What's New Year's Eve without popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly? Gotta have that "pop" to make it official, right? But those bubbles are getting more and more pricey. When I decided to do a post on $15 bottles I thought I'd have a lot of choices, especially from the US, and mainly California. I was so surprised to find that most of the Cali sparkling wine is priced above my $15 limit. So I had to go the international route, and I don't mean to Champagne.
To find a budget friendly bottle of bubbles made well, you really need to go to Italy and Spain. But I did manage to find two wineries in the states that offer bubbly for $15 or less. All selections are NV which means non-vintage, a blend of many vintages. True vintage sparklers are more expensive, and they aren't made every year.
Segura Viudas Brut Rosé NV, $10. You cannot beat the value on this rosy sparkler, especially since it is made in the traditional méthode Champenoise. In the Penedes region of Spain, outside of Barcelona, sparkling wines made this way are called Cava. I think Cavas are some of the wines for the money. Segura Viudas Brut Rosé is made mostly from the Trepat grape, with a little Garnacha (aka Grenache) thrown on. It is lively with a delightful strawberry flavor and crisp acidity, making it perfect with your holiday meal.
Freixenet Cordon Rosado NV, $12. I love pink bubbles! To me they are more festive and just make me happy. Anyway, you may know the name Freixenet from the black bottle of bubbles. The Cordon Rosado is a much more sophisticated wine. It's a Cava, made in the traditional method from Trepat and Garnacha grapes. The resulting wine is a beautiful salmon pink, with red berry aromas and lots of fresh ripe fruit like strawberries and raspberries on the palate. A delicious way to ring in the new year.
Big White House Cellars Grand Cuvée NV, California, $14. Big White House is a winery in Livermore Valley, east of the San Francisco Bay. Livermore produces world class wines and is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California. Big White House's bubbly is a cuvée, or blend, made from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, which adds a sweeter floral and stone fruit aroma and flavor. I love the festive Art Nouveau label on this wine, created by winery artist Laura Marion [see label at top of post].
Mionetto Prosecco Brut NV, Treviso DOC, $14. In Italy, sparkling wine that isn't made in the traditional method is called Prosecco. The Mionetto Brut is a perfect example of this lively, fresh style. Glera is the name of the grape, and the vineyards are in the Veneto region. The secondary fermentation that produces the bubbles happens in a large tank (called the Charmat method) instead of in individual bottles. Prosecco is not aged very long, which is why it is a fresher style of sparkling wine.
Gruet Brut NV, New Mexico, $14.99. Yes, this sparkler hails from New Mexico. Since the winery's first commercial release in 1989, Gruet's been making its mark on the wine world with wines made in the true French traditional method, with the second fermentation -- the one that produces the bubbles -- taking place in the bottle. The wine is made from 75 percent Chardonnay and 25 percent Pinot Noir. The Brut is crisp and dry, aged for 24 months on the yeast in bottle, which gives it that lovely yeasty, baked bread aroma. You get tiny bubbles that keep on going. This is my go to $15 sparkler.
Berlucchi Cuveé 61 Brut NV, Franciacorta DOCG, $14.99. This is a rich and lush sparkler, with crisp apple and zesty citrus notes. A real crowd pleaser. It comes from the Franciacorta region of northern Italy, a sparkling wine region that's just gaining an audience in the US.
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