If there ever was a reason to celebrate one year ending and a new year beginning, 2020 is it. Several bottles over. Here are some suggestions.
• Argentina. From one of the highest regions in Mendoza and made with organic grapes, the Domaine Bousquet Brut Rose Pinot Noir/Chardonnay ($13): full of apple, pear and cherry.
• California. Napa’s Frank Family Vineyards has produced sparkling wine since its founding in 1993, continuing the tradition of the previous owner, Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars: 2015 Brut Rosé ($55), pinot noir/chardonnay blend, pretty strawberry and cherry, creamy palate. 2016 Rouge ($55) another pinot noir/chardonnay blend, ruby red due to greater skin contact, vibrant, rich, creamy, fresh acidity.
Located in Sonoma’s Bennett Valley, Sosie emphasizes a French winemaking style to achieve precision and finesse in their wines, like these two intriguing sparklers featuring Rhône varieties: 2018 “First Things First” Brut Nature ($30) roussanne, very dry, crisp stone fruits, brioche, delightfully creamy; 2018 “A Moment of Weakness” Sparkling Red ($35) 100 percent syrah, dark berries and plums, baking spice.
Not surprisingly, the sparkling wine from Sea Smoke, a highly regarded pinot noir specialist, is all pinot noir. From sustainable and biodynamic estate vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills, the 2015 “Sea Spray” Blanc de Noirs is a crisp, dry succulent wine of strawberries, and buttered toast.
• France. Billecart-Salmon, founded in 1818, has produced a unique cuvée, which is entirely vinified in oak and composed of the three Champagne varieties – pinot nor, chardonnay, and pinot meunier – in equal proportions. The Brut Sous Bois ($80) shows a dramatic bouquet of pear, cherry and butter and a harmonious expression of citrus and pear coupled with a creamy mouthfeel.
• Italy. Foamy, fruity prosecco from northeastern Italy has emerged in recent years as Italy’s go-to value bollicine (bubbles). Adami, one of the best producers, is known for pioneering single- vineyard prosecco and distinctive production methods like extended lees contact and small batch second fermentation, instead the common large batch practice. Four recently releases illustrate this: Garbèl Brut ($17), dry, crisp, lemon, pear; Bosco di Gica Brut ($20), round, soft, good body, tangy finish; 2019 Col Credas Extra Brut ($23), over nine years in development, very dry, refreshing, exotic fruit, elegant; 2018 Vigneto Giardino ($23), from the family’s first vineyard and probably the first single-vineyard prosecco, fruity, focused, intense, hint of anise.
Although Piemonte in Italy’s northwest is most famous for its red wines, the region also excels with spumante (sparkling wine). Enrico Serafino, established over 140 years ago, produces fine reds but is best known as a specialist in high-quality Metodo Classico (referring to the Champagne Method). One the winery’s best is the 2016 “Oudeis” Alta Langa Brut ($28), made mostly with pinot nero (pinot noir) and chardonnay; it is a fantastic value with dramatic apple, yeasty notes and impressive structure.
• Oregon. Since 1987, Argyle has been one Oregon’s top pinot noir and chardonnay producers and arguably, the state’s best sparkling wine maker. Among its impressive portfolio, the 2016 Blanc de Noirs ($35), mostly pinot noir, a touch of pinot meunier is delightfully fresh and precise, with red berry fruit, savory notes and creamy texture.