Allez Les Bulles!

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Inevitably, there comes a time in the summer when we find ourselves gazing longingly at our non-Champagne sparkling wine selection, possessed by an epic thirst only quenched by refreshing bubbles. As die-hard lovers of Champagne, it took a bit of a paradigm shift to bring us to reveling in méthode ancestrale or Pétillant Naturel (Pet-Nat) sparkling wines. (Well, some of us have always loved Pet-Nat; others are more grudgingly convinced.) Without delving too deeply into the intricacies of winemaking, the differences between the two types of wine are as follows: Champagne is – first and foremost – a region with its own distinct and impressive terroir, but Champagne also gives its name to a method of sparkling winemaking according to which a small amount of yeast and sugar is introduced into the bottle to create bubbles. Méthode Ancestrale sparkling wines, on the other hand, are bottled before the first fermentation is finished; their bubbles come from trapped carbonic gas, which is a byproduct of the fermentation process. Both styles have copious charms! There’s a certain precision and consistency to Champagne Method sparkling wines. Also the process is typically longer and slower, which aids in the development of refined and creamy bubbles. On the other hand (and this is certainly why Pet-Nat is popular amongst natural winemakers), with carbonic gas offering its preservative effect to the wine, Pet-Nats are generally made without added sulfur. And it seems to us that many producers of Pet-Nat have cleaned up their act over the past few years, resulting in an abundance of clean, natural fizz. Thorough investigation of the style (read: we’ve been drinking as much Pet-Nat as we can get our hands on) has revealed that Pet-Nats have attractions all their own: frothy, soft, almost beer-like bubbles, and an ease on the palate that works well for casual summer drinking.

I guess what we’re saying is that there’s never been a better time to do a little investigation of your own. Our sparkling wine shelf is overflowing with both Champagne method and méthode ancestrale wines, with none exceeding about $30. We’ll draw your attention to Belluard’s non-vintage Ayze from the Haut-Savoie (Champagne method), Puzelat-Bonhomme’s Vin Pétillant of Cabernet Franc (Pet-Nat), Andi Knauss’s brilliant, bone-dry Sekt (Champagne method), and the list goes on. And as always, if you’re in need of recommendations or you’d like to try a mixed case or a six-pack, don’t hesitate to ask. Santé! -Sophie    

Belluard NV Ayse Vin de Savoie Les Perles du Mont Blanc

Les Perles du Mont Blanc is made from the Belluard's biodynamically planted Gringet in the alpine village of Ayse. Fermentation for the base wine is done with indigenous yeast; the second with Champagne yeast and there is no dosage added, making for an exquisitely dry wine with fascinating complexity. The autumnal aromas of  pine forest, baking spice, and toasted hazelnuts give a festive quality to this wine. On the palate it is rich, with creamy flavors of bosc pear, wildflower honey, nutmeg and green apple. The invigorating acidity makes this a very versatile, food-friendly wine to pair with roasted fennel, sausage, or cheese. Amanda Bowman

  • white sparkling
  • 8 in stock
  • no discount
  • $24.99

  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur
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Saint Pierre NV Vin de Table Canon à Bulles

This is an ever-so-slightly sweet, naturally made sparkling wine based on the Poulsard grape variety. We find that it's quite a pure expression of Poulsard with notes of tart cranberry, sour cherry, sumac, and pomegranate smashed in earth. The wine's sweetness is well-balanced by brisk, Jurassian acidity, and should its bubbles dissipate before you're through with your glass, no fear! It's lovely as a still wine. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • red sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $22.99

Les Capriades NV Vin de France Méthode Ancestrale Pet'Sec

This Pet’Sec (méthode ancestrale) wine from Pascal Potaire is the perfect companion to your Thanksgiving festivities. Whether you will drink it as an apéritif or throughout your meal, you will find this Touraine sparkling wine to be delicious and refreshing. Made mostly from Chenin Blanc with an additional 18 months spent on lees, this natural sparkling dry wine showcases a beautiful structure of finesse and elegance. Its brininess and limestone mineral notes will open your appetite. Its superb acidity with its beautiful bouquet of lemon, green apple skin and light herbal notes will enhance your turkey or glazed ham dishes. With a great finish and long lasting notes, this wine will not disappoint. Caroline Coursant

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Les Capriades NV Vin de France Piège à Filles Blanc 1.5 L

This 100% Chardonnay Pet-Nat is squeaky clean, lightly sweet (6-7 grams residual sugar), high-acid, and has very fine bubbles, making it an ideal apéritif...and in large format to boot...the perfect size for two people (if one of them doesn't drink)! MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $74.99

Saumon, Frantz NV Vin de France La Cave se Rebiffe Rosé

This is my favorite incarnation of this wine to date! La Cave se Rebiffe is a crisp and refreshing Pétillant Naturel (the second fermentation occurs spontaneously in the bottle) made of Cot, Gamay, and Grolleau from vineyards in Montlouis. A beautiful rosy hue in the glass, the wine is peppery, fruity, and herbal on the nose with notes of raspberry seed, white pepper, and ripe strawberry. On the palate, the wine is clean and balanced with perhaps just a touch of sweetness to balance its ravishing acidity, and delicate, frothy bubbles. Like all of Saumon's wines, it's pretty, with lovely balance - more elegant and serious than your average vin de soif. Tim Gagnon   

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Saumon, Frantz NV Vin de France La Petite Gaule du Matin

Franz Saumon's Petite Gaule du Matin is an easygoing Méthode Ancestrale sparkling wine from the Loire Valley.. an instant classic in the world of Pet Nats (Petillant Naturel). This time around, the blend is Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. Dry, ridiculously refreshing, and life-affirming!

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $23.99

Pithon-Paille 2010 Cremant de Loire Brut de Chenin

Jo Pithon sources the grapes for this lovely Crémant from an organic vineyard in Saumur — the juice is from 2010 with a dosage of unfermented 2011 Chenin from the same vineyard. A full-bodied Cremant, the wine shows characteristic honey and savory herbs such as thyme and rosemary on the nose with white flowers and yellow stone fruits. Mellow, balanced, and quite dry, especially for Cremants based on Chenin, the wine is delicious on its and with food. It's clean and even more expressive on day two. DL/MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

Puzelat-Bonhomme 2012 Vin Petillant de France Cabernet Franc Rosé

Petillant Naturel from 2012 made with Cabernet Franc "non dosé," having a lovely orange/salmon color and a light sparkle with pretty red-currant, blood orange and peach aromas. Slightly demi-sec, the palate continues with lovely red and yellow fruits, a bit of spice and a surprising long lingering finish. In other words, this wine is really yummy and much too easy to drink. Probably no SO2 and a little bit of RS, so consuming the bottle in one day is happily advised. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $20.99

Courault, Benoit 2013 Vin de France Petillant Nature "Eglantine"

A very dark colored rosé of Cabernet Franc and Grolleau with just a hint of residual sugar, this wine began life as a still red wine, and then decided it preferred to create its own destiny as a Pétillant Naturel. The nose is peppery and funky with hints of raspberry, raspberry seed, and dark cherry. The palate is very lightly sweet and lightly tannic. We love this bottle, and think it's a fine choice for summer quaffing, especially for lovers of Lambrusco and the like. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

Knauss 2012 Württemberg Riesling Sekt Zero

This dry, zero-dosage Sekt is sourced from twelve plots of Knauss' Riesling vines of 15-30 years-old grown on a thin, clay topsoil that barely covers the underlying limestone. And the limestone, of course, is what really comes through: like a 18-wheeler barreling down the highway, in fact. Delicious aromas of fresh apricots and nectarines, a zippy, limey, backbone, and an underlying body with chalky texture adds depth, length, and quite a bit of soul. Vibrant, refreshing, and wonderful. Jonathan Kemp

UPDATED 4/20/15: The current bottling is from a June 2014 disgorgement. More leesy and opulent than before, it still keeps the bracing acidic structure and squeaky-clean finish, but there is more complexity. Bone dry at 1-2 g/l of residual sugar. Really fantastic! Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Giol 2012 Prosecco Sur Lie (organic, no so2)

We are crazy for the amazing Proseccos from Casa Coste Piane and Costadilà — wines made by the very old school method of a second fermentation in the bottle. Conventional Prosecco is made by adding CO2 gas in a pressurized tank. The results can be very tasty, but we do love the good fermented-in-the-bottle versions, since the process yields a finer bubble, and a lot more complexity and flavor. Thus we are delighted with the Giol Prosecco —  the price would be enough to make us happy. It’s a bit fresher and a bit lighter than the two mentioned above, but this isn’t a bad thing at all — it’s nice to have an easy going wine that is also pretty serious. JW

 

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $14.99