If you're going BIG this New Years, you cannot go wrong with Krug Grande Cuvee (Champagne) for just under $200. It's like a buttered, toasted croissant. You can usually find it at places like Total Wine, at some grocery stores in their locked case, and online at places like wine.com. A step down from that price point is one of my all time favorites: Billecart Salmon Brut Rose (champagne) is delicious for around $90. It has everything you love about a champagne and everything you love about a rose...you've got strawberry and spice cake all rolled into one lovely sip...it's wonderful, heavenly and wonderful all over again. Total Wine sells it, you can also find it online at Wine Access. Or if you're in LA and know my old friend Caroline Styne, or any of her and Suzanne Goin's restaurants, (A.O.C., Lucques and Tavern), you can usually find it on the wine list and even sometimes by the glass.
Making another large step down, (and yes, I realize I'm skipping many steps here, but these are my favs at these price points), I also love Laetitia Brut Rose (CA sparkling) for around $30. This delicious bubbly offers up tastes of apricot jam and roasted hazelnuts. Outside of finding it on the west coast, I've found the Laetitia Brut Rose at a tiny retail wine shop in Wilmington, NC in the Mayfair Town Center. I could easily tell you the name of the shop, link to it and tell you to go there but I won't. You see, I used to work there and apart from the fact that the owner's wife (who also worked there) didn't know a thing about wine, would often come to me for advice on how to sell certain wines, and ask obvious questions about flavor profiles while attempting to sell someone a bottle, she also didn't like the fact that I became pregnant while working there. After I broke the news to her, she said, and I quote,
'Well, now I can't get pregnant because YOU'RE pregnant. So I'm gonna cut back on your hours.'
Her husband was a great guy and knew a great deal about not only wine but how to run a wine shop, she, however, is the reason why I will never visit their shop again. It's a shame because I now kinda have a platform and a say in where people will go to purchase their wines, but they, unfortunately will never benefit from that. Pity, huh? So, I recommend asking your favorite wine retailer about carrying Laetitia or ordering it online from somewhere like Wine.com. And if you're ever in the Wilmington, NC area and find yourself in a tiny wine shop at the Mayfair Town Center, feel free to look around for an unhappy brunette woman and tell her Abbey didn't send you.
A step down from the Laetitia is where you'll find a lot of the sparkling wines I've been drinking lately. I don't necessarily live the lifestyle that allows me to sip on Krug or Billecart on a regular basis anymore, so I am queen of finding good wines (still or sparkling) at an everyday price point. Gloria Ferrera Blanc de Noirs (CA sparkling) for around $20 is a good, and very easy to find, sparkling wine. It's toasty, a bit creamy and it tastes slightly of cola. You can find this at most grocery stores, often on sale, so that's another reason why it's on my list.
If you want to talk respectable Champagne alternatives, we need to talk about Cremant. They are sparkling wines from France, made in same way as Champagne, often using the same grapes, but not made in Champagne. They are a fraction of the price and are usually equally as delicious. There are seven different appellations that include the Cremant designation: Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire. So, depending on the appellation, you have different grapes in each. My favorite is Cremant de Bourgogne because they use the grapes you find in Burgundy: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which is what true Champagne's use... meaning the flavors are quite similar. Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne (French sparkling) has many sparkling offerings and they are all quite good. They retail at around $15+ and Total Wine sells them. They are all extremely good for the price. Jaillance Cremant de Bourgogne (French sparkling) is another wonderful find at this price range, and I just recently discovered it. It's a tad bit less acidic than most Champagne's, offering up flavors of orange and honey, but would still appease most Champagne lovers...including me. It retails for only $13 at Total Wine and is surprisingly delicious.
When you go a step down from the $20 price range, you usually find yourself in the land of Spain and are talking about Cava's. The Cava is Spain's answer to Champagne and is more similar to the flavor profile than Italy's Prosecco. Prosecco's are great, don't get me wrong, but a lot of time you will find them a bit too light and fruity at this price range. And Cava's are more on the dry side, which satisfies more people who want the flavor of Champagne at the $10-$12 price range. (If you want an easy to find Prosecco, try one of my favorites: Nino Franco Rustico for around $15. It's citrusy, bready, and beautiful. Total Wine sells it, as does most grocery stores with a large wine selection.) Berberana Brut Cava is probably my favorite Cava. My husband discovered it and served it at my 30th surprise birthday party...I don't think I let anyone else drink it that night. It's $10!!!! I absolutely love this stuff. Get it at Total Wine. If you want a good grocery store cava, then you can't go wrong with Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut for the $10-$12 range. It's a little fruitier than the average cava but still remains quite dry. It tastes of peach and vanilla and is great for the price and the fact that every grocery store in America sells it.
So that's it. Those are my favorite sparkling wines at several different price points. I've done a lot of research over the years (a tough job but someone has to do it) in order to provide you with such information. So hopefully you got something from it!! If you have any questions, I'm always available to answer them at info.everydaychampagne.com Or if you're a wine merchant and would like me to do any wine reviews, please contact me on the same email as well.
I hope everyone has a wonderful, happy and safe New Years! Cheers!!!!
(One if my favorite online wine merchants is Wine Clicker. I used it to buy some bottles for my husband this Christmas and they had excellent customer service. The bottles I picked out had vintage changes and they called me personally to approve the sale. They were quick with their delivery and very competitive with their prices.)