I’ve been tasting all kinds of sparkling wines in recent weeks with an eye toward suggesting some satisfying and economical choices for New Year’s and beyond. There is, of course, nothing quite like Champagne (we’re talking about the genuine thing). Eric Asimov of The New York Times makes the case in his column last week that it’s a good time to buy Champagne because prices are down; he includes one of my perennial favorites, Pol Roger Brut. I’m going to look beyond Champagne with some excellent sparkling wines that you can enjoy for a fraction of the cost.
From California, Mumm Napa’s Brut Rose is superb, with nice touches of raspberry, cream and herbs on the finish. It’s well worth the $24 suggested price.
From Washington State, Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Columbia Valley Brut is very dry with fine bubbles and notes of pear, lemon, bread and herbs. At $12, it has unusual richness.
Also from Washington, Pacific Rim’s “White Flowers” Brut Sparkling Riesling, $14, is tangy and tart with white peach, lemon and lime notes. A natural pairing with shellfish and even caviar.
From Argentina, Trapiche’s Extra Brut, $12, is crisp and light with apple and citrus notes. Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, New York.
And from Italy, Oriel’s Prosecco 360 is a rich interpretation of the classic Italian sparkler. At about $15 or so, it has nice touches of pear and strawberry and a yeasty finish.
In tasting these and other non-Champagne sparklers, I was reminded once again that, at relatively reasonable prices, they offer a festive and satisfying experience. And in this economy, who isn’t looking for that? On that note, I’ll raise my glass and offer my best wishes for a happy and successful 2010.