Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, the name Champagne will always be in the back of our minds, ingrained in our collective memories and triggering that Pavlov reflex when we yearn for the ultimate luxury of cold, crisp, ephemeral and elegant bubbles that only a Sparkling Wine can provide.

However, the offering beyond the universe of Champagne is vast and flexible when it comes to the many different quality productions of sparkling, the geographic diversity and the consumers’ pocket sizes.   

Here is a good choice of price-conscious, elegant Champagne stand-ins; from yeasty and fragrant sparklings from Sonoma, CA; silky crémants from Burgundy, fresh fall apple-tasting crémants d’Alsace; or crisp and fresh proseccos from Italy, all in the $ 30 to $15 range.  They are all energizing and enjoyable as aperitifs and stand up well to an entire meal, holiday or not. Cheers

  

Valdo Oro Puro, DOCG, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy  ($14.00)  

Freshness, with a spicy thread of ground ginger, cardamom and balsamic weaving through tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine, white peach and a delicate almond note typical to Prosecco is what you will get from this well-balanced straw yellow Prosecco with a fine perlage, a frothy mousse and a floral finish.   A good pairing with starters, with delicately flavored dishes and seafood.

zonin

Zonin Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy      ($15 - $18)

A delightful fresh, fruity and aromatic nose, with hints of white peach, mineral and honeysuckle characterizes Zonin’s Proseccos —   Zonin also makes a popular "Special Cuvee". The straw yellow sparkling has a fine and creamy froth. It is dry  with soft tropical fruit and honeyed apple flavors melding with a pleasantly nutty background. The finish is long and softly complex. A Well-balanced wine made with 100% Prosecco or Glera grapes is ideal as an aperitif or throughout  a meal.  

 

 

Berlucchi Cuvée '61 Brut Rosé, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy ($17 - $20)  cuveerosebtl

In the 60’s Franciacorta in Lombardy became Italy’s sparkling wine answer to Champagne.  Berlucchi Cuveé ’61 is definitely a French-inspired sparkling wine, made in Italy and specially marketed in the US.  Made with Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it was fermented 6 months in stainless steel and 12 months in bottle before disgorging. After disgorging, the bottle was aged two more months in the cellar before release.

Pale pink, the wine is full-bodied. Complex, fragrant and lively on the nose with wild red berry fruit and ripe stone fruit with the body, acidity and tannin of Pinot Noir for texture, the Rosé is crisp and rich with elegant bubbles and generous fragrances of apple and pear and notes of tropical fruit and spices. Exceptionally fresh with a velvety texture, well-balanced with a lively froth and elegant bubbles Rosé is festive and drinkable with a broad range of foods.

 

jcb 39JCB No 39 Crémant de Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France (approx $30)  

JCB No. 39 is the quintessential marriage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three renowned appellations in Burgundy: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint –Véran.     And there’s a romantic story behind this refined pale yellow wine in a beautiful black bottle.  The delicate and silky yet bone-dry crémant with whiffs of toast and yeast and fresh aromas of white peaches, crisp apples, with lovely bubbles and a creamy froth, has a long and elegant finish with slight honey citrus notes.  Great on its own, for a toast or an aperitif, it pairs beautifully with food.

Each JCB wine is known by a number. And each number has deep significance for Jean-Charles Boisset, the collection’s creator and namesake.  The year was 1939. Germany had just invaded Poland and France was rallying its troops to come to the aid of their ally. While this world of chaos was unraveling, a young couple had fallen in love.  They married the day before he set out to serve, and although the wait was long and painful, she knew he would return safe one day.  After three adventurous years, he returned home to the loving and faithful arms of his wife and now three-year old daughter, who he was just now meeting for the first time.  The couple is the grandparents of Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates.

 

J Brut Rosé NV, Sonoma CA  ($38)j brut rose_01

The J Brut Rosé in the sexy bottle labeled with a stylized J is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Alexander Valley and Russian Valley in Sonoma, CA where hills and benchlands provide a diversity of soils.  The soft peachy pink color leads to a crisp, dry and mellow wine with a steady stream of fine bubbles, with flavors of red berries, orange, Meyer lemon peel and hints of almond.  It is elegant and lively, perfectly balanced with a lingering finish that makes you yearn for more and more….   

 

j sparkling_sm1J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Sonoma CA  ($28)

This is another hit by J. The pale gold non-vintage J Cuvée 20 gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a hint of vanilla. The mid-palate flavors are interlaced with toast, caramel, warm pear, and almond. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering lush finish. This is the perfect celebratory wine.  

 

 

 

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir, Sonoma ($20)gloria ferrer blanc de noir


Bright strawberry and black cherry aromas with subtle vanilla highlights. Creamy cherry, lemon and cola flavors combine with a lush palate, small, lively bubbles and a persistent finish. Blanc de Noirs is predominantly made from hand-harvested Pinot Noir grapes (90%) , the hallmarks of which are a vibrant red fruit character. The creamy palate and rosy hue are a result of a small addition of Vin Gris, which was blended into the base cuvée.  

 

 

The Love of Sparkling Wines  

 

Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, the name Champagne will always be in the back of our minds, ingrained in our collective memories and triggering that Pavlov reflex when we yearn for the ultimate luxury of cold, crisp, ephemeral and elegant bubbles that only a Sparkling Wine can provide.

However, the offering beyond the universe of Champagne is vast and flexible when it comes to the many different quality productions of sparkling, the geographic diversity and the consumers’ pocket sizes.   

 

Here is a good choice of price-conscious, elegant Champagne stand-ins; from yeasty and fragrant sparklings from Sonoma, CA; silky crémants from Burgundy, fresh fall apple-tasting crémants d’Alsace; or crisp and fresh proseccos from Italy, all in the $ 30 to $15 range.  They are all energizing and enjoyable as aperitifs and stand up well to an entire meal, holiday or not. Cheers

 

Valdo Oro Puro, DOCG, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy  ($14.00)  

Freshness, with a spicy thread of ground ginger, cardamom and balsamic weaving through tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine, white peach and a delicate almond note typical to Prosecco is what you will get from this well-balanced straw yellow Prosecco with a fine perlage, a frothy mousse and a floral finish.  

A good pairing with starters, with delicately flavored dishes and seafood.

Prosecco is a very fast growing sparkling wine category worldwide, and Valdo,  located in the Valdobbiadene area at the foothills of the "pre-alps" around Treviso in the heart of Prosecco DOCG production area, was started in 1926 by the Societa Anonima Vini Superiori and purchased by The Bolla Family in the 1940's.

 

Zonin Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy      ($15 - $18)

A delightful fresh, fruity and aromatic nose, with hints of white peach, mineral and honeysuckle characterizes Zonin’s Proseccos —   Zonin also makes a popular "Special Cuvee". The straw yellow sparkling has a fine and creamy froth. It is dry  with soft tropical fruit and honeyed apple flavors melding with a pleasantly nutty background. The finish is long and softly complex. A Well-balanced wine made with 100% Prosecco or Glera grapes is ideal as an aperitif or throughout  a meal.

 

 

Berlucchi Cuvée '61 Brut Rosé, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy ($17 - $20)  

In the 60’s Franciacorta in Lombardy became Italy’s sparkling wine answer to Champagne.  Berlucchi Cuveé ’61 is definitely a French-inspired sparkling wine, made in Italy and specially marketed in the US.  Made with Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it was fermented 6 months in stainless steel and 12 months in bottle before disgorging. After disgorging, the bottle was aged two more months in the cellar before release.

Pale pink, the wine is full-bodied. Complex, fragrant and lively on the nose with wild red berry fruit and ripe stone fruit with the body, acidity and tannin of Pinot Noir for texture, the Rosé is crisp and rich with elegant bubbles and generous fragrances of apple and pear and notes of tropical fruit and spices. Exceptionally fresh with a velvety texture, well-balanced with a lively froth and elegant bubbles Rosé is festive and drinkable with a broad range of foods.

 

JCB No 39 Crémant de Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France (approx $30)  

JCB No. 39 is the quintessential marriage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three renowned appellations in Burgundy: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint –Véran.     And there’s a romantic story behind this refined pale yellow wine in a beautiful black bottle.  The delicate and silky yet bone-dry crémant with whiffs of toast and yeast and fresh aromas of white peaches, crisp apples, with lovely bubbles and a creamy froth, has a long and elegant finish with slight honey citrus notes.  Great on its own, for a toast or an aperitif, it pairs beautifully with food.

Each JCB wine is known by a number. And each number has deep significance for Jean-Charles Boisset, the collection’s creator and namesake.  The year was 1939. Germany had just invaded Poland and France was rallying its troops to come to the aid of their ally. While this world of chaos was unraveling, a young couple had fallen in love.  They married the day before he set out to serve, and although the wait was long and painful, she knew he would return safe one day.  After three adventurous years, he returned home to the loving and faithful arms of his wife and now three-year old daughter, who he was just now meeting for the first time.  The couple is the grandparents of Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates.

 

J Brut Rosé NV, Sonoma CA  ($38)

The J Brut Rosé in the sexy bottle labeled with a stylized J is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Alexander Valley and Russian Valley in Sonoma, CA where hills and benchlands provide a diversity of soils.  The soft peachy pink color leads to a crisp, dry and mellow wine with a steady stream of fine bubbles, with flavors of red berries, orange, Meyer lemon peel and hints of almond.  It is elegant and lively, perfectly balanced with a lingering finish that makes you yearn for more and more….   

 

J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Sonoma CA  ($28)

This is another hit by J. The pale gold non-vintage J Cuvée 20 gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a hint of vanilla. The mid-palate flavors are interlaced with toast, caramel, warm pear, and almond. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering lush finish. This is the perfect celebratory wine.  

 

 

 

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