Posted: August 06, 2009
Working in the office next to the Binny's sparkling wine buyer affords me the opportunity to taste a lot of outstanding Champagne. But then, you have to expect Champagne to be good, right? I mean, it's Champagne! Right? What's more exciting is tasting sparkling wine from somewhere else in the world, something with nuance and complexity, and then realizing that it sells for a fraction of the price of Champagne. Here are a few bubblies from other parts of the world that caught my attention recently as especially great values. One consistent source of value bubbly is the rest of France, the parts that aren't Champagne. Binny's just picked up the Baur Cremant d'Alsace Rose, a 100% pinot noir sparkler from Alsace (we've carried the Baur Brut for a while - it's another good one). This bone-dry rose is angular and lean, with hints of mustiness on the nose, leading to a palate of strawberries, light minerality and angular acidity. Also a great value from France, the Berthenet Cremant de Bourgogne is 100% Chardonnay from Burgundy. Yeasty and bready on the nose, it offers complex layers of fruit, fading from pear to lime, with a bit of baking spice on the finish. A pleasant sparkling surprise was the Miolo Brut. This one is from Brazil one a handful of wines that we carry at Binny's from Brazil and is a blend of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir. With honey and dried apricots on the nose, this delicious and weighty sparkling wine has expressions of spice, caramel, light peach and apricot, and a touch of residual sugar (it seems) that comes across in the toasty finish. This is a great sparkling wine for under $15. I usually balk at recommending Italian prosecco I've had so many that are thin and shrill, and though they are much less expensive than Champagne, they often taste like it. That's why I was surprised when I tasted the Clara C Fiori di Prosecco. It's an extra-dry with a clean nose showing peaches and a touch of vanilla. The small amount of residual sugar gives it a good, broad mouthfeel, and comes across in loads of tart green apple, plus there's a green herbal undercurrent. This is a fantastic sparkling wine for the price, and a great example of prosecco. Of course, these few suggestions aren't even close to an exhaustive list of value sparkling wines out there. What are your favorites?