Affordable Spring and Summer Sparklers
Some of the best bubblies are budget-friendly
It’s that time of year for sun-drenched days when jackets and scarves are an afterthought. School is winding down, patio dining is on deck, anxiously awaited travel is in sight and the everyday celebration is knocking, if not beating down your door. All of this bottled-up excitement requires a libation with that perfect pop.
Sparkling wine and Champagne for a celebration is a not a new concept. However, each year new and exciting sparklers hit the market ready to please. Cava, Champagne, Crémant (sparkling wine made in France outside the geographical area of Champagne) and fun Pét-Nats are all ready to jump out of the bottle and fill your glass. But, which bottle suits the occasion? Finding the right one and at the perfect price adds a bit of pressure, but, sparkling wine can dazzle dressed up or dressed down. Below are some that are suitable for anything from cool summer nights or scorching beach days to those Saturday night rooftop celebrations.
D.O. Cava, Spain ($12)
Campo Viejo is a pioneer in sustainable agriculture. In 2001, it opened an underground state-of-the-art winemaking facility in Rioja preserving vineyards for future winemaker generations. An all female trio of winemakers produce this rosé cava, which won silver in the 2018 NY International Wine Competition, from the trepat grape, which lends a fun, frisky use of color to the wine. The attractive pink hue is perched upon notes of mouth-watering ripe strawberries accented by friendly bubbles. The wine pairs perfectly with breathtaking sunsets and good conversations. Fill ‘er up!
Champagne, France ($44)
A gift of Champagne is always a safe bet when invited to a dinner party, and this bottle of bubbly is sure to impress your gracious hosts. It was the standout of the 2018 New York International Wine Competition winning Champagne Producer of The Year and a double gold medal for Best Brut Traditional Method. The Cheurlin Family has centuries of expertise under their belt and cultivate picturesque vineyards in The Aube region in Southern Champagne. Sophisticated, delicate with fresh citrus and minerality ready to party with anything from fried chicken to seafood.
Western Cape, South Africa ($22)
Quality South African wine is coming out swingin’. This bubbalicious salmon-colored method cap classique from the Western Cape is not to be missed. A staple in the South African wine industry, Graham Beck’s wines are the benchmark for quality and taste. It has all the silky, tropical fruit attractiveness of a New World Sparkler—including a very approachable price. Mostly Pinot Noir with some chardonnay, this delightful surprise is your summer vacation in a bottle.
Domaine Barmès-Buecher Crémant D’Alsace Brut Nature 2016
Alsace, France ($20)
Crémant is a heck-of-a-deal. It is made in France outside of the Champagne region and employs some of the same production methods with local grapes. Even better, they are usually ⅓ or less of the price of Champagne. Finding an excellent crémant is a celebration in and of itself. Domaine Barmès-Buecher is located in Wettolsheim, Alsace and is run by Geneviève Barmès and her two children, Sophie and Maxime. They believe in respecting nature and putting forth a trustworthy expression of terroir from vintage to vintage. The Domaine converted to biodynamics in 1998. This brut nature (bone-dry, no added sweetness level) bottling of crémant d’Alsace has a true Alsatian blend of pinot auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay (Crémant D’Alsace is the only AOC in Alsace that can use Chardonnay). Finessed citrus and minerals dance across your tongue. Essential for brunch or park days.
Anderson Valley, California ($26)
Pétillant-naturel (Pét-Nat for short) is super fun and a great way to add something unique to the beach party. Pét-Nats are single fermentation sparkling wines (Traditional or Champagne Method has two fermentations) and are only slightly fizzy and can have the smallest amount of residual sugar. Yamakiri’s wine makers Lisa Bauer and Alex Crangle practice biodynamics and a hands-off approach to winemaking. They do not use any herbicides or fertilizers and do not till the land. The grapes are whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel and also unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is a tropical fruit whirlwind of melon, guava, and honey-covered pineapple. Just wine and nothing more.