Sparkling wine is so popular that some version of it is made in almost every country that produces wine.
Sadly, most of it is drunk only during holidays or special occasions. That certainly is understandable, as these wines just seem to make any occasion seem more festive, more special.
And that is why, this year, I decided to publish my annual sparkling wine column after the holidays. My mission here is to convince you to drink sparkling wine throughout the year.
This year, I’ve been drinking a lot of Crémant d’Alsace as more affordable alternatives to nonvintage Champagne, with comparable quality. This bubbly from a region better known for amazing Rieslings and Gewurztraminers is produced from the classic Champagne varieties — pinot noir and chardonnay — though pinot blanc, pinot gris and riesling make it into some blends.
The rosés, though, are 100% pinot noir. All wines made using the same method as Champagne, described on labels as “Méthode Champenoise” or “Méthode Traditionnelle”.
Prosecco, that foamy, fruity northeastern Italian wine from the native glera grape, has vaulted in popularity in recent years. When I visited the region in 2001, I became aware of the reputation of Adami as one of the region’s best producers. The winery is known for aging its wines before the secondary fermentation that produces the bubbles, and for implementing that secondary fermentation in small batches throughout the year (the common process is to do it shortly after harvest in one large batch).
Ever heard of “Methode Cap Classique”? It’s a creative way of describing South African sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne Method.
MCCs often use traditional Champagne varieties, as well as more signature South African grapes like chenin blanc. These are up and coming bubbly varities that deserve your attention.
Here are my recommendations:
• Lucien Albrecht: Brut ($23), mostly pinot blanc; fresh and crisp apple and apricot with pleasant saline and chalky notes. Brut Rosé ($23) 100 percent pinot noir; fresh strawberry and citrus, creamy palate.
• François Baur Brut Réserve: pinot blanc, riesling, chardonnay, pinot gris; tropical fruit, lychee, soft palate.
• Dopff & Irion Rosé Brut: 100% pinot noir; pretty cherry, crisp and upstanding.
• Gustave Lorentz Brut: chardonnay pinot blanc and pinot noir; bright citrus, juicy, fresh and a little spicy.
• “Garbel” Brut ($16), the family’s entry-level prosecco; lemon, pear, honey
• “Dei Casel” Extra Dry ($20), a bit of sweetness, lightly floral with citrus.
• “Bosco di Gica” Brut ($20), Adami’s best-known wine and a perennial favorite of mine; uplifting foam, brisk citrus with tangy finish.
• 2018 “Vigneto Giardino” ($22), the first single-vineyard prosecco; opens with fruit punch, a hint of anise, mouthfilling and finishes with a blast of fruit
Methode Cap Classique
• Boschendal Brut Rosé ($28) mostly pinot noir, with a touch of pinotage and chardonnay from the estate’s top vineyards; displays notes of red berries, with some complexity.
• 2013 Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs ($29), 100 percent chardonnay; a selection of the estate’s highest-quality chardonnay; crisp lemon wrapped in toasty crème brûlée; drinks intense, brisk and austere
• 2015 Ken Forrester Sparklehorse ($30), 100% chenin blanc; hints of creaminess yield to tight, brisk citrus and apple, my favorite.