I am a geek for sparkling wines. This is one of my very favorite seasons as there are so MANY occasions to elegantly sip Champagne and share toasts with my friends and family. I cannot imagine a Christmas Eve dinner at my house without a few bottles of something bubbly chilling in my outdoor cellar (AKA-the snow drift on my patio), patient a Christmas morning without Mimosas and waffles, or a tiring but rewarding night at the restaurant on New Year’s Eve without toasting at midnight with my battle weary co-workers. Here are a few of my favorite brut Champagnes and few other international sparklers that make me feel festive!
- Krug Grand Cuvee Brut of Reims, ampoule Champagne. As my pals at the American Club used to say, “No Krug? No thanks!” ( usually when being offered anything else bubbly). If a budget is of no concern to you, this is the real deal. This is the bottle for when you really have something fabulous to celebrate! The Grand Cuvee is made from all three permitted grapes of the Champagne region, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but is predominately based on crazy good Chardonnay. This is a more full bodied and bold style of Champagne that screams for osetra caviar.
- Heidsieck & Co. Monopole “Blue Top” Brut of Epernay, Champagne. I recently tasted this again for the first time in years at the sparkling wine event that we hosted at Mason Street Grill on Monday night. Really impressed with the depth and quality of this wine! Buttery, toasty, with baked bread, pear and apricot notes with hint of smokiness. Pinot Noir is the dominant grape in this cuvee. A dash easier to locate than Krug, and a great deal more affordable.
- Argyle Brut of Willamette Valley, Oregon. Made from classic Champagne region grapes using classic Champagne production methods, this is a fun number from here in the States. Their entry level brut is bright and racy with flavors of apple, lemon, and more of that baked bread nose. Delightful and crisp, yet again, more budget friendly. If you want to try something really special, track down their “Extended Tirage”, and taste it side by side with your favorite vintage Champagne. Prepare to be shocked.
- “Naked on Roller Skates” by Some Young Punks of South Australia. I wonder sometimes if that name were in French if it would still seem as naughty… This bubbly is made from Shiraz and Mataro grapes. Yes, this can happen. No, this is not a sweet wine. It has a darker reddish/pinkish color than you may imagine, and is dry yet balanced with flavors of red berries, spices and dark fruits. Bring this to a party as a hostess gift, I dare you. Your bottle will be an unwitting topic of conversation ALL NIGHT.