Houston Bubbles: Your New Year's Eve Champagne and Sparkling Wine Buying Guide
Labet Crémant de Bourgogne
Photo by Jeremy Parzen Outside of the region of Champagne, France, some sparkling wines are called "crémant," a word intended to evoke the wine's "creamy" character.
I recently tasted and thoroughly enjoyed this wine, which is made in Burgundy from 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes. An elegant and mineral-driven wine and a great value (under $20). Houston wine legend and longtime Spec's buyer Bear Dalton wrote this tasting note and backgrounder on the wine.
André Clouet Brut Rosé
André Clouet is one of the leading producers of "grower Champagne," a relatively new trend in the appellation. During the past few decades, many small, family-owned farms stopped selling their grapes to the big Champagne "houses" and began bottling the wines themselves. Clouet has been a favorite among wine industry insiders and it represents extreme value at $50. My tasting note: Gorgeous!
Gaston Chiquet Tradition
This is the Champagne that I reach for when I want to serve the wine with dinner. Its freshness and food-friendliness (thanks to vibrant but well-balanced acidity) have made it a favorite at our house, especially when paired with a rich risotto alla parmigiana. It weighs in at just over $50, the average price for a great bottle of entry-tier Champagne.
Bollinger Special Cuvée
I love Bollinger so much that I wrote a song about it. Known for its distinctive "yeasty" and "toasty" notes, Bollinger is one of the most unique expressions of Champagne and my personal favorite. It lands at the higher end of my Champagne budget ceiling at under $60, but it's worth every penny.
Bouvet-Ladubay Signature Brut
The Loire valley of France delivers some of the most value-driven sparklers, like this one, made mostly from Chenin Blanc with smaller amounts of Chardonnay. Chenin Blanc is known for its bracing acidity and its ability to express minerality. This wine, which lands under $20, delivers a lot of character and food-friendliness for the price.