‘Tis the season to sip something special, and nothing toasts love, laughter and the magic of the holidays quite like a bottle of bubbly. Champagne is the go-to locale for sparkling wine for a reason – the French region does indeed produce some of the most luscious bottles of bubbles in the entire world – but this loyalty to big-name labels and Old World traditions can often come at the cost of new discoveries and your bottom line, too. Here’s a list of 7 affordable Champagne alternatives that are all from the New World, all with some very laudable attributes of their own, and all eminently worthy of attendance at your next celebration.
Affordable Champagne Alternatives For Every Wallet
1. Mumm’s Napa Brut Prestige, Napa Valley, NV – $19
A classic combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Mumm’s Brut Prestige is a parfait of luscious flavors and aromas. Layers of vanilla-scented citrus and ripe stone fruit give way to a refreshing amount of acidity, all transported to your palate on a river of medium-sized bubbles. Bonus: it came in at #54 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2014.
2. Graham Beck Brut Methode Cap Classique, South Africa, NV – $16
Yes, South Africa is New World, and Graham Beck is one of the region’s most accomplished producers. This Methôde Champenoise style wine shows a hint of yeast and juicy ripe limes, the velvety-soft effervescence on the finish just one reason why this wine is quickly gaining traction on the international market.
3. Argyle Brut, Willamette Valley, 2010 – $24
The 2010 growing season was kind to Willamette Valley producers, the resulting hike in quality making the $24 price tag comparatively reasonable. Common sparkling wine components like bread dough, citrus peel, and a swirl of cream abound, but it’s the surprising salinity lurking in the background that makes this offering from Argyle a true standout.
4. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, Sonoma County, NV – $19
Gloria Ferrer’s Sonoma Brut has racked up so many gold medals it sparkles more than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a particularly apt analogy considering this wine’s holiday-ready aromas of jellied raspberry, toasted almonds, and cinnamon-spiced baked apple. It’s remarkable, especially for the price point.
5. Gruet Rose, New Mexico, NV – $17
U.S. wine country: It’s just California anymore, folks. Not only has wine culture spread throughout the States, it’s flourished, and no winery is a better example of thriving in a surprising locale than New Mexico’s Gruet. We like both the brut and the rosé, but it’s the rosé that we keep going back to. Bright bursts of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry persist, interwoven with the warmth of cinnamon and Chantilly cream.
6. Jansz Premium Cuvee, Australia, NV – $22
Jansz relies on grapes culled from Tasmania’s cooler microclimates to produce their cuvee, which is currently the most award-winning sparkling wine in Australia. The typical stone fruit aromas are present, albeit slightly more ripe and intense than usual, but it’s the hints of nut butter and strawberry – which evoke an almost gourmet PB&J feel, now that we think of it – but there’s enough pithy lemon to keep things bright and refreshing. It’s intriguing, in the very best way.
7. Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs, Carneros, NV – $19
There’s a lot of history behind this wine. Domaine Chandon is not only the first French-owned sparkling wine producer in the U.S., the Champagne house’s beginnings date all the way back to 1690 and a Benedictine monk by the name of Dom Pérignon. This Blanc de Noirs is a great way to experience 400+ years of tradition funneled into one budget-minded bottle. The wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the combination lending both body and richness. We taste chocolate-covered strawberries and cocoa-dusted cherries, orange peel, clove, and Parker House rolls, and we like it.
Attention fellow sparkling fans: What New World Champagne alternatives are you crazy about?
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