I love Champagne, but let’s all be honest, Champagne is expensive, so sometimes it’s fun to go with geekier and more affordable choices. Here are my four recommendations for a geeky New Year’s Eve.
- Crémant de Bourgogne: Basically the bubbly of Burgundy. There’s all kinds of good news with these beautiful bottles. Starting at $20 you’re looking at a soft, frothy, smooth and round sparkling wine from the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape. The bubbles on these wines are elegant and not aggressive, creating a fine mousse. There are white and rosé styles. Enjoy!
- Franciacorta: This is a great go-to for the price. Franciacorta is a wine region surrounding the town of the same name in the north Italian region of Lombardy. In short, these sparkling wines are Italy’s answer to Champagne. Yet it ‘s by all means not like Champagne. Wines from here are made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as in rosé and white forms. The native grape, Pinot Bianco, can also be used to give the wine a bit of tartness. Like Crémant De Bourgogne, these wines are soft and elegant with just a hint more acidity. When a Franciacorta wine is made from only Chardonnay it’s called a Saten; pretty sexy. The cost of a good Franciacorta should be right up there with the Crémant.
- Gruet Blanc De Noir: This American Sparkler is made by a family from Champagne, France who moved to New Mexico to make bubbly out in the Southwest. The Gruet Blanc De Noir will run you just under $20 and it’s made exclusively from Pint Noir grapes. The bubbles are vibrant and the mouthfeel is round and alive. There’s a subtle hint of welcomed tartness cleaning up the finish. This is a great American made wine.
- Schramsberg Mirabelle: One of oldest estate wines in California, Schramsberg is known as some of the finest American Sparkling wine the country has to offer. Their highest-end styles are considered “White House” wine as they are the bottles any and every honored guest enjoys when visiting Capitol Hill. And you want to know what’s really awesome? They make an entry level that will knock your socks off. The Schramsberg Mirabelle is a beautiful bottle of bubbly made exclusively from Chardonnay; it’s buoyant yet soft with elegant and vibrant bubbles. This nonvintage is usually around $30.
Of course, we sometimes want the most traditional stuff to ring in the New Year, but the price tag freaks us out a bit. There is good news: You can find a solid Champagne for $40. Not bad for a celebratory event. If you’re in the $20 range, trust your wine merchant.