While Champagne remains the benchmark for sparkling wine, today high-quality bubbles are produced around the world. This year, why not try something new? Add dazzle to your celebration with unexpected bubbles.
These wines are sure to please—all are made using the traditional method, like Champagne, and offer outstanding quality at affordable prices. Brut means the bubbles are dry, even if the color is pink, making these wines super food friendly, perfect with everything from aperitifs to dessert, and are better enjoyed sans flute. Branch out this holiday season—there is more than one way to sparkle.
Champagne isn’t the only sparkling wine made in France. A region known for elegant, mineral-driven wines crafted in a dry style, Crémant d’Alsace upholds these characteristics with added bubbles. Due to its favorable climate, grapes in Alsace face few challenges, allowing for full ripeness, aiding in round, rich flavors and smooth texture in its sparkling wine. Crémant d’Alsace deliver a lot of bang for the buck
NV Hubert Meyer Crémant d’Alsace Brut ($19): Crafted of 100% Pinot Gris; vibrant notes of stone and orchard fruit, red berries, flowers, honey, and graham cracker; young and energetic with racy acidity and a mineral-driven finish; way over-delivers on price
NV Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut ($21.99): Crafted of 100% Pinot Blanc; Notes of fresh picked apples mingle with lemon zest and curd, and pink grapefruit; this wine is light, refreshing, and elegant, with a touch of salinity on the palate and youthful bubbles; a perineal pleaser.
NV Willm Crémant d’Alsace Brut Prestige ($20): A cuvée crafted of 42% Pinot Blanc, 45% Chardonnay, and 13% Pinot Noir; soft aromas of orchard fruit, white peaches, white fresh floral notes, fresh citrus, brioche; crisp acidity that is racy on the palate with fine and persistent perlage and a long, tart finish.
When thinking of bubbles from down under, Tazmania comes to mind. However, many producers in Australia make wonderful traditional method sparkling wines. Here are three sure to please.
2013 Deviation Road Beltana Blanc de Blancs Adelaide Hills ($60): A flagship wine made from 100% Chardonnay, crisp orchard and zesty citrus fruit lying upon a bed of minerality, delivers racy elegance and a fine perlage
NV D’Arenberg Pollyanna ‘Polly’ Sparkling Brut McLaren Valle ($28): A cuvée of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grown in the cool climate of Adelaide Hills, named after owner, Chester Osborn’s mom and her focus on all things positive, it offers an alluring bouquet of fruit, flowers, and warm bread, elegant and easy to drink.
2017 Oliver’s Taranga ‘The Hunt for Mrs Oliver’ McLaren Valle ($48): Crafted of 100% Fiano; inspired by family matriarch; a bright, fruit forward, approachable sparkling wine that is easy to drink and super pleasing
Cava is Spain’s answer for traditional method sparkling wines. Cava can be produced anywhere in Spain; however, the Penedès region, located in Catalonia about an hour from Barcelona, is the birth place of Cava and highest production in volume. Originally, Cava was produced using French grapes in order to rival of Champagne. However, after the phylloxera epidemic hit Spain in 1887, most of the French grapes were destroyed, leading to a decision to replant grapes indigenous to the region. This was an important step in distinguishing Cava from Champagne and allowing it to have its own unique journey.
NV Anna de Codorníu Blanc de Blancs Brut ($15): A cuvée of 70% Chardonnay, 75% Parellada, remainder Macabeo, and Xarel-lo; a quintessential cava with notes of bright citrus, orchard, and tropical fruit, white flowers, and brioche; elegant and refined, fine perlage, a crowd pleaser
2017 Alta Alella Bruant Brut Natural ($36): Crafted of 100% Xarel-lo with no sulphur or dosage added—taking Cava to a new level; owner Pujol-Busquets explains they made this wine “because we didn’t know it was possible.” Vibrant notes of orchard fruit, white flowers, and roasted nuts mingle with yeasty brioche and a hint of oxidation; light with vibrant perlage; creamy texture with medium body, this is a serious wine that is fun to drink and share
2015 Marquès de Gelida Brut Gran Reserva ($20): A cuvée of 25% Macabeo, 20% Xarel-lo, 20% Pinot Noir, and 15% Parellada; inviting aromas of orchard fruit, citrus zest, aromatic white flowers, honey and brioche; rich and elegant with fine mousse and delicate perlage, vibrant acidity with a long finish; an incredible wine for the price
Franciacorta is Italy’s premiere sparkling wine region, with all wines recognized as DOCG, Italy’s highest quality designation. Located in the Lombardy region, an hour from Milan, its climate, determined largely by Lake Iseo, as well as the foothills of the Alps and prevailing easterly wind, is ideal for growing Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco using organic viticulture practices. The varied morainic soils create sparkling wines with elegance and complexity.
NV Castello Bonomi Satèn Brut Franciacorta ($50): This exciting category is 100% Chardonnay, with low atmospheric pressure that results in a silky mouth feel, notes of orchard and stone fruit, citrus peel, chamomile, and trailing toast; elegant, creamy, fresh and structured on the palate, delicate perlage with a bright lift
NV Monte Rossa Pas Dosè Coupè Franciacorta ($60): Zero dosage is another exciting Franciacorta category; inviting aromas of orchard, stone, and tropical fruit, with citrus zest, white floral notes, and marzipan; pronounced elegance, refined perlage with a vibrant mousse that is lively on the palate.
NV Vigna Dorata Rosé Franciacorta ($25): A blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay; aromas of red berries, stone fruit, citrus zest, candied ginger, and pastry; elegant and lively on the palate with crisp acidity and energetic perlage
The Israelis have long had an affinity for sparkling wine, but the wines they produced, made from the Colombard grape, were historically low quality. This changed in the 1990’s, when Golan Heights Winery began taking sparkling wine serious. They invested in modern equipment and sent their winemaker to Champagne to learn how to produce high quality bubbles. The result was international award-wining wines. Sourcing samples for this article has been an issue, but here is a gem.
2011 Yarden Blanc de Blancs Brut Galilee ($30): Produced of 100% Chardonnay from the cool region of Golan Heights; delicate fruit notes of orchard and citrus mingle with white flowers and crisp toast; exuberant bubbles and high acidity make this a very pleasing wine
Located in southern France in the foothills of the Pyrénées, Limoux represents some of the oldest sparkling wines in the world. In fact, based on written evidence, it is believed sparkling wine was born here in 1544, when monks at Abbaye of Saint-Hilaire bottled a sparkling wine known as blanquette Limoux. In fact, rumor has it Dom Perignon spent time at this monastery before ending up in Champagne.
NV Calmel & Joseph Blanquette de Limoux Brut ($29): A blend of 90% Mauzac and 10% Chardonnay; lively aromas of orchard, stone, and citrus fruit with toasted almonds; what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in easy drinking deliciousness
NV Terre de Villelongue Crémant de Limoux ($19): A cuvée of 80% Chardonnay, 10% Chenin Blanc, and 10% Pinot Noir; delightful notes of orchard and stone fruit, citrus zest, and orange blossom; bright and easy drinking, crisp acidity with fine perlage; easy drinking
Faire La Fête Brut Rosé Crémant de Limoux ($19): A cuvée of 65% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, and 15% Pinot Noir: Inviting aromas of red berries, stone fruit, orange blossom, and warm croissant; delicate perlage with crisp acidity, lean, focused and highly enjoyable.
It is believed the first bottle of traditional method sparkling wine was produced in South Africa in 1971, by the Simonsig Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. When seeking sparkling wines from South Africa look for wines labeled Methode Cap Classique (MCC) to avoid low quality tank produced wines. Today, over eighty wineries are members of the Cap Classique Association, with many more non-member wineries also producing MCC. There are no parameters on permitted grapes, but most wineries stick to the traditional grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, although Chenin Blanc is also utilized.
2016 Ken Forrester Vineyards Sparklehorse MCC ($30): Crafted of 100% Chenin Blanc; a vibrant nose of orchard, stone, and citrus fruit with pronounced notes of warm biscuits; creamy texture with vibrant acidity and nice lift on finish
2015 Graham Beck Banc de Blancs MCC ($29): This 100% Chardonnay delivers bright notes of orchard fruit, lime zest, and orange citrus, buttered brioche adds depth to nose and palate, vivid acidity, elegant mousse
2016 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé MCC ($24.99): A cuvée of 72% Pinot Noir, 24% Pinotage, and 1% Pinot Meunier; dazzling aromas of red berries, stone fruit, and clotted cream on a scone; bright and light, delicate perlage, vibrant mousse, refined; don’t be afraid of the Pinotage, this wine is lovely
Trentodoc, as it is commonly called, is located near the city of Trento, in the Trento-Alto Adige region of northern Italy. While Franciacorta is crafted in the foothills of the Alps in a Mediterranean climate, Trentodoc is defined by the mountains—The Dolomites, creating unique characteristics and piercing acidity in its wines. Crafted of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Meunier, the wines are at times uneven, ranging from superb to average, but all at good price points.
2013 Ferrari Perlé Brut ($45): A vintage blanc de blancs of 100% Chardonnay with elegant notes of orchard and tropical fruit, honey, and toast, fine perlage creates a pleasant mousse, a wine all will love
2007 Ferrari Brut Guilo Riserva del Fondatore ($109): This show stopping 100% Chardonnay is named after the patriarch of the region and visionary to produce sparkling wine in Trentodoc; notes of orchard and citrus fruit mingle with candied ginger, honey, marzipan on a pastry; lean and focused with a creamy texture, fine perlage, delicate mousse, and a long finish
2015 Maso Martis Rosé Extra Brut Millesimato ($50): This dry wine is crafted of Pinot Noir and delivers notes of red fruit, orange zest, crushed violets, wild herbs, and toasted bread; finesse and focused, it delivers minerality on the palate, along with crisp acidity and fine perlage