NOW THAT the gifting part of the holidays is over, consumers can turn their attention to wine for New Year’s, and retailers are ready. Sales! Sales! Sales!
Whether you’re in need of authentic Champagne from France, Spain’s cava, Italy’s lighter-style Prosecco or a host of wonderful sparkling wines from around the U.S., wine shops and supermarkets have plenty to offer at bargain prices.
New statistics from the Wine Institute in California show that sales of sparkling wines in this country are up, with only a fraction of difference between wines made in the U.S. and those that are produced in foreign countries — the tilt going to domestic. It probably means more consumers have discovered how versatile and appealing a glass of dry or sweet bubbly can be. At fine restaurants, sommeliers have always resolved customers’ “what wine to order” dilemma with a bottle of dry bubbly no matter if the food is red meat or white.
The following choices are easy to find at Metro Detroit supermarkets and wine shops. I am listing the suggested retail price, but I promise you will find most of them on sale.
Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV, $22: This dandy dry sparkler is the flagship of Mumm Napa, the California arm of Champagne’s G.H. Mumm. It’s a favorite of wine retailers because of the quality-value relationship. It’s a dry, crisp blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a small complement of Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier. Some of the blend sees time in oak for more complexity. It hits all the right notes: crisp, good balance, refreshing flavors: citrus, apple with a kiss of honey and spice.
J Vineyards Russian River Valley Cuvee 20 NV Brut, $38: The bottle presentation is beautiful with the scripted “J” on the front — so perfect if there happens to be a Jim or Judy in the crowd. With intriguing aromas of lemon peel, lime zest, white flower and toasted almond, it’s stylish and crisp with a sensation of sweet, succulent fruit in the midpalate. It has good body to accompany food. It’s a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a splash of Pinot Meunier.
Campo Viejo Brut Reserva Cava NV $12.99: If your style of sparkler is dry and crisp, not too big and overpowering with the secondary fermentation happening in the bottle a la the French, then Spain’s cava is for you. This one is particularly clean and refreshing with edgy acidity. Alcohol is 11.5 percent. Aromas of lemon, honeysuckle, white stone fruit and almond.
Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV, $42.99: The only thing this classic French Champagne needs is some caviar and toast points to go with it. It’s subtle but powerful, made mostly from Pinot Noir — more than 100 crus from around the Champagne region — and Pinot Meunier. The fruit is juicy fresh pear and apple with a burst of starfruit. It’s serious and structured.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut NV, $22: Hard to go wrong with anything produced at this iconic Sonoma County winery. The emphasis is always on exuberant fruit as this one demonstrates. It’s has clean, lively flavors of pear, almond, toast, and apple woven with minerality and ends with a silky, rich finish. It’s 91 percent Pinot Noir filled out with Chardonnay.
Schramsberg Mirabelle NV Brut Rose California, $29: Fresh, elegant, toasty: This classic by Napa Valley’s pioneering sparkling wine producer brims with bright cherry, raspberry and ripe plum notes. It’s 64 percent Pinot Noir, 36 percent Chardonnay made from fruit grown in cool North Coast vineyards. It’s a favorite of wine critics.
La Marca Prosecco DOC, $17: Dressed up in the baby-blue label trimmed in silver, this is one of the hottest wines in the Prosecco category. So crisp, so elegant with just a touch of sweet fruit, it manages to please both experienced palates and occasional wine drinkers. The bubbles and acidity of the chilled wine mask that trace of sweetness.
Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry Sparkling Champagne California, $10: This surprising sparkler is off-dry, meaning it has a kiss of sweetness. It’s zesty, fruit-forward and palate cleansing with crisp tangerine, orange zest and yellow apple flavors.
M. Lawrence “Detroit” Demi Sec Sparkling Wine, $15: Of all Larry Mawby’s M. Lawrence wines, this one stands out for its tangy flavors — tangerine, lime, apricot. The sweetness is balanced by the juicy acidity. Mawby is Michigan’s premier sparkling wine producer.
Hillersden Legacy Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand 2015, $20: You don’t see many sparkling wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, but this one makes me wonder “why not?”. It has delightful tart-crisp flavors of gooseberry, white grapefruit and lime zest with an herbal flourish in the finish. It’s dry, medium-bodied, a pure dream to pair with food. Hillersden is the only single-vineyard brand in the Upper Wairau Valley of Marlborough. Depending on where you live, you might have to do some work to find it, but it’s readily available at wine shops in the Chicago area.
You can reach Sandra Silfven at firstname.lastname@example.org.