New Year’s sparkling wine 2020 recommendations, because value and quality matter
Once again, the blog focuses on value and quality for New Year’s sparkling wine 2020. Consider these wines for toasting, dinners, or just because you’re in the mood for bubbly. Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.
• Dutcher Crossing Blanc de Blancs 2016 ($45, sample, 12%): California sparkler is top-notch and, given bubbly prices, a fair value. Look for crisp, green apple-y fruit, with some brioche in the background to remind you this is a high-class wine. Very tight bubbles. Highly recommended.
• Bouvet Brut NV ($12, purchased, 12%): This French sparkler from the Loire does not taste like Champagne. Does it taste like quality bubbly, with tight bubbles,a zingy mouth feel. and lemon apple fruit? Yep. Would that all sparkling wine at this price was this well made. Highly recommended. Imported by Kobrand
• Empire Estate Blanc de Blancs NV ($19, sample, 11.9%): Price may be a problem, but this New York riesling sparkler, made with the charmat method, is quality wine — soft bubbles, some green apple fruit, decent minerality, and a long finish.
• Casteller Cava NV ($12, purchased, 11.5%): This Spanish bubbly is among the few remaining great cheap Spanish sparkling wines, which have been devastated by consolidation and premiumization. Apple and pear fruit, tight bubbles, and a marvelous wine all around. Highly recommended. Imported by Ole & Obrigado
Somehow, despite the Wine Curmudgeon’s passion for cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and several reviews of the Casteller rose cava, I have neglected to review the Casteller brut. What better time time to rectify this than for Thanksgiving?
The Casteller cava ($10, purchased, 11.5%) does everything sparkling wine is supposed to do, regardless of price. It has tight bubbles that sparkle up from the bottom of the glass; a vague notion of the toast that is part of Champagne’s appeal; and crisp, fresh, sweet lemon fruit. In this, it’s not exactly soft like some Proseccos or sweet sparklers, but more fruit forward, and certainly not unpleasant.
And, for your $10, you can buy four bottles the Casteller cava instead of one bottle of very ordinary Champagne. Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame in six weeks. Chill this and serve it with Thanksgiving dinner, on its own, or any time you feel like something bubbly. Which, as regular visitors here know, is any time at all.
The two most unappreciated wines in the wine world are rose and sparkling wine. Don’t believe me? Let the Wine Curmudgeon quote from sales data: Nielsen doesn’t even track rose, which is apparently lumped in with blush wines, a category that includes white zinfandel. As near as I can tell, maybe two out of every 100 bottles sold in the U.S. between March 2010 and March 2011 were rose. And sparkling? The Wine Institute reports that about 135,000 cases of bubbly were sold in the U.S. in 2008. Which is less than the wine sold by the two or three biggest wineries in Texas in a normal year.
Hence this Mother’s Day wine of the week, which is both rose and sparkling — and cava to boot, which makes it a terrific value. The Casteller ($12, purchased) has a bit of what Champagne geeks call yeastiness (and is a good thing), a burst of strawberry fruit at the front, and a surprisingly long mineral finish, something rarely seen in a a wine that costs this little. And the bubbles? Long, lingering and lovely, which is also a surprise in a wine at this price. The Wine Curmudgeon loves Cristalino, and this wine makes Cristalino seem quite ordinary.
Toast Mom with this wine on Sunday. She’ll appreciate it. It’s also a fine food wine; pair it with any sort of brunch dish, main course salads or grilled chicken. And, if you need a little variety, Casteller makes a regular cava, also about $12, also worth checking out.