry at Vons. So when I saw this bottle of French Fizz for $13, I trusted the source and picked it up even though I didn’t know anything about the winery or the region of France where this wine comes from.
The striking label of the Saint-Hilaire 2014 Limoux Brut belies the price but does hint at the quality that lies within.
Color is pale golden straw with persistent bubbles rising steadily in the glass. The nose is faint, just a hint of almond croissant and baking soda. On the palate, I find golden delicious apple and pear baked in a pastry with toasted almonds. The finish is quick but clean.
This wine works well on its own but would also make a great base for sparkling wine cocktails.
These wines were purchased.
Segura Viudas Brut – Cava – 12% alcohol – $10.00
Heading west, we land in Spain. This simple, straightforward cava sparkling wine from Spain is a great buy for the price. The dressy, festive label makes it look like an expensive wine. You are supposed to be able to take out the center of the cork so that the bottle can be re-corked with the original cork, but we imagine most people would drink this in one setting..
Lots of crisp apple fruit and rambunctious bubbles would make this a good brunch wine, a good mimosa wine, a good party wine, a good mixer wine. On its own, it’s pretty on the table and looks special– just what you want for New Years Eve — a great looking bottle that won’t break the bank. Helen felt like this should be an $18.00 bottle of wine.
Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva – Cava – 12% alcohol $15.00
This sparkling wine from Spain is great to drink straight and very nice with food. Oysters and cold seafood appetizers should go great with this wine.
It offers a light crisp minerality, no bread or yeasty qualities which is what you’d expect from a cava. Asian pear in the nose with very soft fruit, this wine freshens the palate and prepares you for food or other beverages. Helen preferred the brut but Sue and I were impressed with the reserve especially since I have seen it on sale close to $10.
We paired these wines with a range of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches — which is perfect party food! You could do a grilled cheese bar and people could do their own or make a bunch ahead and cook them on the spot. Yum!
These were samples sent for my review consideration.
Valdivieso Blanc de Blancs NV, Leyda Valley: SRP $25.00
Next we head to South America, Chile to be exact. In October, I attended a winemaker lunch at Prime Beverly Hills. The emphasis was really on the red wines, particularly the Caballo Loco, but Viña Valdivieso started as a sparkling wine enterprise and is most well known for their sparkling wine, most of which doesn’t make it out of the country for us to enjoy. And I absolutely understand why! They are keeping it all to themselves!
In 1879 when Alberto Valdivieso founded Champagne Valdivieso, becoming the first to make sparkling wine in South America. A hundred years later, they began commercial production of still wines, and now they are working to get their wines known in the US with an emphasis on their red wines. But wow, I would definitely keep an eye out for the blanc de blancs: I loved the minerality and the complexity, vibrant fruit and floral notes galore. I even ordered one oyster so I could have it with the wine! More to come about this winery, and the winemaker too, as I left my notes at home and I am away on vacation. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for these wines!
Finally our journey takes us to the United States. From the east coast, you might try this sparkler from the Finger Lakes; read why here.
As we head further west, you’ll find sparkling wine being made all over the United States. But the most famous regions, of course, are Napa and Sonoma. Each year, Chandon makes a sparkling wine with a special holiday label; I wrote about it here.
Schramsberg – Mirabelle – Brut Rosé – 12.8% $20
If you say you only like French Champagne, give this sparkling wine from California a try because our first response was that it tastes French, in fact, it tastes like $25 to $50 French wine. With its yeasty nose, you could say it is done in a French style; it had 18 months of aging on the yeast. The main difference is the quality of the bubbles: they are not as light or as tiny.
A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from select cool-climate vineyards in the Carneros, the Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas of Northern California, the grapes are picked by hand, then pressed. In the spring following harvest, wines are blended and undergo second fermentation in the bottle which then rest in Schramsberg’s historic Diamond Mountain caves for approximately two years.
We love the very pretty coral pink in the glass as well as the nose on this wine; not only the yeast but delicate fruit and floral notes kept us coming back for more, again and again. On average you can get this wine online for around $20.00; we think it is worth every penny.
We paired this wine with seared ahi tuna salad, and the Mirabelle is just so crisp and light and wonderful with it. You will want to keep this in a chiller bucket as it is so much nicer at a very cold temp. We don’t always finish a bottle of wine when writing about it. But we really did like this wine. People don’t always think about sparkling wine when pairing with food. They think of it as a celebration wine, a toasting wine, and yes this wine is all that, however it went so well with the seared ahi salad. We just couldn’t stop drinking and eating and appreciating how well this wine went with our meal.
This would also be a great wine with ham or quiche, so think of it for those New Year’s brunches that follow New Years Eve! Or keep an eye out for it for Valentine’s Day or Easter brunch or dinner.
So there you go! Around the world for sparkling wine day and New Years Eve on four continents and seven countries! Cheers to you and to 2017!
What will be in your glass in the coming year? And what will I discover in mine?