Ring in the new year with a New World sparkling wine!
These sparkling wines are produced like their European counterparts, either by Méthode Champenoise (also called the traditional method), or the Charmat method. Champagne, Crémant, Cava and Franciacorta are produced by traditional method, and Prosecco is produced by the Charmat method.
Both in quantity and quality, the United States is a dominant producer of New World sparkling wines. California is a sure bet for great bubbly, but there is so much more to discover beyond the west coast of the U.S.
Toast to 2012 with these New World bubbles:
Wolf Mountain Blanc de Blancs Brut
Sparkling wine from Georgia, United States ($26)
Yes, it is possible to get an excellent sparkling wine in the southeast U.S. — and Wolf Mountain Vineyards proves it. The family owned and operated winery is located in the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in Dahlonega, about 60 miles north of Atlanta.
The Blanc de Blancs Brut is made from Chardonnay grapes and is produced by the same traditional method as Champagne. The sparkling wine is pale yellow in color with a light and engaging taste. Notes of citrus and golden apple are rounded out with a hint of spice. The bubbles give the sparkling wine a nice fullness in the mouth, with crisp acidity making for a refreshing finish.
2008 Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs
Sparkling wine from North Carolina, United States ($29)
This dry sparkling wine is made from grapes grown at the Biltmore Estate, a popular attraction in Asheville, North Carolina and the home of George Vanderbilt. While the estate and gardens date back to the late 1800s, the vineyards are more recent and were planted in the 1970s. Today the Biltmore Estate is the most visited winery in the U.S., welcoming more than one million visitors each year.
The Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay grapes grown in North Carolina. It is dry and elegant, with flavors of tart lemon, white grapefruit and pineapple. A hint of toast rounds out the palate, and the finish is clean and crisp.
Santa Julia Brut Rosé NV
Rosé sparkling wine from Mendoza, Argentina ($13)
Santa Julia is part of Bodega Familia Zuccardi, one of Argentina’s largest family owned wineries and a leading exporter of Argentine wine. The vineyards are located in Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes Mountains.
The Brut Rosé is made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes and produced using the Charmat method. Vibrant pink in color, the sparkling wine has a fresh and aromatic nose of red berries. The taste is soft, ripe and lively, with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rose. Small bubbles and a touch of sweetness make this wine fun to sip.
Yellow Tail Bubbles Sparkling White
Sparkling wine from South Eastern Australia ($10)
The recognizable Australian wine label has brought its friendly approach to sparkling wine. This white sparkling wine is made with a blend of Semillon, Traminer, Viognier and Trebbiano grapes and produced using the Charmat method.
Extremely fragrant, the Australian bubbly has slightly sweet citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Notes of Meyer lemon, tangerine, guava, white peach and honeysuckle come together for a clean, refreshing finish.
What is interesting about the Yellow Tail sparkling wine is that it is sealed not with a traditional mushroom-shaped cork but with a “Zork” — a plastic cork. After removing the foil you remove a coil of plastic from the neck, then press the button at the top of the Zork to release it from the bottle. The Zork still makes that satisfying pop sound when the bottle is opened (and you still feel the force inside the bottle pushing it out), with the bonus that it can be used to reseal the bottle.
Graham Beck Brut Rosé
Cap Classique from South Africa ($17)
Cap Classique is the name for sparkling wine produced in South Africa using the traditional method. Graham Beck has been producing Cap Classique in the Western Cape province since 1991, and had the honor of serving their Brut at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994.
If you’re a fan of rosé sparkling wines, you must give this a taste. Pale peachy-pink in color, this is rosé at its prettiest. The wine is a blend of Chardonnay (55%) and Pinot Noir (45%) from estate vineyards in Robertson, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Pleasantly sophisticated in flavor with hints of raspberries and cherries, this is an upbeat mix of fun and finesse.