As we move towards the end of the year holidays, sparkling wine sales pick up quite a bit of steam. In fact, a large majority of producer's sparkling wine sales - by some estimates almost half - come in the month of December. And while true Champagne (which only comes from the Champagne region of France) is still the king, great value sparkling wines are available from many different countries.
this tasting, we opened three sparklers from three different countries,
all designated a "brut" or dry style with 12 or less grams of residual
sugar per liter and all costing under $15. Two of them, The French
sparkler from Varichon and Clerc and the Spanish Cava "Sonim", are made
in the champagne method which involves inducing a secondary fermentation
in the bottle by adding yeast and sugar. The carbon dioxide produced is
the source of the bubbles. The Italian Prosecco from Zardetto is
produced in closed stainless steel tanks where the same process is
induced in a larger volume.
The first wine in our tasting was
the Varichon and Clerc, a French bubbly produced via the Champagne
method from three grapes, Ugni Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Colombard. It
retails at my local store for just $9.99.
we have fine, small bubbles with aromas dominated by nutty/yeasty
tones. It was also very nutty in the mouth at first but with airing
began to show some apple and pear elements. The nose also opened a bit
more and showed some melon and vanilla. It's delicate, steely and
finishes quite dry with good length. It's a great value at this price
point. It's imported by one of my favorites, Maximum Wine Co.
Next up at $12.99 was the Spanish Cava Sonim. This
sparkler, produced from 40% Parellada, 30% Macabeu and 30% Xarel-lo,
three indigenous Spanish grapes, had a much more pronounced leesy/nutty
nose with vanilla and herbal tones. In the mouth, the Sonim leans much
more to citrusy fruit tones, especially lime zest. It finishes dry and
tangy with good persistence. It's imported by Aviva Vino.
Lastly we tried the $12.99 Italian Prosecco from Zardetto. With this
sparkler we found a much more fruit driven nose featuring apricot and
melon with the nutty nuance clearly taking a back seat. This may have
had something to do with the secondary fermentation occurring in tank as
opposed to in the bottle. In the mouth, there was clearly more sweet
fruit, again dominated by apricot and white fruits. It finishes long,
yet still dry and though it's not quite as delicate as the Varichon and
Clerc, If you like a fruitier style, this one's for you.
Imported by topnotch importer Winebow,
this sparkler is a sure crowd pleaser. If I had to rank them in order
of my preference, I'd go with the Zardetto as number one, followed by
the Varichon and Clerc and then the Sonim. Still, they are all good
values and present excellent examples of sparkling wines that won't bust
your budget. They'll make great aperitifs to a special holiday meal.
Happy Holidays and as always, cheers!