This post comes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma associate Steven Lauer.
I think Don Ho was onto something when he sang “Tiny Bubbles.”
Tiny bubbles . . . In the wine . . . Make me happy . . . Make me feel fine . . .
Sorry that the song is stuck in your head, but now I’ve set the mood to discuss sparkling wine! The truth is, Champagne can put the festive party hat on any occasion, be it the obvious, like a wedding, or the not-so-unique, such as a visit with some friends on your patio.
What follows are my top three not-going-to-break-the-bank, but darn-good sparklers that will make an impression at both the fancy-dress party and the casual gathering on your back deck.
|Domaine Carneros Brut CuvéeMy No. 1 pick is the highly rated but inexpensively priced and readily available Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvée. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this bubbly will delight the upper crust as well as the regular Joes and Janes in your life.
Why is it so good? First, it’s a vintage wine . . . this means that the grapes were from a single year and not blended with other wine. Also, the folks at Domaine Carneros make their wine in the Carneros region of Napa County in the classic manner called “méthode champenoise.” With this traditional method, the bubbles that are tiny and make us all so happy are produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle. Whereas, a lot of the “cheap stuff” has much larger bubbles (this is a bad thing) because the wine is actually injected with CO2!
|Mumm Napa Brut PrestigeThe Mumm Brut Prestige is my back-up wine to my top pick. This highly rated bubbly is a nonvintage Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the heart of Napa Valley. Mumm has been making fantastic bubbly for a long time now, but I’m sad to write that most of their best wine is available only through the winery.
That is, except this inexpensive — and exceptional — bottle of sparkling wine. Why do I like it? When opening the Mumm Brut Prestige, you’re greeted with aromas of early summer blossoms, citrus and melon. Drinking it, you taste a refreshing blend of acidity and fruit that will pair well with most of your summer dishes.
|Domaine J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux Blanc de Blancs Brut NVLast is a nonvintage bubbly from France, but not from the Champagne region — it’s produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Though this wine is NV (nonvintage) and is a relatively uncommon blend of Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc fruit, it’s made in the traditional method just like the “real” bubbly wine from the Champagne region.
Why do I like it? The usual suspects, for sure: price, quality and availability. But it drinks like expensive Champagne with a rich, yeasty nose and body to match. Just don’t tell anyone you paid around $13, because your wine-savvy friends will exclaim that they’re drinking “Champagne” worth 2 to 3 times what you really spent!
What is your have a favorite bubbly for summertime, or anytime at all?
About the author: Steven works in Williams-Sonoma’s corporate training department. He is a self-described refugee of the American Midwest who came to the Bay Area for work and has since fallen in love with the hearty red wines of Sonoma Valley. Steven balances his wine vices with mountain biking and running in California’s Marin County.