The Champagnes and Sparkling Wines Worth Popping for All Your Holiday Festivities

December 1, 2019, 12:00 PM UTC
The luxury Champagne maker is based in in the town of Épernay, approximately one hour by high-speed rail from Paris.
Champagne Pol Roger

The big holidays aren’t even here yet, and it’s already time to start thinking about New Year’s Eve.

And what goes better with New Year’s Eve than Champagne? Maybe Prosecco. Or Cava. Or Sekt. Or even English sparkling wine.

Which sparkling wine to choose depends on your palate, so here are a few suggestions to consider—many of which you might want to indulge in (responsibly) well before December 31.

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée

Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine: In English-English parlance, consider this a smart wine. It’s crisp and elegant on the finish, pale gold in color—all in all, a classic sparkling wine from a region that is more of an up-and-comer among the Old World countries. It’s also delightful for the cooler months, full of red apple and baked apple flavors, complemented by aromas of honey, almond, and pastry. SRP: $64.99

The Sterling Vineyards Sparkling Wines Two Bottle Gift Set
Sterling Vineyards

Sterling Vineyards: It’s near impossible to visit all of the wineries across Napa Valley and Sonoma County, but few and far between do sparkling better than Sterling. The Calistoga winery produces a limited amount of sparkling wines each year, and this year Sterling is bundling two of its bubbly varietals—the Blanc de Blancs and Sparkling Rosé—in one special package. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, the pale-hued Blanc de Blancs boasts aromas of green apple, lemon citrus, pear, and lemon cream. But the salmon-pink Sparkling Rosé might be a better representation of greater Bay Area roots. The current release is made from 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir grapes, sourced from Yountville in Napa and the Paris Valley Ranch in Monterey County a few hours south, a much cooler area closer to the Pacific Ocean, drawing in the coastal foggy influence. Expect notes of  strawberry, cherry blossom, rose petal, and crisp apple. SRP: $75

Chandon’s “Harvested Under the Stars” Sparkling Wine
Chandon California

Chandon California: Under the guidance of lauded winemaker Pauline Lhote, Chandon California boasts to harvest its grapes at night (or in more poetic terms, “under the stars”) so that the cool California night on the Napa Valley floor protects the quality of the grapes. This means that the acidity and fruity aromatic finesse should be preserved, giving way to a soft, dry finish with effervescent bubbles. Thus, it’s no surprise that Chandon named its 2019 limited-edition bottle “Harvested Under the Stars.” The holiday special will be available through New Year’s Eve. SRP: $19 per 750-milliliter bottle, and $43 for the magnum

Champagne Valentin Leflaive: To officially be recognized as a Champagne, the sparkling wine must be sourced and produced in the Champagne region of France. But the made-to-measure bubbly bottles from Valentin Leflaive are all but from Burgundy in influence and heritage. Olivier Leflaive, of the House of Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet in the heart of la Côte de Beaune, teamed with Erick de Sousa of Champagnes de Sousa in Avize in northeastern France to produce a unique Champagne from Burgundy grapes aged in Burgundy barrels. Champagne lovers have two options to sample: the bright and intense Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV with notes of tropical fruits and brioche, or the elegant and crisp Brut Rosé NV with a red fruit flavor profile—notably cherry and strawberries—cut by a dash of lemon for acidity. SRP: $75 for each

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Rosé 2008
Nicolas Feuillatte

2008 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Brut Rosé Champagne: The house’s iconic cuvée, the 2008 vintage represents not only a great year for the region but is also unique to its own maker. A rare “saignee rosé,” resulting from a different method of production in which red wine juices are “bled” briefly from the skins, the Palmes d’Or Rosé is a 100% Pinot Noir blend from two cru vineyards (the French designation for quality vineyards). The fruit-forward is a powerful one, ideal for pairing with food or even serving as a digestif after a meal. (Yes, you can serve Champagne after dinner, not just before!) SRP: $200

2002 Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill
Champagne Pol Roger

2002 Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill: After more than 160 years and counting, Pol Roger is one of the most renowned and largest producers in Champagne, producing approximately 110,000 cases annually. (What might be more astounding is that it manages this and is still family-owned after six generations.) Historically, Pol Roger has found favor with the British royal family (it was served at both royal weddings in 2018). It was also the preferred Champagne of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the house has honored him by naming its prestige vintage cuvée in his memory. Brilliant gold in hue, look for aromas of butter and brioche as well as hints of nougat and pistachio as it opens up. On the palate, the silky but acidic Champagne is dominated by yellow and citrus fruits with touches of almonds and hazelnuts for balance. SRP: $305

The 2003 Champagne Palmer & Co Grands Terroirs
Champagne Palmer & Co.

2003 Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs: A relatively younger house established in 1947, Palmer was founded by seven grower-families with Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards. According to Palmer’s cellar master Xavier Berdin, 2003 was an “unusual year” as the Champagne region experienced a dry winter and spring with two severe frosts, followed by an early flowering and a summer heat wave before harvest. Launched just this fall, the 2003 Grands Terroirs is a highly limited vintage bottled exclusively in magnum. Each of the 1,703 bottles has an individually numbered label and is housed in an elegant wooden keepsake box decorated with a map of the rugged Montagne de Reims region within Champagne. Produced from a blend of 54% Pinot Noir and 46% Chardonnay, the 2003 cuvée has a charming nose with aromas of citrus fruits, roasted coffee, candied apricot, and brioche. SRP: $400

The Prabal Gurung for Perrier-Jouët Gift Set
The Prabal Gurung for Perrier-Jouët Gift Set

Perrier-Jouët: Fresh and floral (perhaps perfect for New Year symbolism), the Blanc de Blancs offers notes of green apple and lemon peel. It’s also a great deal at $85 per bottle. For big spenders (at $300 per bottle), the 2006 Belle Epoque Rosé is a rounded but intense sparkling rosé, tinted with an orange hue matched by blood orange on the palate with hints of nuts, brioche, honey and caramel. And for a truly special occasion, Perrier-Jouët has collaborated with fashion designer Prabal Gurung on a limited edition gift set. Retailing for $400, the set includes a bottle of the 2010 Belle Epoque Rosé with a pair of custom champagne flutes, featuring the house’s iconic emblem surrounded by Gurung’s modern and bright floral prints and flourishes.

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