Go bubbly for the holiday


POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009

The holiday season is upon us—the perfect time for a festive wine.

Yes, we need bubbles to lift the spirits, especially in these times. A sparkling wine is really the quintessential aperitif and mood-setter for a gathering.

But one should also keep in mind that if you take away the bubbles, there should still be a really good wine, reminiscent of a top-quality French chablis or white burgundy.

Having said that, one can easily pair these sparklers with myriad foods in addition to just toasting.

As an example, we recently did a charity event and offered only a top-quality bubbly and a terrific pinot noir. There was really no need to offer a white wine that evening.

Here are a few real finds to consider this year. Start popping the corks and let's have some fun.

Happy Holidays!

Simmonet Febvre Cremant de Bourgogne 2005 ($17 per bottle)

Cremant de Bourgogne translates to “;sparkling wine from Burgundy.”; In this case the chardonnay grapes come from France's Chablis region, which has soils and a cool climate that are similar to the world-renowned Champagne appellation.

This particular cremant is paler in color, lighter, more delicate and refined than many champagnes. It is also a fraction of the cost. The nose is ethereal and floral, effortlessly light, crisp and lip-smackingly delicious.

Raventos I Blanc Brut “;L'Hereu Reserve”; 2005 ($21 per bottle)

This family has been producing this Spanish cava (sparkling wine) for 19 generations, and they still use three indigenous Spanish grape varieties grown in limestone vineyards like they always have. This particular bottling is made using the French Champagne method, which explains the wine's refined character, intricacy, class and tiny bubbles.

A fabulous bargain, this is a stellar Spanish bubbly.

Elvio Tintero Moscato d'Asti ($14 per bottle)

For those looking for a slightly sweet, profusely fruity bubbly, here is the one.

Moscato smells like lychee, flowers and rose petals and is remarkably light—kind of like liquid sorbet. It should appeal even to those who love dry wines. This one is as fresh and delicious as can be.

Paul Bara Brut “;Grand Cru”; 2000 ($75 per bottle)

This is one of the best we've had from the “;grower”; champagne category.

“;Grower”; champagnes—or “;Recoltant Manipulant,”; as the label reads—mean producers grow their own grapes and make the wine. This does not guarantee quality, but usually does signify a handcrafted product.

In this case, the grapes are all grand cru quality; the resulting champagne has lots of breed and pedigree, coupled with a real textural creaminess and toasted bread character. While $75 a bottle does seem pricey, it really isn't when compared with deluxe offerings like Dom Perignon, Cristal and Comtes de Champagne.

“;By the Glass”; appears every second Friday in HILife. To contact Chuck Furuya, visit www.dkrestaurants.com.