Holiday season is time for bubbles. Here are five splurge-worthy sparkling wines to get your celebrations started. We have two delicious champagnes, a biodynamic Crémant de Bourgogne to appeal to natural wine fans, a sophisticated Cava from Spain and an off-the-wall selection: A delightful lambrusco from northern Italy to brighten your more casual festivities.
• Philipponnat Royale Réserve Brut: Three stars; Champagne, France, $70. Philipponnat is a celebrated champagne house, and it’s one of the few to make a single-vineyard vintage wine, called Clos des Goisses, each year. The Royale Réserve Brut is a more traditional multi-vintage blend, based on pinot noir. The winery uses a solera system for its reserve wines, which make up about a third of the blend. (A solera combines wines from many vintages. Each year, some is drawn off to serve as reserve wine for the new multi-vintage blend, while fresh wine from the current vintage is added.) The current release, according to the label, was based on the 2013 vintage, and disgorged in November 2017 - details interesting to wine nerds. What you really need to know - this is serious wine, worth the splurge and worthy of a fine meal, not just toasting. Alcohol by volume: 12%.
• Jean Pernet Réserve Brut Chardonnay Grand Cru: Three stars; Champagne, $50. Here’s a delicious wine that just happens to have bubbles. It hails from Le Mésnil-sur-Oger, an area of Champagne that features chardonnay at its height. Think of this wine for dinner. Its richness and depth will match robust dishes, while the bubbles give it some lift to leave you ready for another sip. ABV: 12%.
• Cantina della Volta Brutrosso Lambrusco di Sorbara 2016: Three stars; Italy, $22. This is not your typical sparkling wine. It’s lambrusco, which means it is red, but kind of a deep rosé in color. The bubbles don’t give you the same pressure as champagne, and this is lighter with brighter fruit flavors than most lambruscos. Enjoy this with smoked or cured meats - think charcuterie, pizza or barbecue. ABV: 12.5%.
• Céline et Laurent Tripoz Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Nature: Two-and-a-half stars
Burgundy, France, $30. I’ve long admired this small family domain in the Macon region of Burgundy for the quality of its still and sparkling wines. The crémant brut nature, made entirely from chardonnay, is soft and rich, with flavors of earth and apples. Certified biodynamic. ABV: 13%.
• Naveran Cava Brut Vintage 2017: Two stars; Penedes, Spain, $17. Crisp, medium weight, classic cava with refreshing bubbles, this Naveran vintage brut is ideal as an aperitif or for use in cocktails. This is also available in magnums (1.5 liters, or two bottles’ worth) for your large gatherings. ABV: 11.5%.
Note: Three stars: Exceptional; Two stars: Excellent; One star: Very good. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.