Image Courtesy of Income Tax Bar. Photo credit: Nelson Fitch.

Guides

Taste Buds: The Best Sparkling Wines to Drink This NYE, According to Sommeliers

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With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, you’ll be needing something bubbly to celebrate. That’s why we called upon some of the country’s best beverage directors and sommeliers for their go-to picks. And their recommendations certainly did not disappoint: from surefire steals to bottles worthy of a splurge, the foods best paired with a glass of Champagne, and how they’d pour a NYE flight. So, when you’re counting down this New Year’s Eve—pro-tip: make a Resy!—let the experts guide you and it’ll be a night to remember.

Surefire Steals

We get it; the holiday season is not easy on the wallet. No need to shell out on Grande Marques Champagne, these picks are budget-friendly and thoroughly delightful.


Champagne

“There are a ton of great grower Champagne producers that produce affordable options with delicious value in the bottle. I like houses like AR Lenoble, Aubry, and Pierre Paillard’s entry-level wines.”
Morgan Calcote, General Manager/Beverage Director, FIG (Charleston)

Hure Frere Insousance (rosé), R Pouillon Brut (Brut), Demiere Ansiot Blanc de Blanc (Blanc de Blanc).”
Ariel Arce, Owner, Air’s Champagne Parlor and Tokyo Record Bar (New York)

“If you only want Champagne for the New Year, anything by Franck Pascal is a good place to start. Biodynamic Champagne from the Vallée de la Marne at very reasonable prices. But the real deals are in Crémant and Normandy-style cider. I’ve recently fallen in love with Ciderie du Vulcain, a small organic producer in Fribourg, Switzerland. Cheap, sparkling, undeniably delicious. And low ABV!”
Zoë Laird, Wine Director, Chez Ma Tante (New York)


Crémant

Bruno Dangin Crémant de Bourgogne— it’s like 1 km from the border of Champagne, on the same soils, and electrifying.”
Jake Lewis, Beverage Director, Momofuku Group (New York, Los Angeles)

“I love Stephane Tissot’s Crémant du Jura around the holidays, it is a blend of mostly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and two local red Jura grapes. It is so classic, toasty and rich fruited while being very lean and dry. We have his current release on the menu, and you can find it at retail for about $28. It’s one of those rare wines that really appeals to nearly everyone.”
Collin Moody, General Manager, Income Tax (Chicago)


Cava

You don’t have to stay in France, either: Pepe Raventós is passionately making delicious wine in the Catalan region of Spain, and Loimer makes one of my favorite sparkling rosés of all time in the Kamptal region of Austria.”
Alexandra Karosis, Wine Director, Legacy Records (New York)

Vinyes Singular Minipuca Ancestral from Penedes, Spain. [It’s] aged in old underground bomb shelters.”
David Rosoff, Partner/Wine Director, Hippo (Los Angeles)


Pétillant-Naturel

MicroBio’s ‘Nieva York’, a Verdejo Pét-Nat from Rueda. Toasty, spunky and fun!”
Heather Sperling, Owner, Botanica (Los Angeles)


Sparkling 

Château de Lavernette ‘Granit’ Brut Nature is my favorite sparkling right now! It is a blanc de noir made from 100% Gamay grown in Beaujolais and it is just a happy wine. Notes of white peaches, yellow plums, and a touch of brioche on the nose with a strong mineral backbone and tiny little bubbles make this the perfect bubbly for NYE.”
Marisa Brown, Sommelier and Assistant General Manager, Cassia (Los Angeles)

“Hands down Enrico Serafino Brut 2012 from the Alta Langa in Piedmont. Based on Pinot Noir, this is made in the Champagne method and is one of the few Italian sparkling wines that give true French Champagne a run for its money.”
Caryn Benke, Beverage Director, Ava Gene’s and Tusk (Portland)

 

Image Courtesy of Air’s Champagne Parlor. Photo credit: Noah Fecks.


Bottles Worthy of a Splurge

Or, go all out and end 2018 with a bang. You won’t regret the pretty penny you spent on an extraordinary bottle.


Champagne

“One of the most memorable Champagnes I’ve had in recent years is Marie Courtin’s Eloquence… it’s a mineral-driven, evocative expression of terroir, but it’s extremely limited so we were only able to score a few bottles for Renzo.”
Nayda Freire, Owner/Beverage Director, Renzo (Charleston)

1992 Philipponnat “Clos Des Gosses. I was lucky to have tasted it once and I still haven’t fully recovered from how good it was.
Ferdinando Mucerino, Sommelier at Rustic Canyon (Los Angeles)

“I’d do something like Jacques Selosse V.O. into a Cornas from someone like Clape or Allemand.”
Justin Chearno, Wine Director and Partner, The Four Horsemen (New York)

Krug! It’s creamy, nutty, and a little orange peel in tone. It’s a very special producer and worth the splurge when celebrating! We also have the half bottle which is great for two or three.”
Amy Racine, Wine Director, The Loyal (New York)

“The Clandestine “Les Semblables” from Champagne, FR – yeasty with softer bubbles rounded out by a bit of salty minerality on the finish. It’s on the list at Folk for $160 – but boy is it some of the best Champagne I have ever had. I could drink bottles and bottles of it.”
Aria Dorsey, General Manager, Folk

“Champagne from Georges Laval! In particular Les Chenes. Wow, what a wine, all Chardonnay, lemony and herbal and savory and on and on…”
Nialls Fallon, Partner/Beverage Director, Hart’s and Cervo’s (New York)

Vilmart ‘Coeur de Cuvee.’ This is a richer, more oxidative style of Champagne made from mostly Chardonnay in the tiny Champenoise village of Rilly-la-Montagne. From aperitif to entrée, the Coeur de Cuvee can fit in anywhere in your meal.”
John Filkins, Beverage Director, Officina and Masseria (Washington, D.C.)

“If I really want to throw financial caution to the wind, I always find myself coming back to the one: Pierre Péters Chétillons. It’s the thoroughbred of Champagne, hands down. Singular, precise, and perfect, it almost seems as if there are no bad vintages, but the ’04 in our cellar has really been calling to me lately.”
Alexandra Karosis, Wine Director, Legacy Records (New York)


Sparkling

“A bottle of Ultramarine by Michael Cruse because it’s probably one of the best domestic sparkling wines ever produced. It has a level of depth, complexity and minerality that you don’t often see in sparkling wine made in America.”
Joe Campanale, Owner/Beverage Director, Fausto (New York)

 

Image Courtesy of Air’s Champagne Parlor. Photo credit: Noah Fecks.


What to Eat With Champagne

The best way to enjoy bubbles? With the right kind of snack.


“Hard cheese with some age, like Parmigiano-Reggiano and extra-aged Roomano (similar to aged Gouda), croquettes, and salumi seem to always be in front of me.”
John Paterson, Wine Director of Frankies 457 Spuntino, Frankies 570 Spuntino & Franks Wine Bar (New York)

Potato chips and popcorn. Never fails!”
Jordon Sipperley, Beverage Director, Dialogue (Los Angeles)

French fries, gougères, and bomboloni. For a more decadent and luxurious pairing, burrata from Puglia topped with Beluga caviar and an oyster is the perfect match with 2006 Dom Pérignon at Masseria.”
John Filkins, Beverage Director, Officina and Masseria (Washington, D.C.)

“I could crush some Krug, which is fuller and richer, with some spicy ramen. [This combination] warms you from the inside out!”
Marisa Brown, Sommelier and Assistant General Manager, Cassia (Los Angeles)

“Eggs. I’ll take scrambled in butter, but ideally, it’s a Julia Child, French-style omelette. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”
Zoë Laird, Wine Director, Chez Ma Tante (New York)

“Living in Nashville, hot chicken is always the perfect pairing with Champagne. But honestly, working at Folk with all of our wood-fired pizza, bubbles go great with pizza.”
Aria Dorsey, General Manager, Folk

“My ultimate Champagne food pairing [is] cheese quesadillas. It’s amazing. I’ll grab a couple of friends and head to Taqueria El Zarape on Fountain & Normandie in L.A. We’ll order eight cheese quesadillas and pop open a few bottles.”
Andrey Tolmachyov, Wine Director/Head Sommelier, Maude (Los Angeles)

“Rosé Champagnes often pair well with charcuterie and more intensely flavored appetizer dishes. At the restaurant right now, I love serving the Jacques Lassaigne “Vignes de Montgeaux” with our lump crab ravioli dish; a butter-and-lemon sauce coats braised turnips and sweet crab under a layer of toothsome pasta studded with tarragon. [The combination is] so good.”
Morgan Calcote, General Manager/Beverage Director, FIG (Charleston)

Sushi or crudo. Albacore, hamachi and fluke are great with Extra Bruts and Blanc de Noirs, moving toward mackerel and fatty salmon with Pinot Meunier-based bubbles.”
Caryn Benke, Beverage Director, Ava Gene’s and Tusk (Portland)

 

Wine Director/Head Sommelier Andrey Tolmachyov. Image Courtesy of Maude. Photo credit: Ray Kachatorian.


How About a Flight?

Why stick to just one? Treat yourself to a perfect progression.


  1. La Bota Palo Cortado sherry (great for pairing with any small raw bites because its so dry, savory and salty)
  2. Marie Courtin Champagne “Efflorescence” (one of my favorite Champagne growers)
  3. Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (Valentini Trebbiano is my favorite Italian white wine. It comes from an area that I spend a lot of time in; I make my wine label Annona nearby in Loreto Aprutino.)
  4. Foillard Morgon Cuvee 3.14 (I love Beaujolais and consider it an every-night-of-the-week wine but it’s especially festive when you have one of its greatest expressions.)
  5. Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo (Given the passing of winemaker Giuseppe Rinaldi this year, it feels only appropriate to commemorate Rinaldi’s life’s work and strict adherence to traditional wine making by drinking one of the greatest wines of Barolo.)
  6. Braulio Amaro Riserva (Amaro is the perfect way to wind down after a big NYE feast. Braulio Riserva is one of my all time favorites because it is super balanced; not too bitter or sweet.)
    Joe Campanale, Owner/Beverage Director, Fausto (New York)
  1. Manzanilla Sherry with anchovies and olives
  2. Champagne
  3. Chablis
  4. Cru Beaujolais
  5. Chianti Classico
  6. Older Barolo
  7. Oloroso Sherry
    David Rosoff, Partner/Wine Director, Hippo (Los Angeles)

“Bubbles, into Chablis into Chenin Blanc into skin-macerated wine from Styria into Cru Beaujolais into Burgundy into Cornas.”
Justin Chearno, Wine Director and Partner, The Four Horsemen (New York)

“Start light and bright, with Pierre Gerbais Grain de Celles or Laherte Ultradition. Then move to a medium-bodied rosé (my favorites are Pascal Doquet Rosé, H. Billiot Rosé or Camille Saves). Finish with something richer and vintage to ring in the New Year like Chartogne Taillet-Hurtbeis, La Rogerie 08 or Ulysse Collin Mallions!”
Ariel Arce, Owner, Air’s Champagne Parlor and Tokyo Record Bar (New York)

“All bubbles, all the time! We do a bubbles flight with bubbles from around the world, comprising Cavas, Pét-Nats, Cremants & Frizzantes. So fun!”
Heather Sperling, Owner, Botanica (Los Angeles)

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