Over the summer I was in North Fork of Long Island, NY, tasting delicious sparkling wine carefully crafted by Lenz Winery, when I read that the panic was unfolding a few miles outside Southampton. Billionaires literally chartered jets to bypass COVID supply issues and make sure they had the champagne they are used to.
Although champagne is delicious, just about every wine region in the world produces their own sparkler. And for all that glitter spent getting their Krug on a private jet, they could have filled entire pools with the 2015 Lenz Cuvée, which is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, using the same methods as champagne. But I wouldn’t waste this beautiful wine this way. Instead, enjoy it with local oysters.
Quick presentation: Wines labeled Champagne can only come from a very small region of France. But it’s a very big world, and in the vast universe of bubbles, there are a great number of wineries and regions adopting the same fermentation process as champagne, seeking to please all palates and deliver wines. . high caliber sparkling wine without the privileged label. There are also other methods of introducing bubbles, some of which are shown below. So don’t despair if champagne is hard to find this year. Expand your horizons and save your private jet for your own trips.
Lenz Cuvée 2015: The second winery to open on Long Island, in 1978 Lenz produces touchstone wines – pure examples like this exceptional Champagne Method sparkler made from 100% Pinot Noir. Lenz planted pinot vines early on, then discovered that North Fork’s harsh climate was not ideal for ripening, in the same way that champagne cannot get grapes ripe enough for still wine. This wine is elegant and lively, with a toasty and energetic finish. ($ 42)
Joseph Phelps Ovation: Looking for something next to champagne, but more luxurious? Joseph Phelps’ first sparkling wine, made to honor the legacy of founder Phelps, is a perfect fit. Toasty nose with an elegant and heavy palate, ripe with stone fruits and flowers, it is made up of 80 percent Chardonnay and 20 percent Pinot Noir. ($ 125)
Nino Franco Grave di Stecca Brut Sparkling 2010: This lovely wine is over ten years old. Made in the Metodo Classico – Italian for the second fermentation in the bottle – it is honeyed on the nose and on the palate with a beautiful deep golden hue. A fine example of an aged sparkler – it’s surprising at first if you expected something less toasty and complex. Made from 100 percent glera, which is the traditional wine of prosecco, it’s great value at $ 50.
Hoopa de La Cantina Pizzolato: I’m in love with
this pet-nat – it’s a bit tropical, well balanced and subtle in a way that wines produced in this style – where the juice is bottled during primary fermentation, resulting in sometimes wild flavor profiles – can to lack. It is vegan, organic and PIWI, acronym of Pilzwiderstandfähig, which represents the grape varieties that cross European vitis vinifera with American vines, which are characterized by marked resistance to fungi. This allows the producer to reduce treatments in the vines. This wine is currently limited in availability in the United States, but I hope to hear a lot more. And the label is really pretty.
Valdo 1926 Cuvée Prosecco Superiore DOCG: Lemon, with beautiful fruit. From the Charmat method, that is to say that the second fermentation takes place in vats, it spends 120 days on the lees, which gives it a nice weight in the mouth. Made mostly with glera mixed with a touch of chardonnay, this is a perfect cheaper option for the holidays. (less than $ 20)
Codorníu El Tros Nou: This artisanal cava made from pinot noir grapes grown in the coldest part of the DO Cava (the Sierra de Prades) shares a lot with a classic champagne. Toasted nose with an elegant and delicious palate, ripe red fruits, enhanced with woody notes. This wine will impress any wine snob, at a fraction of the price of Krug. ($ 120)
Usual Brut: A bit toasty and a bit lemony, with some floral notes, these individual bottles are ideal for solo celebrations or intimate gatherings. Plus, the beaker shaped container is adorable for flowers. ($ 48 for a pack of 6)
Cantina Furlani: Lovers of plain wine, and those curious to try it, should explore this range. Between pet-nat, ancestral method and Champagne method, these wines are fermented naturally – without added yeast or sugar – and very tasty. They are also quite difficult to find. If you can, take the Sboccato Brut Nature Rose, which is 100% Pinot Noir and spontaneously fermented in stainless steel, then refermented in the bottle with frozen must (no added sugar). Disgorged (Sboccatura in Italian), with a minimum of sulfur added if necessary to stop the fermentation. But really, anything in that line will be a good start to a conversation.
Roederer Estate 2015 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage: This lovely cuvée with notes of hazelnuts and spices is one of the rare Californian sparkling wines made from grapes grown on the estate. The vineyard is cultivated in organic and biodynamic agriculture, and L’Ermitage is only produced in exceptional years. ($ 68)