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Seattleites, turn on Q13 News at 5:30pm today when I’ll be talking about sparkling wines.

Well folks, 2011 is fast coming to a close, so it’s time to turn our attention to sparkling wines to help ring in the New Year.

Let me start by saying that if you’re not drinking sparkling wines year round, make this a New Year’s resolution. These wines are not just for special occasions. Imagine if people thought it was only appropriate to drink Cabernet on Valentine’s Day.

Selecting sparkling wines can sometimes be challenging. What wine to buy? What style to buy? In terms of style, confusingly, wines labeled as Extra Dry are actually sweeter than Extra Brut and Brut wines. Demi-Sec is sweeter still. Bottom line, if you’re looking for something dry, wines labeled as Extra Brut or Brut are a good way to go (read more about sweetness levels of sparkling wine here).

Below is a list of seventeen sparkling wines across a variety of price points. Because a number of these wines are imported, I have also listed Seattle-area locations where I know these wines have been available in the past. Make sure to call in advance to confirm if you are interested in a specific wine. While I have listed below the larger stores in the Seattle area, any good wine retailer here or in other areas should have a large selection of quality sparkling wines. A few of my favorite local shops are McCarthy & Schiering (Note: There is a sparkling wine tasting at both locations Saturday 1-6), Pike & Western, Bin 41, Vino Verité, and 6th Avenue Wine Sellers which all have good selections.

The belle of the ball below is the 2004 Adam-Jaeger Blanc de Blancs Millesime Champagne. This is a grower Champagne, meaning the wine is made by a family that grows its own grapes. In contrast, the large Champagne houses make their wines from dozens or even hundreds of different vineyards. The Adam-Jaeger is 100% Chardonnay and is also vintage dated. It’s a knock out for this price (this is the wine that I’ll be drinking New Year’s eve).

Note that this wine is only available locally at Fat Cork, a Seattle-based importer/retailer on lower Queen Anne that deals exclusively with grower Champagne. Friend and owner Bryan Maletis is doing a great job at this new company, offering a variety of wines across a range of price points.

I was also particularly excited about the Drappier Brut Champagne Carte d'Or. Notably, this wine was originally listed at $49 but currently has a retail price around town of $35 or less. $35 for high quality Champagne? Yes please. I was also struck by the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence from California, which is a superb deal for $19.

Leave comments below on what wines you’re planning to open to celebrate the New Year or if you know of other locations where these particular wines are available. Whatever you do, I wish everyone a happy and safe start to 2012.

Adam-Jaeger Blanc de Blancs Millesime Champagne 2004 $55

Rating: ** (Exceptional) An arresting, complex wine with pear, apple, and abundant autolytic notes. The palate is lively, stretching out from end to end with a creamy feel and bright acidity. A long, lingering finish. Among the more compelling wines I’ve had in 2011. 100% Chardonnay.
Where: Fat Cork, a grower Champagne dedicated retailer on lower Queen Anne, Seattle


Drappier Brut Champagne Carte d'Or NV $49

Rating: ** (Exceptional) An aromatic wine full of brioche and raspberries. The palate is dry with a creamy feel, full of evolving flavors of raspberries and lemon. An extended finish. Retail is listed at $49 but currently being sold around town for a non-sale price of $35, which is a steal.
Where: Wine World Warehouse, Pete’s Wine Shop, Esquin


P Louis Martin Brut Champagne Bouzy NV $35

Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Aromas of fresh baked bread, strawberry, and green apple. The palate is rich and flavorful – this is a red wine drinkers Champagne if ever there were one. Capped off by a long finish.
Where: Wine World Warehouse, Pete’s Wine Shop


Colin Cuvee Alliance Champagne NV $35

Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with spice, baked bread, yeast, and raspberries. The palate is dry with a creamy mouthfeel and a long, apple filled finish.
Where: Wine World Warehouse
, McCarthy & Schiering

Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe Columbia Valley 2005 $23

Rating: * (Excellent) A bright, crisp wine with pear, flint, lemon, and lime. The palate is dry and crisp with a lemon-filled finish. 100% Chardonnay. 11% alcohol. 2,184 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Duval Leroy Brut Champagne Cuvee Paris 2006 $50

Rating: * (Excellent) A classically styled Champagne with light autolytic notes, apple, and cream. The palate is light, crisp, and clean with a creamy, lingering finish. 5,000 cases produced.
Where: Wine World Warehouse


Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne NV $45

Rating: * (Excellent) A classically styled Champagne with appealing, delicate aromas of yeast, apple, and almond. The palate is silky and bone dry with fine bubbles.
Where: Wine World Warehouse, Pete’s Wine Shop, Esquin


Piper-Heidsieck Brut Cuvee Champagne NV $45

Rating: * (Excellent) Abundant leesy and toasty aromas along with almond, baked bread, and citrus on an aromatically appealing wine. The palate is light, dry, crisp, and refreshing. 50,000 cases produced.
Where: Wine World Warehouse, numerous other locations


Scharffenberger Brut Excellence Mendocino California NV $19

Rating: * (Excellent) Appealing aromatics of yeast, lemon, apples, and raspberries. On the palate the wine has a weighted, textured feel with fine grained bubbles. Finishes tart and dry. A superb wine for this price point. 66% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Noir. 12% alcohol. 1.0% Residual Sugar. 25,000 cases produced.
Where: Wine World Warehouse, Pete’s Wine Shop, numerous other locations


Nicolas Feuillatte ‘Blue Label’ Brut Reserve Particuliere Champagne NV $36

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) An aromatic sparkling wine full of lees notes and green apple. The palate is light, crisp, and spritely with a clean, dry finish. An enjoyable Champagne at a very reasonable price point, especially when found on sale.
Where: Wine World Warehouse, Pete’s Wine Shop, Esquin


Argyle Brut Wine Willamette Valley 2007 $27

Rating: + (Good) A tart, very dry wine full of green apple and lime aromas and flavors. Finishes a bit short. 63% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir. Knudsen and Lonestar vineyards. 12.5% alcohol. 1.5% Residual Sugar. 11,620 cases produced.
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $12

Rating: + (Good) Pleasing aromas of green apple, lime, and autolytic notes. The palate is just off dry with crisp citrus flavors. 12.1% alcohol. 1.19% Residual Sugar. 191,540 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended Reviewed November 21, 2011
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rose Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $12
Rating: + (Good) Pale salmon colored. A light floral note along with lemon, raspberry, and green apple. The palate is crisp, dry, and refreshing with tart with lemon and apple flavors. 100% Pinot Noir. 12% alcohol. 1.15% Residual Sugar. 20,081 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended Reviewed December 6, 2011
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $12

Rating: + (Good) Very lightly aromatic with pear, apple skin, and lime notes. The palate is fresh and clean, quite dry and full of apple flavors. 11.5% alcohol. 1.05% Residual Sugar. 32,640 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 6, 2011
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $12
Rating: + (Good) An enjoyable wine full of pear and tropical fruit notes. The sweetest of the Domaine Ste. Michelle offerings, this wine steps just one toe over the line in terms of sweetness based on its acidity. 12.0% alcohol. 2.3% Residual Sugar. 51,919 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 6, 2011
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose Cremant d’Alsace France NV $23

Rating: + (Good) An enjoyable, everyday sparkling wine that can frequently be found on sale in grocery stores, this wine brings sweet raspberries and strawberry aromas and flavors. The palate is dry, crisp, and light bodied. Note that I’m listing this wine as recommended as I always see it for a sub $20 price. At $23, I would pass. 100% Pinot Noir. 8,000 cases imported. Recommended
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.


Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs Select Cuvée Sonoma County NV $20

Rating: + (Good) A fairly aromatic sparkler that is absolutely loaded with green apple fruit and skin aromas and flavors. Finishes tart and slightly sweet. 95% Chardonnay, 5% others. Aged on lees at least 16 months. 30,500 cases produced.
Where: Numerous locations including some grocery stores.

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5 comments

  1. I could not agree more that sparkling wine is a year-round drink. I happen to be a blanc de blanc fan so I am planning on opening a NV Jose Dhondt B de B and a 1997 Ployez Jacquemart B de B. All the best for 2012!

     
  2. Great post, Sean! Thank you for breaking outside the lines of the great WA wines to highlight some Champagne and other sparkling wines. We appreciate your enthusiasm here at Fat Cork and we will be raising a glass of Champagne to you tonight!

    And to the readers; if you're not going out to a party on NYE, our favorite thing to do is: get a great bottle of Champagne, some take-home sushi, and rent a movie. Cheers!

     
  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. Shame that there isn't any Treveri listed here. One of the northwests leading, and up and coming, sparkling houses! Great value at Treveri as well!

    Other than that, this is a very nice list of bubbles!

     
  5. Thomas G Says:
  6. I’ve learned a lot from your blog here! Keep on going, my friend, I will keep an eye on it.

     
  7. Anon, thanks for mentioning Treveri. I reviewed their Gewurz a while back which I enjoyed quite a bit, but I didn't think it was quite right for New Years - perhaps I'm just a traditionalist! I also recently had their sparkling syrah in a non-evaluative setting that I thought was very enjoyable (and I should add that I was a bit skeptical going into it). I haven't had the other wines in their lineup unfortunately but they have been making some waves of late.

    Thomas G, thanks for the kind works! Have a good start to 2012.

     

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