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Top 15 Sparkling wines to welcome New Year in style

 

Even if we don’t drink Champagne all year, now is the time that we just have to have some bubbles for the New Years celebration. I am not sure what it is, that makes Champagne so festive.

It must be the beautiful packaging. Or is it the fact that (based on scientists), there are over 49 million bubbles in a single bottle of Champagne? How did they count it anyway?
Maybe the special sound of the cork being pushed out makes it a wine for a special occasion. No, it must be that delightful feeling on the tongue when those millions of tiny bubbles burst in our mouth, full of fruity flavors.

There is something very seductive about those petite pearls flowing in the Champagne flute – and when you add some fresh strawberries … hmmm, who can resist? Sounds, sexy, doesn’t it? Do you have a very special memory related to the strawberries in Champagne? I bet few of us do.

Maybe the exclusivity and the price factor are also the reason why drinking Champagne is a fashionable habit among the high society. For many of “femme fatale” of history, it became an important part of their life.

Madame Coco Chanel once said: “I drank Champagne only on two occasions – when I was in love and when I wasn’t.”

Marlene Dietrich said: “Champagne makes you feel like it’s Sunday and better days are just around the corner.”

Even Napoleon commented on champagne: “In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it!”

I think I like this quote about Champagne the best: “I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad,” said Madame Bollinger, one of the grandes dames of Champagne. “Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”

So what exactly is Champagne? Anyone in the world can make a sparkling wine in the méthode champenoise, but only the Champenoise can make Champagne. In other words, for a wine to be called Champagne, it must come from that particular region of France that is located 90 miles east of Paris, in the hills near the towns of Epernay, Reims, and Sézanne.

The grape varieties used in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Rosé Champagnes can be made either by adding red wine to the white to make it pink, or by macerating the juice just long enough to get the pink color from the skins of the grapes.

Most of Champagnes are dry – or “Brut” level of sweetness.If you’re not sure how dry your Champagne will be when buying it, look at the label – these words will indicate the level of sweetness in the wine (in order from driest to sweetest): Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec. Extra Brut is the driest. Demi-Sec is sweet enough Champagne to serve with dessert.

My personal favorite Champagne houses are:
Laurent Perrier
Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin
Krug
Dom Perignon
Piper-Heidsieck
Henriot
Perrier-Jouët Bollinger .

I love Rose Champagnes and if I had a choice, I would pick vintage over non-vintage, although that would be a very special treat. The original Champagne also age well – and the highest quality Champagne from Gran Cru or Premier Cru villages can gracefully age for several decades!

The vintage Champagne (or vintage Rose Champagne) are unfortunately priced way too high to my budget. But life is too short to drink bad wine! Therefore, just like in still wines category, there are quality and affordable alternatives when it comes to bubbles.Sparkling wines I listed below, can not be called Champagne. They are not made from the same grapes, and they don’t come from French Champagne region. But, some of them are made by méthode champenoise, which means that “Liqueur de tirage” (a mix of still wine – Champagne – sugar and yeast) is added to the bottled wine. That step encourages a second fermentation in the bottle, which creates the bubbles.

Although these sparkling wines can’t be called Champagne, they are really high quality alternatives to the original, for the price. I hope it could be an inspiration for your New Years party – so the recession don’t compromise our spoiled taste buds! You wouldn’t be disappointed.

(Just note that the prices I am listing are informative, known average retail, that can vary from state to state.

Here we go, my Top 15 Sparkling wines of the old world:

Spanish cava:

$ 10 Segura Viudas Brut Reserva N/V (non vintage)
$ 10 Segura Viudas Brut Rose N/V
$ 14 Marques de Gelida Brut
$ 20 Llopart Brut Rose N/V (aged 5 years)
$ 24 Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad
$ 25 Llopart Leopardi Brut Reserva (aged 5 years))

French sparkling wine:
$ 14 Monmousseau Brut “Etoile” N/V
$ 14 Monmousseau Vouvray Demi-Sec (slightly sweet)
$ 14 Monmouseau Vouvrey (sweet)

Italian Prosecco:

$ 14 Adriana Adami “Garbel 13” Prosecco N/V
$ 14 Mionetto Prosecco Brut N/V
$ 16 Adriana Adami “Bosco Di Gica” Prosecco Brut N/V
$ 20 Adriana Adami “Vigneto Giardino” Prosecco
$ 25 Mionetto Sergio Rose
$ 30 Mionetto Sergio Extra Dry

 

Last New Year Eve we have toasted with a bottle of Mionetto Sergio Rose – and we absolutely loved it. To welcome the 2012 year, I plan to open my last bottle of Veuve Clicquot – Ponsardin Rose, sitting in my cellar for 4 years. Why now? No particular reason.

We will toast to all the new and exciting events that are awaiting us this upcoming year. There are quite a few already announced to be happening pretty soon. In my case, I will have many reasons to stock on bubbles for the next year.  I can’t wait to tell you.

Whether you plan to toast a farewell to the outgoing year or welcome the new, I hope it will be a year full of health, happiness, professional success and love for you and your family. Most importantly, let it be the year full of new, exciting discoveries of great wines!

Thank you for following my wine blog this year and have a Happy New Year!

 

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