15 Great Sparkling Wines for Less Than $35

Thanks to Tina Danze and the Dallas Morning News wine panel for a nice piece on sparkling wines to bring in the new year!

Source: Dallas Morning News
December 26, 2012
By Tina Danze

“It’s time again for sparkling-wine sales to soar as the New Year looms. Ads and displays encourage stocking up on the bubbly, but there’s a dizzying variety of styles and swings in quality between labels. To help you navigate the sparkler-shopping maze, the Wine Panel tasted 26 wines costing less than $35, in a range of styles.”

See complete article HERE

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Panel Pick: Raventós i Blanc Reserva Brut Cava 2009, Spain

This family-owned winery dates to 1497 and produced Spain’s first cava in 1872. This sparkler is made from single-vintage, estate-grown fruit. “It’s in a different class altogether from most others. It’s so elegant and has a balance between fruit and toastiness,” Flynn said. “It’s got great texture, wonderful length and minerality on the finish — a sign of complexity.” Tidwell called it a fine, beautifully balanced wine. He agreed with Flynn’s description, adding that no single characteristic dominates. “It’s delicious,” Luscher said. You could enjoy this wine on its own or with caviar.

Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut Cava, NV, Spain

This was the least expensive wine we tasted, and it beat out sparklers more than twice its price. “It’s lovely and has a spicy, fruity character,” Courtney Luscher said. Michael Flynn noted that the sparkler has the “biscuity, toasty yeastiness” that cava is known for. “It’s nice — and the finish goes on and on,” he said. “It’s got some minerality and lemon notes that make it nice, crisp and refreshing,” James Tidwell added. It would play well with caramelized flavors. Pair it with seared scallops, butter-sautéed fish, roast chicken and caramelized onions.

 Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, NV, California

Roederer was one of the first French Champagne houses to successfully translate its signature style to a California house. “It’s got the green apple fruit that’s the hallmark of Roederer style,” Flynn said. “It’s frothy, creamy and fun to drink.” Tidwell called Roederer “one of the best Champagne houses to make wines in California,” and praised the producer’s commitment to quality and consistency. Serve it by itself or with rich seafood dishes, such as lobster or sole.

Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Rosé, NV, France

This is a beautiful sparkling rosé, from a long-respected producer that filed for bankruptcy protection in November. “It’s an understated, elegant, softer-style rosé, with delicate, red berry fruit,” Tidwell said. “It has a winey nose to it. If you imagine it as a still wine, you pick up an earthiness that’s fun, interesting and Old World style,” Flynn said. “For the price, the quality is amazing,” Luscher added. Although stores still have this sparkler in stock, quantities are limited.

Naveran Cava Brut 2010, Spain

This crisp, tangy cava had a profile distinct from the other cavas sampled. “It’s lean and mineraly, crisper and more citric than the other cavas. It doesn’t have as much toastiness, and it’s almost sharp on the back palate. It’s a good choice if you like dry, crisp sparklers,” Tidwell said. “It’s lively on the palate and has a burst of citrus,” Luscher said. Flynn noted that it’s more of a food wine than a sipping wine and says that it’s poured by the glass at the Mansion Restaurant. He recommends serving it with oysters, shrimp, ceviche and smoked salmon.

Alma Negra Sparkling Rosé Malbec 2010, Argentina

You wouldn’t know by looking at it, but this sparkler would please a red wine drinker. “It displays true malbec character — purple fruits, lots of structure — and it will stand up to meat,” Tidwell said. “It’s got an earthy character that you associate with malbec,” Luscher added. “I would like it with antipasti or salumi,” Flynn said. It would also be good with pork, veal or beef tenderloin.

Gruet Brut, NV, New Mexico

The French family that founded this New Mexico house deserves kudos for consistently offering a well-made sparkler in the classic French tradition, at a very affordable price. “It’s a richer sparkler because it has more residual sugar. It’s got more rich fruit — apple and pear — than toastiness,” Tidwell said. Flynn noted that the sparkler is made with classic champagne grapes. He keeps it on hand at home, for drinking any time. It would pair well with creamy, rich dips.

Jansz Premium Non-vintage Cuvée, Tasmania

Panelists noted that this is a different style than the prosecco we had just selected. “I like it — it’s really toasty, with a smoky, brioche quality that you expect in higher quality Champagnes,” Tidwell said. “It’s delicious,” Flynn said. “It’s well-focused, and has a creamy texture and a really clean finish.” It would pair well with roast chicken, scallops and buttery seafood dishes.

Jansz Premium Non-Vintage Rosé, Tasmania

This creamy, fruity sparkler is also very different from the other sparkling rosés we chose. Tidwell described the flavors as “berries baked in puff pastry.” He liked the wine’s buttery, rich taste. Flynn called its flavor profile “cherry Danish in a fun way.” Luscher liked the wine’s buttery pastry quality and forward fruit. “It’s really lovely,” she said. Luscher and Flynn felt the wine would be best suited for sipping solo or for serving at brunch — with all those pastries.

Raventós i Blanc de Nit Rosé Cava, 2009, Spain

his is a fantastic, versatile sparkler and the panel’s favorite. “It’s delicious. It has that slight suggestion of red fruit that gives it dimension,” Flynn said. “It has really fine bubbles and a great finish.” Tidwell called it an elegant wine that’s “well made, yet not contrived.” Luscher noted that the packaging is impressive, too — making it a good choice for a special occasion or a gift. The panel imagined many food pairings for this sparkler: pork, veal, mushrooms, chicken, duck or seafood — really, anything you’d serve with a red or white Burgundy. It’s also lovely on its own.

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