Sparkling wine is so popular some version of it is made in almost every country that produces wine. Although bubbles are appropriate for any occasion any time of year, the holidays are its prime time. The wines below are just the ticket.
Alta Langa “Metodo Classico” is a classification in Italy’s Piemonte. The bubbly is made using the Champagne Method with the Champagne grapes pinot nero (pinot noir) and chardonnay. Enrico Serafino is one of the region’s best producers. Its 2017 “Oudeis” Brut ($27) shows fine dramatic apple, yeasty notes, and impressive structure. The 100% pinot nero 2016 Brut Rosé ($28) offers a sophisticated, lightly toasty experience.
Méthode Cap Classique is South African Champagne Method. These are up and coming bubbly that deserve your attention. Graham Beck arguably is the best producer. The nonvintage Brut ($29), nearly equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir, is crisp with intense lemon wrapped in a toasty, creamy blanket.
Austrian Sekt is a delightful surprise of fine quality. The Hillinger Secco ($22) reflects its organic pinot noir with juicy red cherries, hints of cream and a touch of sweetness. The Malat Brut Nature Reserve ($56), predominantly chardonnay with pinot noir, offers bright citrus, apple and pear with yeasty, nutty aromas.
California sparkling wine increasingly is showing up in the portfolios of the state’s wineries. The best follow the Champagne formula. Here are six fine choices.
• 2015 Frank Family Blanc de Blancs ($55): 100% chardonnay; bright citrus, apple, toasty, luscious; 2016 Brut Rosé ($55): mostly pinot noir, elegant, structured, succulent red berries, minerals, toast.
• 2017 Cuvaison Brut Rosé ($50): mostly chardonnay with pinot noir, vibrant raspberry, pink grapefruit, rich, luscious.
• 2018 Goldeneye Brut Rosé ($65): mostly pinot noir with chardonnay, intense cherry, strawberry, yeasty.
• 2017 Bacigalupi “Brillante” Blanc de Noirs ($74): juicy strawberry, citrus, creamy, wonderful texture.
• Laetitia Brut Rosé ($25): pinot noir and chardonnay, fresh red fruits, savory notes.
Oregon also is a good source of fine fizz. Argyle arguably is its premier maker: 2017 Brut ($35) is majority chardonnay with pinot noir and pinot meunier showing richness with juicy lemon custard. The 2016 Brut Knudsen Vineyard ($50), with intense, tight citrus and stone fruits, toast, light spice and a lush texture, is quite special.
Champagne, of course, is the standard. Here are two special bottles from Laurent-Perrier, a prestigious house founded in 1812. The very dry Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature ($100), sourced from its finest chardonnay vineyards, presents luxurious texture and crisp structure, fresh citrus/apple, and nutty, toasty elements. The 100% pinot noir Cuvée Rosé ($100) offers wonderful cherry and strawberry with hints of herb and spice. The palate is elegant, yet richly structured.