Your favorite bottle might be hard to find, but you can still pop the cork on New Year’s Eve (or any eve!) when you look to other regions
If the current and predicted Champagne shortage has you reaching for your smelling salts (or CBD stress reliever), don’t despair: there are plenty of other options for putting the sparkle in your new year celebration. Across the globe, most wine regions make a version of sparkling—many in the same traditional method as Champagne, and for a fraction of the price. Here are a few recommendations from this month’s pro tasting panel for drinking widely and joyously.
This New Year’s Eve, there’s a good chance I’ll be fast asleep by midnight, so opening a fancy bottle of Champagne seems a bit silly. Instead, I’m going to reach for this bottle of Portuguese rosé, Filipa Pato Beiras “3B” Metodo Tradicional Rose NV. It’s delicious, dry but fruity and packs a juicy berry punch. And at less than $20/bottle, it’s a great value so I won’t feel like I’m being wasteful when I nod off in front of the television after one glass. For New Year’s Day, when I’m wide awake, I’ll pull out a bottle of something a little fancier. I’ve been a long-time fan of English sparkling wines: They have the grapes, soil and, lately, a similar climate to Champagne. Nyetimber is the first producer to catch my eye years ago—on trips to London, I would always get a bottle to share with friends I stayed with. Stateside, I look out for the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Brut NV ($55-60+/-), which shows off the cut, minerality, and brioche-iness you would expect from Champagne, with just a bit more generous apple and pear fruit. It will go perfectly with whatever my husband decides to make for breakfast!—Christy Frank, co-founder, Copake Wine Works, Copake, NY.
Pradarolo VEJ Brut 2018 is a classically made sparkling orange wine from Emilia Romagna in Italy and made from the Malvasia grape with the Methode Traditionelle. It undergoes 60 days skin-contact maceration, using natural native yeast and without fining, filtration or added sulfites, and spends 18 months on yeasts before disgorgement. It is a powerful wine with notes of apricot, pear, candied orange zest, dense bubbles, chewy tannins, honey, chamomile and toast. It’s just so exciting! ($59) —Doreen Winkler sommelier and founder, Orange Glou
Col Vetoraz Valdobbiadene Brut Prosecco: This vintage-dated gem for around $25 is richer than the average Prosecco, but bright (and affordable) enough to enjoy multiple glasses without palate or wallet fatigue.—Trevor Wood, general manager for Aria Tuscan Grill/Cicchetti Wine Bar, Charlotte, NC.
I’m always telling people about Nicolas Hirissou’s sparkling Mauzac from Gaillac. It retails under $15 and all the wine pros I know that have tasted it find it refreshing and delicious. Its green apple flavors are extremely versatile with food. Gaillac isn’t well known, so that creates value, and since it’s Methode Ancestrale it qualifies as Pet Nat so all the cool kids will be down to try it as well. Also for New Year’s Eve, he recommends a Sauternes from Bordeaux. “It is the one beverage that after you sip you stop in your tracks because the flavors are so intense and frankly, unexpected,” he says. “People think they don’t like sweet wines but they generally love a Sauternes.” —Jeff Harding, wine director, The Waverly Inn, NYC
For those in need of quantity and don’t want to break the bank, I would highly recommend Jansz Premium Cuvée Brut Rosé ($22) from Tasmania and Graham Beck blanc de blancs brut ($22) from South Africa. Both of these wines showcase an amazing depth and complexity that surpasses their modest price points. They are also wines that will surprise folks if you taste them blind and have them saying, “I didn’t know they made sparkling wine this good from (fill in the blank)!” —Hai Tran, sommelier, contributor Sommation
Something fun to ring in the new year: Metal House’s “Come Here My Love” blanc de blancs NV. Metal House is a family-run New York cidery located in the Hudson Valley. This is their first foray into grapes and it’s absolutely delicious. Bright, fresh citrus notes and a beautiful label to match. This one you bring to a party—it’s a conversation starter and it’s local love! —Celene Santiago, Kitty’s Market, Hudson, NY.
I tend to think about fun bottles of sparkling wine even before I make plans for New Year’s Eve and there are great options at all price points. An entry-level sparkling option—in price not in expression—would be Chidaine Vendanges, Montlouis-Sur-Loire Brut Tradition 2018 from Loire Valley ($24+/-). This beautiful wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes has no dosage and is fermented in tank, which makes this a more affordable sparkling wine that dazzles with character. An oyster pairing will complement the minerality in the wine. Make sure you have two bottles on hand, as this is sure to be a hit. Selbach-Oster Riesling Sekt Brut 2016 Mosel, Germany ($29) is a new wine discovery for me from a loved producer—a knockout if you like flavor and character. With marzipan and kaffir lime notes, it’s expressive but finishes dry on the palate. If you are having any kind of Thai curry for New Year’s Eve, this will be a fun pairing. I would put this out for anyone who says they are not a fan of sparkling wine—this could be a bottle to convert [them]. —Claire Paparazzo, founder of Wine If You Want To
For mass gatherings where you need lots of price-savvy bottles, Castellroig Corpinnat Brut Nature Reserva NV produced in Spain’s Penedes region—ground zero for Cava. From the newest established region with the aim of distinguishing great sparkling wines made in the heart of the Penedes from 100% organic grapes, hand harvested and vinified entirely on the premises of the winery with additional age, this vegan wine with white peaches, spring florals and soft lemon freshness outshines some of the more well-known sparkling names. ($18-$19) —Carrie Lyn Strong, sommelier, and founder of Strong Wine Consulting
“Crémant de Bourgogne is one of my favorites—a weightier style of bubbles that can have Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as some lesser-known grapes from the region. In the fridge now I have a few bottles of Gracieux de Chevalier, from the area between the Côte d’Or and Chablis. ($17-$22) “The Champagne shortage is a real thing, and one way to combat this is to look for domestic bubbles,” he says, calling out California’s Schramsberg as a favorite producer ($30+/-). “They produce some of the best bubbles found anywhere in the world, and the blanc de blancs is aged in their extensive cellars. Look for elegant fruit with slight toasty nutty notes—it’s a highly complex wine for the price tag. —Nick Daddona, wine director, Deuxave, Boston, Mass.
I have been into a diverse selection of sparkling lately. My go-to on a lower price range is D.M. brut (Dom Maria) sparkling from Brazil ($30). This blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will have you second guessing where it is being produced. I love showing people this wine and seeing their pleased reactions. In the medium-price range my selection would be Pol Roger Brut ($43-48+/-). This classic Champagne is great no matter the occasion, and what’s better than drinking some Champagne approved by the Queen herself? 🙂 At a higher price point I would go for one of my tried and true favorites, Taittinger Comtes blanc de blancs, preferably a 2007 or 2008 vintage (average price online $185). —Tiffany Tobey, sommelier, Dallas
Piper Sonoma brut’s quality is so high at such an approachable price point. It’s domestically produced in the traditional method with well-sourced Sonoma fruit— 7% reserve (past vintages) wine and Pinot Blanc. At around $18.99, it’s real bang for the buck with a Champagne house pedigree. Serve this with smoked trout dip: The wine’s richness and tang counterplays with the smoke and salt of the trout. —Smadar Berlingeri, portfolio director, Monsieur Touton Selections