Champagne, Prosecco and Cava Oh My!
That’s not all my friends! There is Crémant, Cap Classique, Sec, and Sparkling wines. So many styles of bubbles, all delicious in their own way.
As you get ready for the night when everyone wants to drink bubbles, let’s discuss some of the options that are out there for you, shall we?
Here is a quick rundown of some of the delicious iterations of bubbles that you might encounter. Some are easier to find than others, but sometimes the journey of tracking them down makes them taste all the more luscious.
The Big 3 in Sparkling Wines
Let’s begin with the big 3
- Champagne – From the Champagne region of France, this sparkling wine is made typically from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier. Other varieties you see in Champagne more rarely, but they are allowed, like Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. It is made with a second fermentation in bottle, which traps the gas, creating the bubbles.
- Cava – Spain’s Cava is made in the same Traditional method with the grapes Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada.
- Prosecco – the famous Italian Sparkling wine made from the grape glera, typically in the Charmat or Martinotti method, where the second fermentation is done in tanks.
Here are a few we enjoyed and can recommend!
Albino Armani Prosecco
We just enjoyed this wine as part of our 12 Days of Wine 2022 Celebration.
You can read about it in Day 7 Italy Albino Armani Prosecco
This wine is from Grave in Friuli Venezia Giulia in the Prosecco DOC. It is delicious, affordable, and readily available! We paired it with ginger-seared scallops and peanut sauce.
You can find it at Total wine for $18.99 (We have an affiliate link here on the site. I may earn from qualifying purchases. So thanks if you do!)
Champagne Cattier Brut Premier Cru
This wine “is the purest reflection of Cattier’s winemaking style” https://www.cattier.com/en/champagne/brut-en/
The blend is 60% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, and 40% reserve wines.
Cattier has been farming their 33 hectares sustainably since the mid-1990s and are pioneers in sustainable Champagne.
Read more about it in our piece Champagne Cattier – Sustainable Champagne creating a home for the hedgehogs
I was able to find this wine at my local Total Wine for $69.99. (Again, there’s a link if you want a bottle. I am an affiliate so I might make a little bit on the referral!)
Le Colture Prosecco Superiore Extra Brut
I enjoyed a bottle of this wine, thanks to the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. They sent me a sample to determine my Prosecco Superiore DOCG Style which I found to be Extra Brut (that means it leans to the drier side!
(While this wine was received as a media sample, all opinions remain my own!)
We paired it with Cicchetti, the Venetian small bites, like Spanish Tapas, that are meant for aperitivo, though you can make a meal of them.
We drifted off nostalically, thinking of our recent visit to both Venice and Conegliano Valdobbiadene…
We made Tuna Polpettes with tarragon & basil yogurt dressing!
We did a reel about it, and won their IG contest for the Extra Brut Category! (which was VERY exciting!) You can read the whole article at the link below.
In October I attended the “Co-ferment” Natural Wine Fair in Las Vegas. One of the wineries pouring was Château LeLarge-Pugeot.
Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot is a Récoltant-Manipulant, the term for a Grower Champagne. They are located in Montagne de Reims, in Vrigny (a Premier Cru village), and are committed to biodynamic farming.
Their 8.7 hectares are planted to a majority of Meunier (love that) with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir also.
At the fair, Clémence Lelarge, daughter of eighth-generation owners Dominique and Dominique, was pouring.
I was able to taste their Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot Gueux Extra Brut and the Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot Les Charmes de Vrigny.
The Les Charmes, at the time I tasted it, had been on the lees for 10 years. It is 50% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. Unfined, made with indigenous yeast from 40-year-old vines. It spent 10 years on the lees and is Extra Brut. Delicious.
Domaine Jean Vesselle Champagne Bouzy Rosé de Saignée
Earlier this year we tasted Domaine Jean Vesselle Champagne Bouzy Rosé de Saignée. We were focusing on Female winemakers and I had just finished reading the book by Rebecca Rosenburg called “Champagne Widows.” The book was fantastic!
Typically in Bouzy, Rosé Champagne is made by the blending method, adding a small amount of red wine to add color. In Rosé de Saignée, the winemaker bleeds off (saignée means bleed in French) some of the juice from a red wine while it is on the skins. This is often done when making a rose wine of any type. It allows a winemaker to concentrate his red wine and create a rosé at the same time. It’s a two for one!
This often creates a darker rosé with more of the aromatics that you normally would smell in a still wine.
The wine It is redolent with berries, like a bowl of fresh red cherries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. There is a touch of spice and delicious mineral notes (probably from the chalky soil).
We picked this up at Garagiste for $67.50.
Col del Balt
This is an exclusive preview!
While in Northern Italy, we visited Col del Balt. Their winery and vineyard are located just south of the town of Valdobbiadene.
We met with Carlo Sanzovo at the winery/tasting room. He and his brother Fabio took over the vineyards and winery from their father, Graziano. The winery had previously been known as Sanzovo, after their surname. The brothers want to make wines of place, so they renamed the winery Col del Balt after the hill in Valdobbiadene where their vineyards are located.
After heading down to the vineyard below, we spent much of the morning at the winery with Carlo. They are in process of completing their winery. The interior is beautifully designed, with a stairway leading up to a private conference room with windows looking out toward the vineyards. Here we sat with Carlo, learned more about the winery, and tasted the wines.
We tasted three wines that are available in the United States. The Codolà is made in the ancestral method, like a Pet Nat. Then the two of their Valdobbiadene Prosecco SuperioreDOCG Brut and Extra Dry. All of these wines are delicious, and you can find them in the US through VeroVino Craft Wines.
Watch for a full “Discovering Wine Country” Episode on Col Del Balt this spring!
Cava Mestres 1312
We enjoyed this Cava a while ago, from one of the older wineries in Sant Sadurni. The Mestres family has been a wine producer and grower in Sant Sadurni since 1312. Let that sink in for a minute…1312.
In 1925 they made their first sparkling wine, popping it open for the first time in 1928 to celebrate Christmas. Remember when I said the name “cava” was first used for a sparkling wine in 1959? That would have been the Mestres, they first registered and used the name “Elaborado en Cava” instead of Champana on their bottles.
More delicious bubbles!
Outside of the Big Three there are many many more sparkling wines! We tasted some delicious wines while visiting Northern Italy, including…
Ah Lambrusco. Deep purple and bubbly, frothing on the top as it is poured, it is a delightful wine. Sadly, in the 70s the market was flooded with cheap sweet Lambrusco that tasted more like a soft drink and people grew to dislike it.
Currently, much of the quality Lambrusco in Italy comes from Emilia Romagna, but there is a small corner of Lombardy near Mantova (Mantua to you Shakespeare lovers) where Lambrusco is also cultivated.
Much of this wine is “big wine”, from large co-ops where quantity outweighs quality, but there are a few producers producing high quality Lambrusco. We visited Azienda Agricola Bugno Martino, where Rafaella met us to show us their organic vineyards. They are biodiverse, growing beyond what is required for Organic certification.
We tasted through several of their wines and Rafaella pulled out some cheese as well as a sausage that Giuseppe had made. Two of the wines we tasted are available here in the US through VeroVino Craft Wines , Their Rosso Matilde Dry Lambrusco and Essentia Pet Nat style Lambrusco. We wrote about these wines a year or so ago in Banish me to Mantua, with a glass of Lambrusco Mantovano
In the spring you can look forward to hearing our entire conversation with Rafaella!
In the Soave region of the Po River Valley between Padua and Verona you find Sandro de Bruno winery. They create some delicious Soave wines, but we visited to taste their Sparkling Durello. Made from the Durrella grape grown in the Lessini Durello region in volcanic soils these wines.
Two styles of sparkling wine are made here. Monti Lessini, made in the Traditional Method and Lessini Durello made in the Charmant Method.
We spent the morning with Sandro and Greta who deals with marketing, first in the cellar at the winery tastig the wines and then out in the vineyards with Sandro. Sandro has two styles available through VeroVino Craft Wines, one rest on the lees 36 months before disgorgement, the other 60 months.
Both of these wines are delicious, and received 95 points from Wine Enthusiast. You will get fine bubbles and exotic fruits on the nose. These are just delightful!
The morning we spent with Sandro was truly magical. We struggled a bit with language differences (my Italian is terrible), but we truly had an exceptional visit and the views of the Po River Valley from his vineyards are amazing.
Yes, there will be a Discovering Wine Country episode on this visit coming out in the spring.
Zanon Sparkling Boschera
Another amazing visit we had in Italy was to speak with Eros Zanon in Valdobbiadene. He has spectacular vineyards near Follina and makes delicious Col Fondo (or ancestral method) wine from glera.
In addition, he makes a sparkling Boschera. This grape teeters on extinction with just 7 hectares left in the region of
It was traditionally used to make Torchiato di Fregona a sweet wine made in the passito method. Additionally, it is sometimes added to glera to make Prosecco or Col Fondo.
Eros makes a Col Fondo from 100% Boschera. This is a unique and rare wine; believe it or not, you can get a bottle of it from VeroVino Craft Wines.
Watch this year for a Discovering Wine Country episode featuring our visit with Eros, walking (rather climbing) his stunning but very steep vineyard and tasting with him at his winery!
I love Cremant d’Alsace. While Champagne takes all the credit, the next wine that the French flock to for bubbles in Cremant d’Alsace. Not only are these delicious sparkling wines made from Pinot Blanc, Auxerros, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this is also one of the most sustainable regions in France. The region was a pioneer in France for organic and biodynamic farming back in the 1960s, and today 35% of the vineyards in Alsace are either certified organic or are in the process of conversion.
We sipped delicious Cremant d’Alsace from Pierre Sparr, Willm and Dirler-Cadé. You can read about them in “Cremant d’Alsace – Exploring the Nuances of France’s 2nd Favorite Sparkling Wine“
Vina Donovan Dolores Brut Reserva from Freixenet Mexico
Earlier this year we tasted bubbles from Mexico. The Vina Donovan Dolores Brut Reserva comes from Freixenet Mexico. You will be familiar with their Spanish Cava in the distinctive matte black bottles.
Querétaro, where the vineyards for this wine are located, sits on the 20th parallel. It is the southern-most wine-producing region in the Northern Hemisphere. The vineyard here is at 6,500 feet, which allows for a cooler climate, perfect for sparkling wine grapes.
This sparkling wine is made in the traditional method and spends 18-24 months sur lie.
The nose on this is green apple, pear, Meyer lemon, chalk, and bread dough. On the palate, I get a bit of lime in addition to the apple, pear, and lemon.
It’s not the easiest wine to find, but if you happen to be in Mexico, it is a sparkling wine you can count on!
Read more about it here.
Pét Nat & Piquette
Short for pétillant naturel, Pét Nats are a lightly sparkling wine made via the method ancestral. This method bottles wine which is only partially fermented. The wine continues to ferment in the bottle catching the CO2 bubbles which give the wine it’s fizz. These wines are low in alcohol and are typically closed with a crown cap, like old soft drink bottle.
Piquette is a fascinating beverage that is becoming more popular. Piquette is a lightly fizzy low-alcohol beverage (technically it’s not wine). It uses the grape pomace (that’s the skins, seeds, and stems left after pressing a wine) and adds water to ferment any leftover sugars. This is “reduce, reuse, recycle” in its tastiest form.
We sipped a few of these wines over the past year including
We finish up with a couple of bottles of bubbles from the land down under! Follow the links for the details!
We could go on and on, but we will finish up with a few more links and photos to whet your appetite
La Taille aux Loups Triple Zero from the Cremant Montlouise-sur-Loire AOC is a delicious Zero dosage (super dry) Cremant de Loire wine.
We explored Cap Classique from South Africa, Blanquette de Limoux from the South of France and Moscato d’Asti from Italy in 3 regions 3 Exciting sparkling wines to try – Exploring bubbles on the fringe
Check out our book series, “Tempting Spoonfuls” available through Amazon!
Inspired by the flavors and aromas in wines, this book creates “tempting spoonfuls” of flavors to pair with wines.
Robin has always had a love for spoons, with a drawer full of them in all different shapes and sizes. There is comfort in eating something from a spoon and something very sensual also.
Creating a spoon filled with flavors and aromas that will be eaten in a single bite, allowing the flavors to meld and pop in your mouth, is a joyful endeavor, and you are encouraged to make these your own.
The spoons range from savory to sweet, with something for everyone, and while they are paired with wines, they are delicious on their own.
These recipes are wonderful for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres or simple to create something delicious to spoil yourself, much like a pint of ice cream.
Each of these spoons is paired with a specific wine, and you get a bit of background on the wine, its flavors, aromas, and a bit of its story. She also includes other suggestions for wines to pair with the spoon.
The book is a feast for your eyes, with photos of each layered spoonful.
There are also photos of the wines with the elements of their flavor profile surrounding them. Those elements often inspire the pairing.
The goal is to make your mouth water and encourage you to create your own “Tempting Spoonfuls.”
“Tempting Spoonfuls – Pairing single bites with glorious wines” – Our first book paired wines from boutique wineries on the west coast, in California, Oregon, and Washington, with delicious spoonfuls.
This book is 60 pages, 18 recipes, lots of beautiful photos, and insights into some fantastic small wineries!
“Tempting Spoonfuls – small bites paired with wines from around the Globe” – This book takes us around the globe to explore 12 wine regions, a wine from the region, and then gives you a recipe for a pairing!
A slightly larger book at 104 pages, this time you learn about pairing with a type of wine from a region. Rather than a specific bottle, you can look for a style of wine from a region and feel confident that it will go well with the recipe pairing we provide. We give you 12 recipes, each to pair with a wine.
Either of these books gives you wonderful recipes to create appetizer spoons to pair with wines for a party!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.