Enjoying Sparklers and Champagnes at a New Year’s Celebration is a fun way to ring in the new year. We open the list with a couple of very consistent winners that appear near the top of our recommended list every year.
We start with the 2008 Schramsberg “Blanc de Blanc” from California’s North Coast. The panel awarded this sparkler 92 points and found it to be fairly priced at $36. We found it to be medium-bodied, balanced and rich for a sparkler. Its flavor profile is green apple with notes of minerality and a hint of lime. It finishes rather dry and its flavors linger for quite some time. The panel suggested pairing this gem with coquilles St. Jacques or stuffed mushrooms.
Our second wine is the non-vintage Louis Roederer “Brut Premier” Champagne for $43. This offering also scored 92 points with the panel. It is a top performer with the panel every year. It is medium-bodied, balanced, and rather elegant. They enjoyed its mint green tea flavors with notes of minerality, green apple, and bread dough. The finish is dry and refreshing. The panel suggested pairing this very nice Champagne with chicken piccatta.
Our sole 91 pointer is another entry from Champagne. It is the 2002 Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvee des Moisnes Brut Millesime.” This is classic Champagne. The only downside to this Champagne is that it costs $70 and only 150 cases were imported. This Champagne displays beautiful deep yellow colors and has tons of tiny bubbles. It is full-bodied, lush, rich, and creamy. Its flavor profile is very traditional with bread dough and toasted almond flavors. We also detected a touch of minerality, oak, and lemon as well. This Champagne is very traditional and elegant. It would pair well fresh smoked salmon or trout almandine.
Our next recommendation brings us to Alsace, France for something completely different. The non-vintage Gustave Lorentz “Cremant D’Alsace” for $24 rolled in with 90 points. This sparkler made from 34% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, and 33% Pinot Blanc should be relatively easy to find as 4,000 cases were made. This sparkler displays crisp apple flavors with a pleasant hint of lime and mild minerality. The finish is dry and rather refreshing. If you are looking for a Very Good and different kind of sparkler to show off to your friends, consider this reasonably priced Cremant D’Alsace from Gustave Lorentz.
The next three offerings are all from Gloria Ferrer and all received 90 points from the panel. The 2006 “Blanc de Blancs” for $26 from the Carneros region is light-bodied, slightly acidic and effervescent. Its flavor profile is apple with hints of white pepper and lemon. The panel suggested that this one would pair well with grilled trout or with warm brie with a blueberry spread on French bread slices. Next up is the 2004 “Royal Cuvee Brut” from Carneros for $32. This one is for readers who like a mineral infused bread dough styled sparkler. We also detected notes of mild apple, lemon, and white pepper. This offering finishes very dry and the panel suggested pairing it with spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing. Finally, we conclude our 90 pointers with the always elegant Gloria Ferrer “Carneros Cuvee Late Disgorged” from the 2000 vintage. This offering costs a bit more at $50, but delivers a level of refinement not found in the other two. It is medium-bodied, nicely balanced, and smooth. Its flavor profile is a mild mineral infused green pear with tart grapefruit and white pepper notes. It finishes dry and rather refreshing. The panel suggested pairing this sparkler with swordfish skewers. It is a nice follow up to the remarkable 1999, but not quite as good.
Our final 90 pointer is the non-vintage Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvee des Moines Blanc de Blancs Champagne Brut” for $62. This Champagne also displays lots of bubbles and opens with a mild bread dough bouquet with a hint of lemon. On the palate, this offering is medium-bodied and slightly acidic. Its flavor profile is a lively lemon with notes of minerality and a touch of green apple. Our mini group thought it would be very nice with broiled scallops.
We covered one 89 pointer of note. The non-vintage Delamotte “Bru” Champagne for $39 opens with a mild green apple bouquet with hints of cantaloupe. This offering is medium-bodied, balanced, and crisp with mild tart green pear and bread dough flavors. We also detected nicely integrated minerality and a dash of white pepper. It is s classic-styled champagne and it is food-friendly as well. The panel suggested pairing it with brick pressed chicken breast with a mushroom risotto.
Other Recommended Sparklers
Fitz non-vintage “Extra Trocken Sekt” (Pfalz, Germany) $22 (87)
This German sparkler called a Sekt is made from 100% Riesling. This is very unique. It opens with a mild green apple and mild bread dough bouquet. On the palate, this wine is quite dry, balanced, and easy going. The flavor profile is a mineral-infused green apple with notes Anjou pear and a hint of apricot. It finishes dry and refreshing. If you are looking for something new and different, give this one a try!
We have two 90 point Rose sparklers we want to highlight. The first one is the 2008 Schramsberg “Brut Rose” for $41. This sparkler is an impressive wine that the panel suggested serving with chicken lo-mein on New Year’s Eve. They found this it to be medium-bodied and slightly acidic with nutty mild strawberry flavors with notes of minerality and white pepper. It finishes dry and refreshing.
The second highlighted sparkler is the 2007 Gloria Ferrer “Brut Rose” for $42. This orangish pink colored sparkler was my personal favorite Sparkling Rose entry this year. The panel had it tied with the Schramsberg. This offering opens with a mild strawberry bouquet with a hint of wet stone. On the palate, it is medium-bodied and balanced with mild mineral-infused strawberry and apple flavors. We found this offering to be rather pleasant. It would be a very nice way to kick off the new year.
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