Sparkling Wines for Valentine's Day and Beyond

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Legend has it that Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony gave Cleopatra wineskins and jars filled with sweet and frothy red wine that was thought to be an aphrodisiac. Whatever your romantic intentions are for Saturday night, every occasion is more festive with bubbles. Below are some of our favorites (with a few food pairing suggestions) that you can enjoy drinking anytime, on Valentine's Day and beyond. Christine Manula

Laherte Frères NV Champagne Brut Ultradition .375 ml

60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay that doesn't go through malolactic fermentation, along with 10% Pinot Noir. There is a delicate red fruit quality — pale plums — but otherwise the high-toned Chardonnay comes through with a delightful lemon tone. Earthy salinity and minerals lead to a dry, mouth-watering finish. A large percentage of Meunier gives this Champagne a broad, rich, earthy character that matches very well with Beau Soleil oysters and Caviar. MSB

  • white sparkling
  • 8 in stock
  • no discount
  • $23.99

  • Organic

Beaufort, André NV Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé (Disg 10/16)

This full-bodied and robust Rosé Champagne is expressive of Pinot Noir character as well as natural and chemical-free winemaking, a rare combination, especially in Champagne. The nose offers ripe sour cherry, cherry pit, quinine, almost Burgundian earthiness, and an ever so slight note of bitter herbs reminiscent of amaro. Cherry fruit carries through the mid-palate to the finish, which is downright tannic, in the best possible way. There is some dosage here, giving the wine a compelling balance of acid and sweetness. It's a fairly serious Rosé Champagne, one that could accompany a meal, but it doesn't present itself as austere in any way. Unique within our selection of Rosé Champagnes and well-worth trying. (Lot 11A. Disgorged 10/2016.)

  • rosé sparkling
  • 1 in stock
  • no discount
  • $57.99

  • Organic

Bianco, Marco 2011 Moscato d'Asti "Crivella"

Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff

Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin

  • white sparkling off-dry
  • 2 in stock
  • no discount
  • $44.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Vignes du Maynes 2002 Crémant de Bourgogne Ste. Geneviève Ex Brut

Nine years on the lees! We are surprised and delighted at how Champagne-like this wine is, while retaining rich, generous, earthy Mâcon character. On the nose it shows umami notes: oyster mushroom, and a toasty, very lightly oxidative nuttiness. The palate is quite round and supple and the wine has clearly fleshed out and broadened with time the way that long lees-aged Champagnes do. The bubbles are lively and present. Given the prices of 2002 vintage Champagnes, we'd say this is a superb value! -msb 

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $29.99

  • Biodynamic

Bodines NV Arbois Crémant du Jura

Alexis and his wife, Emilie, farm less than four hectares on the outskirts of Arbois. This is the first time we have had the opportunity to work with their Crémant and we love it! Made using the Champagne Method, it is composed of Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard. Very pretty on the nose – strawberry seeds, ripe red raspberry, orange blossom and even exotic notes of cantaloupe. It has nice weight on the palate, with savory and herbal notes balancing out lush fruit and a pleasant frothiness. Definitely minerals and structure here. This would be great as a late afternoon apero and can definitely hold its own at the dinner table! Tim Gagnon

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

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Gatinois 2008 Grand Cru Brut

The case for Champagne as a terroir driven region is not complete without mention of the Petit Pinot d’Aÿ, historically renowned as one of the finest expressions of pinot noir at a time when the Champenois grew predominantly still wines. Tradition, restraint, and breeding shine through in this amber-hued, finely beaded vintage Champagne. The nose is expressive and complex with wild strawberries, Montmorency cherries, and pecans wrapped in more subtle aromas of cinnamon, fresh cream, and pastry dough. The palate begins with a seamless opening that quickly crests into a burst of candied red currants, licorice, ripe melon, and toffee.  A Champagne capable of banishing winter and placing you in a immaculately tended summer garden, where it will pair nicely with roasted hen, pheasant, suckling pig, short ribs or a freshly whipped dark chocolate mousse. David Salinas

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

Laherte Frères NV Champagne Chavot Brut Rosé Ultradition OLD

Delicate, high-toned cherry fruit, subtle mousse notes of lemon peel and vermouth. Brisk with striking acidity and balanced tension, the wine has, nevertheless, a core of sweet, red fruit that makes it one of the more accessible in the lineup from Laherte. Laherte's wines across the board are high-acid with fresh mouth-watering finishes. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $46.99

  • Organic

Raventós I Blanc 2012 Conca del Riu Anoia L'Hereu de Nit Reserva Rosé

Raventós' de Nit sparkling rose was the first wine to fall under the new Conca del Riu Anoia designation, created in an effort to promote and prioritize biodynamic farming, estate fruit, lengthier elevage, and indigenous varieties in Cava country. The 2012 vintage is bright, spicy, and equally delicious served before or during your feast. Zesty aromas of citrus, red berries, and cranberry with a fresh, elegant, medium-bodied palate of strawberry, lemon zest, clementines, and raspberry. Elegant and affordable, it is perfect for a fresh and fabulous aperitif or after a meal with a lemon or raspberry tart or sorbet. Ariana Rolich

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

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Bermejos 2013 Lanzarote Espumoso Listán Negro Rosado

There may be no greater and geekier pleasure for the Canary Islands fanatic or adventurous drinker than this: Champagne Method sparkling Listan Negro from the eastern-most, oldest, ash-coated Canary island of Lanzarote! In order to contend with the relentless trade winds that sweep the island, vines must be planted at the bottom of volcanic fissures and craters rimmed by stone walls (usually with just one vine at the bottom of each). Yields are insanely low and highlight the devotion of Lanzarote's inhabitants to producing local wines despite the extreme effort required. This wine is complex, fresh, and  fascinating, with tart, crisp cranberry and pink grapefruit, dusty mineral ash, tomato water, and a mood-lifting fizz. I love this wine alongside cured meats and fishes, as well as braised red cabbage and roasted chicken or pork. Ariana Rolich

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

  • Low Sulfur

Suriol 2010 Penedès Cava Brut Nature

There is nothing more deliciously redolent of the sea than clams! I sautee shallots, thyme, garlic, and pancetta (or chorizo for spice) then add equal parts wheat beer and white wine and bring to a gentle boil. Add the clams, stir them about, then pull them out one-by-one as they open. Reduce the broth for a minute or two and pour it over the clams. Top with chopped fresh parsley or microgreens. This bone-dry, certified organic Cava with age from Suriol is a flavorful and similarly terroir-assertive match for this meal. Scents of golden apple, clover honey, orange blossom, and almond oil carry through to a rich, tangy, lightly oxidative palate of stone fruit, Asian pear, lemon zest, and marzipan, with a hint of ginger and yeasty brioche. Zero dosage and a nice bit of age make for a fresh and dry but terrifically substantial and sophisticated wine in the $15-20 price range. It is also amazing at brunch with Captain Alex's smoked bluefish, which I pull apart with my fingers and drizzle with a dressing of great olive oil, plain yogurt, lemon, and fresh chives or dill. Garnish with a sliced hard boiled egg. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Scholium Project 2014 Blowout California Sparkling Wine

Calling all futuristic lovers! Scholium Project's inventive and inexhaustable philosopher/winemaker Abe Schoener has enjoyed a long history with the Lost Slough Vineyard in California's Sacramento River Valley, a site he considers undistinguished but whose grapes yield unusually good wine from Verdelho (for some of his most popular bottlings). Blowout is Scholium's first sparkling wine, made from 80% Verdelho and 20% Gruner Veltliner from Lost Slough. In Abe's words: "The wine is born out of a desire for speed--for immediate gratification. It is a sparkling wine based not on the time-consuming and deferral-demanding Methode Traditionel of secondary fermentation in bottle, but on the method of immediate bubble-inducing that we call the METHODE FUTURISTE. Yes. This is a carbonated wine." And it is delicious! Generous citrus and green apple fruit, with mouth-watering bubbles and a hint of salt make it an excellent pairing for a crunchy salad course, sushi, or cheese. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

Giol 2013 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. Jamie Wolff

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

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Casa Coste Piane 2013 Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Frizzante Sur Lie

So far we know of a couple of other Prosecco producers who uses indigenous yeast fermentations. You might not think that this makes a big difference, but I promise that if you spend a concentrated period tasting all of the prosecco on the market, you'll agree it does. There are some other good wines, but in the end none achieve the purity and effortless complexity of the Coste Piane. Organic farming and winemaking practices help as well to yield a really dynamic wine that sustains interest over a long period — most recently put to the test at a long dinner where we drank this prosecco over 3 courses and found that it stayed vibrant and compelling, as well as a very versatile food match. The problem with the wine is that we are now ruined for all other Prosecco... Jamie Wolff

In the glass the wine is like dry lemonade with hints of flowers and a refreshing bead. The minerality and acid are simply bracing. The primary fermentation occurs spontaneously, and the second fermentation occurs “Methode Ancestrale” in bottle. There is no disgorgement, so the lees are present in the bottom of the bottle. John Rankin

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Rovero 2013 Brachetto d'Asti

Brachetto is a local red grape in the area around Asti in Piedmont, and its best expression is in making a lightly sweet and fruity sparkling wine, that’s much more delicate and easy-drinking than say, Lambrusco, which of course is much more famous. We love Rovero’s Brachetto, which has plenty of flavor intensity without feeling strained or over-extracted. It has lovely aromas of raspberry, cranberry, and baking spices; unlike most Brachetto it actually has some complexity. It’s one of those wines that will disappear from your glass before you know it. This wine will enable you to treat guests who think they only like sweeter wines to something new and delicious, but something you can enjoy too. Jamie Wolff

  • Out of Stock
  • red off-dry sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Bianco, Marco 2013 Moscato d'Asti "Belb"

John Rankin and I were tasting at VinItaly — all day, dozens of wines, fighting the crowds... it’s harder work than you might think, and finding exciting wine is a needle-in-haystack operation. In the end, one of the real highlights was this wine — pure, clean, rich but fresh, with lovely aromatics of peach and apricot, and layers of fruit flavors.  It’s quite light in body and has fairly intense fizz, which keeps it lively on the palate. We think this is a great addition to our stock — it so far outperforms the standard (and at a very fair price) that we really hope you will try it. Jamie Wolff

*The photo shows Moscato grapes just before harvest at Marco Bianco, September 2013

Many of us cringe at the saccharine overload of dessert with dessert wine, but Moscato d'Asti's vibrant acid and cleansing bubbles make this wine a refreshing pair to pies, cakes and fresh fruit desserts. John Rankin

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $16.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

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

Hild NV Mosel Elbling Brut Sekt

The Elbling grape has been grown in Europe for centuries; at one time widely-planted in the Upper Mosel, in more recent decades it has been devalued due to a lack of quality seen in its usage for bulk wines from co-ops. The Hild family has chosen to grow Elbling with care and focus, and are working towards organic certification. Soils in the Upper Mosel are more limestone than slate, due to the swath of the Paris Basin that extends into the region. The chalkiness comes through in this Méthode Champenoise sparkling Elbling, aged in stainless steel, spending nine months on the lees. Bright acidity and ripe, juicy pineapple make for a charming and refreshing bubbly for under $20. Cari Bernard

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $18.99