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Tis the season to sparkle

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The holiday season is in full swing now and many Valley residents are planning their holiday parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations. For many, this means the annual purchase of Champagne and Sparkling Wine from around the world.

Most Americans only buy the bubbly around holiday time or other major celebrations, which means we are less informed and comfortable while selecting bubbly. I’m hopeful this guide will assist readers in purchasing this season’s bubbly selections.

Let’s start with the basics: A wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the small region east of Paris centered between the cities of Rheims and Epernay. The Champagne industry has 300 “Houses” and 100’s of Co-ops responsible for producing 306 million bottles annually.

Champagne is typically a blend of three grape varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The grapes are grown in a chalky soil, which helps give Champagne its distinctive flavor. If you walk through a Champagne vineyard, you will likely find some of this chalk clinging to your shoes.

Great Britain is the leading importer of Champagne, buying 31,189,753 bottles in 2016. The US is second with imports of 21,805,677 followed by Germany, Japan and Belgium. Worldwide exports totaled over 148 million bottles in 2016.

Statistically, Champagne only accounts for percent of worldwide sparkling wine consumption and 4 percent of France’s total wine production. The impact of this premium bubbly has been felt around the world for centuries as leaders in art, politics, business, and entertainment covet Champagne for their enjoyment.

Though Champagne is usually foremost on the minds of bubbly fans, there is a lot of sparkling wine produced and enjoyed around the world. The US has more than 100 sparkling wineries in California with additional production in Oregon and Washington.

Many of the premium domestic sparkling wineries were founded and are still owned by France’s Champagne houses. Most of these wineries follow the French production “method,” a set of centuries old rules to insure quality and consistency in the production of the bubbly.

Italy and Spain also account for significant bubbly production. Italian Prosecco and Moscato have soared in popularity recently. Prosecco is a light, crisp, dry sparkling wine, while Moscato provides something for those who like bubbly a little sweeter. Spanish Cava is an easy-drinking and refreshing option for those seeking something different.

Here’s a look at some bubbly selections for your holiday enjoyment:

Champagne

NV Perrier Jouet Grand Brut $40

Delightfully bright and enticing with tantalizing acidity and fantastic complexity

NV G.H. Mumm Grand Cordon $35

A more masculine expression with flavors of red fruits and fresh-baked bread providing great depth

United States - California

2014 Schramsberg Blanc De Blanc $30

Comprised of 100% chardonnay, very fresh and lively with citrus and orchard fruit flavors

NV Scharffenberger Rose’$25

Beautiful pink color in the glass with decadent raspberry and pomegranate notes

Italy

Zonin Prosecco $15

One of the oldest and most esteemed Prosecco producers. Bright and clean with citrus and tropical notes.

Riondo Prosecco $12

Fruit forward with flavors of golden delicious apple and pear. Can also be enjoyed in a variety of fun cocktails

I hope this article is a useful tool for your holiday plans. I hope all of the Drinks readers enjoy a joyful holiday season and prosperous New Year!