There’s something about springtime that makes me think of bubbly. While I drink it year round, when the weather starts to warm up, I always think about brunch on the patio with a great bottle of bubbly. Is there anything better? And it occurred to me that the ones I’ve been enjoying lately were not even champagne. Now don’t get it twisted, I’m not abandoning my beloved champagne. It’s my “spirit juice” after all. I’m just trying to open your eyes to other bubbles that are absolutely worth your time. The sparkling wine category seems to be expanding like crazy with no sign of slowing down. And literally from every corner of the globe. And. I’m. Here. For. Every. Drop. In that vein, I’ve been doing some “research” in the name of all that bubbles. Here is some springtime bubbly that would be perfect for brunch or just because. And all can hold their own with quality wines from Champagne.
Bricoleur Vineyards Isla Rose Brut Rosé, North Coast, CA
I visited Bricoleur this past December in Sonoma (more on that to come!) and absolutely fell in love with their sparkling wine called “Flying by the Seat of Our Pants” Brut. It was the first of many wines I tried during a fabulous wine and food pairing experience at the winery, but for me it was the most memorable. So of course, I was excited to try their new Isla Rose Brut Rosé. The wine is named after one-year-old Isla Rose Citron, who represents her extended family’s sixth generation in Sonoma winemaking. Her mother and grandparents are the co-founders of Bricoleur Vineyards. It’s crafted from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that is sourced primarily from the cool Carneros region and offers up bright red berry fruits, rose blossoms, and great minerality. Carneros was the region that got me into wine so it will always be special to me. $50 from BricoleurVineyards.
Caraccioli Cellars Brut, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA
Back in the day, it was rare that I was awestruck by Cali bubbly, but here I am with another one. So many producers on the Cali West Coast are doing their thing when it comes to bubbly. This beauty was seriously an “aha” moment upon first sip. I actually had the opportunity to try several sparkling wines from the folks at Caraccioli Cellars during a trip to the Santa Lucia Highlands last summer. The wines were so bright and elegant with racy acidity. I was like “how have I never heard of these guys?!” Well better late than never. I was thrilled when I returned home and saw that my friends at Spec’s carried their wine for around $47. Not cheap by any stretch, but can hold its own next to champagne and take names. And as I always say, you get what you pay for.
Den Hoed Proost Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature, WA
If you’ve read this blog or seen me post on social (link IG) you know I have mad love for Washington wine. These were the folks that made me love Syrah and even gave me a newfound appreciation for Cabernet Sauvignon. And while they do magnificent things with bold reds, this sparkling wine got my attention. This one from Den Hoed is made from Chardonnay in the traditional champagne method. I wasn’t aware of these guys until Nancy Croisier of VinoSocial introduced me to it during an online tasting. And wow! Light and fresh with toasted brioche, pear, grapefruit, lemon curd, and almond notes. It’s a zero dosage sparkler (which I don’t always love) but I was struck by the nice balance of acidity, minerailty and fruit in this one. $34 from Den Hoed website.
La Crema Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley, CA
This one just sort of dropped into my lap. I attended a dinner with the folks from La Crema as part of their touring pop-up experience which was so fun by the way. I was of course expecting to drink some of their tasty Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but when they literally pulled this one out of the bag, you know they had my attention. They’ve only been making this wine for a couple of years, but it’s such a well done effort. Vibrant wild strawberries, lemon verbena, a touch of cream and mineral. Count me a fan! Around $45 at Total Wine, Wine.com, Vivino, Randall’s, and wine stores in larger markets.
All The Damn Cava!, Cava, Spain
Y’all, if you haven’t been paying attention, Cava is having a moment and I’m here for it! Bodegas Naveran Dama Cava ($27) and Avinyo La Ticota Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava ($38) are two great choices and available from wine.com. Cava wines are made in the same method as chamoagne, but are much more affordable. And if you haven’t gotten in on the $59 Stewardship program from wine.com, it’s high time you did. This entitles you to unlimited wine delivery for a year throughout the U.S. and provides access to wines you can’t just walk into the store and find. They can be a little pricey but always have discount offers which I always take advantage of. But back to the Cava. The Cava D.O. has seriously upped their game with new zoning and segmentation regulations that became effective January 1, 2022. The regulations help producers to not only to highlight the unique sites and origin of Cava wines, but also provide transparency and quality assurance to consumer. For more on the new regulations, check out my post for the Vintner Project.
And if you’re looking for some springtime bubbly that’s a little more wallet friendly, check out my recommendations for wines that come in at $15 or less.
Cheers to springtime bubbly!