I’m a slut for bubbles. There, I said it. When people ask the question about being trapped on a deserted island and which bottle of wine I’d pick, it’s always bubbles. Fellow bubble sluts should be happy other parts of the world are making better bottles of sparkling wine, and the best part is those bottles are really affordable. In another post, I shared everything there is to know about Champagne.
We are smack dab in the middle of summer’s heat so there’s really no better time to pop open a bottle of the VGS (very good shit). If you’re like me, you’d love to open a bottle of 1990 Krug Brut but can’t afford to drop that kind of coin. So I’ve done the research and found the next best thing (by research, I mean I tasted lots of bottles) — high quality bottles of bubbles for not very much money. Here’s a six pack of bottles for under twenty bucks. Did I say six? Sorry, I drank one already. There’s only five.
Vichon Crémant de Limoux, France ($20) This is one of the real gems I’ve come across lately. In a word, YUM! That yeasty, baked biscuity thing gets me every time and this one’s got it. Fine little tiny bubbles that would make Don Ho jump for joy provide the back drop for baked bread, freshgreen granny smith apples and lemon zest.
Crémant is basically French wine made in the same method as Champagne, but doesn’t come from the Champagne region. Sometimes it can be the next best thing. I like the precision and finesse with the Vichon. It’s clean, it’s fresh but most of all it’s fun and easy to drink. And for twenty bones you can’t go wrong. Therein lies the beauty of Crémant. Value AND quality.
Gruet Brut Rosé NV ($13) Every time I drink a bottle of Gruet it puts a smile on my face. Quite possibly the best value in bubbles anywhere in the world. Get this—some French guys who know how to make really good Champagne came over to the states in the early 1980’s and got talked into buying some random piece of property in New Mexico for next to nothing. The property is high up in the New Mexico mountains at about 4,000 feet elevation (the highest vineyards in the U.S.) and has similar soils to Champagne Not the same but similar. Result? A great bottle of bubbles that doesn’t cost much.
One taste of these wines will have you jumping up and down cheering, “Hip, Hip, Gruet!” I’m particularly fond of the Rosé because of it’s full mouth feel and precision. Rich yet subtle toasted notes combine silky bubbles and raspberry mousse nuances. For $13 you’d hope to get a decent bottle, but when this baby tastes like it should cost $50. Stop reading this and go get a bottle now. Thank me later.
Conde de Subirats Cava Brut ($16) Spain has quietly (or not so quietly) been improving its quality on its bubbles in recent years. Well, at least that’s the way it seems in the states. Really, Spain has been making well priced quality Cava for years but surprisingly the average wine drinker here in the states haven’t fully realized the potential of this region. Cava is made in the same way Champagne is made, but with different grapes like Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. The wines can be fruity yet aromatic and light.
The Conde de Subirats has a playful nature exhibiting aromas that make you feel like you are walking through an orchard of tropical fruit trees that’s located next to a bakery. There’s racy lemon peel, yellow carnations and granny smith green apple intermingled with wet stones on the nose.
Is is the BEST bottle of wine? No. But it is a very solid value for less than a twenty-spot.
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut ($19) Ever hear of Cristal? Aside from rappers like Jay-Z sharing the merits of Cristal, it’s one of the most famous Champagnes in the world next to Dom. The producer of Cristal is Louis Roederer, who had the vision to come over to California in 1981 and establish an American outpost to his Champagne house. The estate winery is located in the cool climate Anderson valley north of Healdsburg and all other civilization. I hope you’re picking up a theme here. Like Gruet in New Mexico, Roederer was established in a very cool growing area by French winemakers.
Sparkling wines love to be grown in really cool places. You need the cold temperatures to raise acidity in the wines, which in turn give you the crisp, acidic backbone. Vines with age only improve the quality, so here you have a sub $20 wine made with 30-year old vines in a cool growing area. The result is delicious, especially for the price. There’s fresh minerality, veiled by strands of Golden Delicious apple, lemon tart, and bing cherries.
Mionetto Prosecco, Brut Spumante ($14) Don’t sleep on Italy! Prosecco can remind you why you drink wine in the first place. The Mionetto is a good value at this price and offers a silky ride with tree fruits strutting their stuff. Green apple, fresh Colorado Palisade Peaches and asian pear mark the spot.
There’s more laser sharp precision here as with the others above, and that keeps the flavors feeling fresh almost as if the grapes were just picked.
Mionetto was establish in 1887 in the heart of DOCG Valdobbiandene Conegliano, in the province of Treviso. Try saying that ten times fast. Try saying it ten times with a mouthful of this wine and see what happens.
If you try this one please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
These are my picks, but everyone has their own. I asked two Master Sommeliers on Twitter what their favorite were. Drew Hendricks, MS says he likes Benoit Ente Cremant de Bourgogne and Laura DePasquale, MS picked Lunetta Prosecco. Please share your favorites in the comments. Cheers!