People love to ask me what wines I like. What are “good” wines? What should they be drinking?
While all three of those are extremely personal and subjective questions, I am lucky enough to get to taste a lot of wine and I really enjoy giving suggestions to folks looking to try something new or expand their wine horizons.
That’s how I came about this post. I hosted a sparkling wine tasting for a client last week. I chose the wines and presented them at the event They are new discoveries for me and bottles I’ll be going back to all summer long.
#1. Hugo Sparkling Rosé, NV,Niederösterreich, Austria
I’ve had affection for Austrian Sparkling Wines since I started drinking Szigeti, Grüner Veltliner Brut. If you haven’t had it, I sincerely suggest you try it. The Hugo Sparkling Rosé is lighter, fruitier, with strawberries dancing playfully. This sparkling is so juicy and fruity that it could almost be mistaken for having sweetness, but it finishes dry. Made from Zweigelt and Pinot Noir, the Hugo sparkling is made rosé not by blending but by macerating six hours on the skins. The color is a lovely light pink, maybe a hint of salmon and the nose is fresh red fruits and citrus. They let the wine age for 4 months on its lees, so while it remains fresh, there is a richness to the mouthfeel and more complexity that you’d expect for something this easy and fun. This summer, the Hugo is going to be my go-to bottle sitting outside.
#2. 2013 Juvé y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Cava, Catalonia, Spain
If you are a fan of yeasty, toasty, brioche-y goodness in your sparkling wines, I cannot recommend this Cava highly enough. Made from Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada grapes with a touch of Chardonnay, this sparkling is made in the traditional Champagne method from free run juice. Being a Brut Nature, there is zero added sugar to finish the wine, giving it a very dry finish. I’ve read that this is the Cava of choice of Spain’s royal family, regularly served at all official banquets. And it’s vintage to boot. Pale gold in color, this Cava has aromas of mature white peach, toasted bread and green tea with hints of lemon citrus and apricots. It’s often found under $20 retail and gets my vote as a great value sparkling to take on a picnic for those drinkers that like toasty styles of Champagne.
#3. Jansz Premium Cuvée, NV, Tasmania, Australia
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had discounted Australian sparkling wines. Then I tried Jansz. Made in the traditional Champagne method out of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is a sparkling that stands up to the cleaner, fresher styles of Champagne at only half their price. On the nose, I found citrus from the Chardonnay, with a hint of sweet flowers while the Pinot Noir contributed a delicate, almost strawberry red fruit component. Complexity abounds with nougat and roasted nuts derived from the tirage age. The palate is well-balanced with delicate fruit flavours, creaminess and a fresh, dry finish. This is going to be my go-to value bottle of classic bubbles all summer long.
#4. Chanrion Effervescence, NV, Beaujolais, France
Time to get crazy. Sparkling wine in the traditional method made from Gamay. Yes, you read that correctly, we have sparkling Beaujolais! “Effervescence” is technically a vintage sparkling wine, although the winemaker uses a non-vintage label. This wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, aged 18 months on its lees, hand riddled twice a day, then manually disgorged before 3 grams dosage are added to the final wine. No one else is in Beaujolais is doing this, and certainly not with cruller vineyard fruit. There is a definite savory component to this sparkling wine, a mix of dried herbs and dried fruit–apricot, strawberry, raspberry and melon–touches of black pepper, and a blend of dry, bitter, and dusty alongside the fruit both in the nose and on the palate. There is even, almost, a hint of of tannin present? It’s barely perceptible, but its there and probably due to full cluster fermentation. This is my oddball sparkling of the summer. The wine to drink with your geekiest of wine friends.
#5. Vajra N.S. Della Neve Sparkling Rosé, NV, Piedmont, Italy
If sparkling Beaujolais wasn’t enough for you, my next sparkling wine for the summer is a sparkling blend of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir out of Piedmont, the home of big boy reds Barolo and Barbaresco. Made in the traditional Champagne method, this wine is the most savory of the lot with aromas of red berry, toasted nuts and pink grapefruit leading the way with herbs underneath. The bright palate offers red cherry, strawberry, walnuts and a hint of white pepper alongside fresh acidity and persistent bubbles. The complexity of flavor just knocks me out and the body/texture puts it in a class all its own. Another one to share with your geekiest wine friends when you want to take your time and savor all the complexity this bottle has to offer.
#6. Marc Hebrart Cuvée de Réserve, NV, Champagne, France
You can’t talk about sparkling wine and not include the quintessential sparkling, Champagne. Unlike many Champagne producers who source their fruit from all over, this is Grower Champagne, meaning the same folks who grow the grapes make the wine. From the Vallée de la Marne in Champagne, France, Marc Hebrart is sourcing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Premier Cru vineyards and creating this spectacular non-vintage sparkling wine. Fresh in style with delicate bubbles, this is delicious, classic brut champagne at its best. Pears, apples, nectarines abound, but so do more subtle flavors and aromas, hints of white flowers, a touch of white pepper, minerality, candied lemon zest even, all unfold on the palate. Instead of yeasty brioche, there is a hint of shortbread. The finish is long and supple. This is a bottle to open this summer when you’ve got something to celebrate and only Champagne will do!