The Other Champagne

I'll take any excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbles. A birthday, an engagement, New Years Eve, Manatee Appreciation DayPecan Day...all great options. It's really quite easy to find a reason to drink sparkling wine if you get a little creative. I do, however, appreciate the manatees. Tomorrow is actually National Make Your Own Holiday Day, so if manatees and pecans don't get you going, maybe wait until Thursday to drink your bubbles. Let's focus on the bubbles though. When you think of sparkling wine, you most likely think of Champagne. Am I right?! And for good reason, it's the crème de la crème of sparkling wines. Although some use the term Champagne as more of a general term for all sparkling wines, technically Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region in France and is produced following specific rules of the appellation. We will talk more about in the next few weeks when we dive into France. 

Although Champagne produces the most well known and some of the best sparkling wines on the market, you might be surprised to learn that sparkling wine is produced in the majority of wine making regions around the world. Today I want to introduce three fantastic and affordable sparkling wines that share similar characteristics to Champagne but might not be the typical bottle you'd choose from the shelf. 

1. Peri 46 Talento Brut Millesimato- This is an Italian sparkling wine from the Lombardy region of Italy. It is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. The interesting thing about this wine is that although it's an Italian wine, it is produced like a traditional Champagne, using the 'méthode traditionnelle' where the wine undergoes its secondary fermentation in the bottle. This wine will have the richness and creaminess of a Champagne with hints of toast, nuts and dried stone fruits on the palate. 

This would be a great wine with which to start a meal or a cocktail party. It would go well with shellfish, smoked salmon, caviar or any raw fish starter like a ceviche. It would also be great with a fruit based dessert like a pear apple crisp or lemon soufflé. Speaking of soufflé, this would also be an awesome accompaniment to a cheese soufflé. I'm starving. 

This wine can be found at Bond Street Wines for $29. 

2. Barboursville Brut Rosé Cuvée 1814- I'm not just saying this because I'm from Virginia, but Virginia has some fantastic wines and I'm a proud supporter of them. This is what I like to call 'Sissy Wine' because it's bubbly, it's pink, it's delicious and I like to drink it with my Sissy. I'm not asking for much here.

Barboursville is a winery outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is best known for its Octagon Red Blend, however, they have a fairly vast selection of excellent wines. I'm clearly partial to the Brut Rosé Cuvée. It is produced using 100% Pinot Noir grapes using the 'méthode traditionnelle.' It's very dry with lot's of the traditional strawberry fruit flavors you'd expect from a rosé. It also has some floral notes, particularly rose petal and violet, that make it super smooth and elegant on the palate. 

I would drink this with a creamy cheese or blue cheese. It would also go well risotto, roasted chicken and pork. If you wanted to drink this wine with dessert I would pair it with dark chocolate and some sort of berry. 

This wine can be purchased directly from Barboursville for $24.99.

3. Eudald Massana Noya Cava Brut Familia NV- Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen (DO) status produced primarily in Catalonia. Similar to the previous two wines we've discussed, Cava is produced using the 'méthode traditionnelle.' This particular Cava is a combination of the grapes Macabeu, Xarello and Parellada, a very traditional grape combination for Cava. The vineyard is located in the Penedès region of Catalonia, which is responsible for about 95% of Cava production. 

The producer, Eudald Massana Noya, uses organic and biodynamic farming methods and treats each vineyard on an individual basis so as to highlight the unique characteristics of the soil and land. The land is comprised of 30 hectares in 31 different plots. Because of the unique position in which the land is situated, it is influenced by the Mediterranean breeze, the Montserrat, the Ordal foothills and the plains of the Penedès. All of these factors have a tremendous impact on the character and quality of the wines. 

This Cava is dry and elegant with notes of toast and yeast as well as hints of lemon, citrus and minerality. The wine has good acidity and a somewhat creamy feel to the palate. At $15.99 it's a really fantastic value. Pair this with cured meats and creamy cheese, fried or raw oysters, patatas bravas, gazpacho, any grilled light white fish, chicken, duck or pork dishes, or of course you can enjoy it on it's own! 

This wine is available at Barrel Thief in Richmond for $15.99.

All three of these wines are great to keep in mind for the upcoming Easter weekend whether you're hosting or in the market for a hostess gift. Stay tuned for next weeks Wine Wednesday where I'll be talking about Easter brunch food and wine pairings. Happy tasting!