A celebration in and of themselves, sparkling wines lend festive sophistication to any occasion, making them a particular favorite for welcoming in the New Year. The blissful bubbles are produced using the French methode Champenoise, a laborious feat of artistry and chemistry in which wines are painstakingly fermented twice: once in barrel and later in bottle. These wines are hand-turned each day, disgorged to eliminate sediment, and ultimately re-corked-all without letting any of the delicious bubbles escape.
Though sparkling wines pair well with just about any food, their elegant flavors and relatively low alcohol levels make them an ideal match for delicacies like oysters, caviar, and foie gras. They also, however, offer a refreshing counterpoint to savory holiday fare, such as sushi, rich cheeses, and spicy foods. When selecting a sparkling wine, consider the assertiveness of both the wine style and the foods you’ll be enjoying, and pair accordingly.
Here are a few favorites from Santa Barbara retailers:
Sean Larkins of Vino Divino
NV Charles de Fre ($11.99)
Because it is produced just outside the Champagne region, this light, crisp sparkling wine is significantly less expensive than similar wines made only a few miles away. It’s expressive and tasty, revealing a complex balance of elegant fruit from northern vineyards and smooth, ripe fruit from southern vineyards.
NV Roederer Brut Anderson Valley ($19.99)
A sensational value, this non-vintage domestic sparkling wine is made by the producers of Cristal. It is remarkably food-friendly and lithe on the palate with crisp elegance. Complex pear, spice, and hazelnut flavors contribute to its roundness and depth.
NV Bollinger Special Cuvee ($65.99)
This rich Champagne-made with 60 percent pinot noir, 25 percent chardonnay, and 15 percent petit meunier-opens with elegant aromas of honey, brioche, roasted nuts, and peaches. A voluptuous flavor profile, led by bread dough and fleshy apples, toast, and pears, and enlivened by orange zest, lemon curd, and spices, reveals a beautifully balanced wine.
Vino Divino is located at 2012 De la Vina Street. Call 682-7484 or see vinodivinosb.com.
Nicole Fisher of Carpinteria Wine Company
NV Stellina di Notte Prosecco ($9.99)
From the cool-climate vineyards of Italy’s northern Veneto region comes this delightful Italian sparkling wine, which takes its name from the native prosecco grape varietal. Very approachable and affordable, it’s crisp, with lovely effervescence, and pairs well with a broad range of foods.
NV Duval-Leroy Brut ($29.99)
A big, full-bodied bubbly featuring toasty citrus and nut flavors, this is well-balanced with an assertive finish. Its melt-in-your-mouth vinosity gives way to subtle essences of roasted yellow figs, dark chocolate, and cinnamon. Enriched with around 15 crus and a generous amount of reserve wines, Duval-Leroy Brut is deliciously complex.
Veuve Clicquot 1998 La Grande Dame ($119.99)
Aromas of pears, smoke, crisp apples, flowers, citrus, and minerals emerge from La Grande Dame’s fragrant bouquet. Fleshy peach and apricot flavors coat the palate and are complemented by dusty minerals and white flowers. This medium-bodied wine is the pinnacle of refinement, perfectly balanced with remarkable complexity and silky smoothness.
Carpinteria Wine Company is located at 4193 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria. Call 684-7440 or see carpinteriawineco.com.
Frank Crandall and Stephen Wayne of Renegade Wines
NV Domaine Allimant-Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Rose ($18)
Alive with flavor, this sparkling wine made from 100-percent pinot noir grapes boasts layers of sweet strawberries and flowers. It has delicious acidity, balanced by almond and caramel softness, which makes it an excellent choice as an aperitif wine.
NV Gosset Brut Excellence ($38)
Produced by the oldest winery in the Champagne region, this non-vintage true Champagne is balanced beautifully. Juicy orange and citrus notes lead into a gentle acidic grip, accompanied by toasty brioche and biscuit nuances. A fluffy citrus and pear mousse alights on the palate during the wine’s long, luxurious finish.
NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose ($79)
Gorgeous notes of freshly cut flowers, raspberries, spices, and minerals flow from this medium-bodied Champagne accompanied by tangy orange and rhubarb flavors and a velvety texture. The wine possesses remarkable depth, personality, and outstanding harmony, particularly in the way the fruit carries through to the long finish.
Renegade Wines is located 417 Santa Barbara Street. Call 568-1961 or see renegadewines.com.