We talked a lot about sparkling wine last week but there is a lot more to cover. The biggest sparkling wine day of the year, New Year's Eve, is right around the corner. Opening a bottle of sparkling wine can be a a dangerous proposition. There's a lot of pressure under that cork! But if you like living on the edge, there's always sabrage. When the French Revolution ended just before the dawn on the 18th century, Napoleon and his cohorts decided to up the ante on Champagne corking. They swapped the simple flick of a wrist for a sword, and so "sabrage" was born. Confidently run your sabre down the bottle's length, and kaboom! You've got a sabred bottle of sparkling wine. Yes, the glass will break -- but some would say that the fanfare is worth it. Will you pick up one of these recommendations from the web's top wine writers and give sabrage a try? Have you ever sabred a wine, or seen someone else do it? Is it crazy, stupid, awesome? Let us know in the comments. Champagne

I really tried to not to pick a Champagne, but there is a reason why Champagne is Champagne… no other sparkling wine is like it. It is a beguiling sparkling wine that can play with you, mystify you, bring you to your knees in pleasure yet you always know it is holding back…never giving you everything - and that is part of its undeniable charm – it is all about the tease. The Champagne that has played with my heart the most is Marie-Noëlle LeDru Champagne, Brut NV. Marie-Noëlle LeDru owns only 12 acres (5 hectares) in Grand Cru villages Ambonnay and 2 acres (1 hectare) in Bouzy in Champagne – she even disgorges each bottle by hand (with help from a neighbor). But it is not only the sweet story that makes this Champagne so great, it is an incredible sparkling wine with as many layers of complexity as I have experienced with some of the greatest Grand Cru Burgundy wines. My latest tasting of her Brut NV gave stunning notes of truffle (did I just say truffle for a Champagne? Yes. Yes I did) and freshly baked croissant with tropical fruits and lemon blossom with a long, expressive finish. This sparkling wine captivates on an intellectual, but most importantly, on a visceral level. You want to rock the world of serious and less-serious wine drinkers alike at your next Holiday party?  Well, get yourself some LeDru – and remember small pours for your guests. If they ask why you are being so cheap, just say, “Champagne is all about the tease.”

Cathrine Todd
Dame Wine


Franciacorta

What better way to toast the season and celebrate the new year than with a bottle of bubbly. Whether you’re decorating, hosting a holiday get-together, or lazing around the house doing absolutely nothing, there is something very right about a flute of sparkling wine, Christmas music, and an assortment of tasty nibbles and appetizers. While I encourage having sparkling wines from around the globe and champagne on hand, for this post, I’ll point you to Franciacorta. This region is located in Lombardy (northern Italy) and has produced still (not effervescent or sparkling) wines since the 16th century. However, starting in the 1960s, area vintners worked together to collectively make a name for themselves as a serious, high-quality sparkling wine region. As a result, Franciacorta became the first Italian region to exclusively produce sparkling wines made in the traditional method as they do in the Champagne region of France. My festive holiday pick is Barone Pizzini Animante Brut NV. Barone Pizzini was founded in 1870 and is one of the oldest producers in the region. Composed of 78% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir, and 4% Pinot Blanc – all organically farmed, this sparkling wine offers brioche, floral notes, and inviting spicy aromas joined by lively and mature tree fruit flavors in the mouth. It has a clean, refreshing finish with a persistent stream of bubbles cleansing the palate and readying you for another sip or bite. This wine retails for $35 but can be found online for as low as $25. I recommend adding a bottle or three to your holiday rotation – it’s a very nice sparkler for the money.  Here's wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a lot of good bubbly. Sip up!

Dezel Quillen
My Vine Spot


Champagne

During my personal wine journey, sparkling wine, especially Champagne, remained elusive and felt unapproachable until four years ago, when I learned to open Champagne in my Wine & Spirit Education Trust foundation course. When #ChampagneDay on social media arrived that autumn, I was ready and excited to open and taste my first Champagne. Fast forward to today, when sparkling wines and Champagne have become my go-to wines, not only for the holidays, but year around, because they pair with so many things: family, friends, fun, and food. In selecting a wine for this piece, I remembered what held me back from Champagne for so long and one of those reasons was price. Champagne seemed like a fancy beverage for wealthy people, but I was wrong. Look no further, because I have the Champagne for you this holiday season and beyond. Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque NV (SRP $39.99) is Champagne for every day. Founded by 30 grower families in 1962, Champagne Jacquart is an authentic, innovative grower Champagne brand, and its long legacy comes alive in this non-vintage blend of mostly chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier sourced from some of Champagne's most notable crus. In the glass, it pours pale yellow with a lovely, fine effervescence. Aromas and flavors such as apples, pears, citrus, brioche, and almonds permeate the senses, all while perfectly accompanied by creamy texture, bright acidity, and chalky minerality. Fortunately, the Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque NV is widely distributed, so pick up a bottle or three and celebrate the holidays, and most importantly, life.

Elizabeth Smith


Sparkling Cider

The very best sparkling wine for the holidays is the one you enjoy with family and close friends. While Champagne and sparkling wines from around the world are certainly popular during the holiday season (though should be consumed year round), consider reaching for fizz from another fruit — a light, crisp, effervescent hard apple cider.  Cider made from apples has a long history throughout the world dating back to early Roman times. In the U.S. cider was popular with the first English settlers, considered a source of nutrition and often safer to drink than water. Light, crisp, refreshing, bright acidity; cider pairs well with a broad range of holiday dishes from salty ham to sides dishes and desserts. One of my favorite ciders is Serious Cider from America cider rockstar Diane Flynt, owner and cidermaker of Foggy Ridge Cider. Located on the Blue Ridge plateau in the southwestern part of Virginia, Flynt farms a 30-acre orchard planted to 30 different varieties of traditional cider apples.
Crisp, light and refreshing, Serious Cider ($18) is a blend of American cider apples like Roxbury Russet and traditional English apples like Dabinett and Tremlett’s.  Bright gold in the glass; notes of tart green apple and lime framed by stone fruit. Dry with zippy lime acidity.  Perfect as an aperitif or paired with most holiday dishes.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

Frank Morgan
Drink What YOU Like


Finger Lakes Sparkling Wine

Champagne is the easy pick for the holidays right? You head over to the wine shop and plunk down some cash for a well-regarded, possibly famous bottle of Bubbles. That would be simple, likely delicious and possibly expensive. Personally I try to take the road less traveled as often as I can; this is particularly true with wine selections. Many of the world’s wine regions have sparkling wine traditions and there are lots of interesting and delightful bottles that aren’t from the most famous Sparkling Wine region in the world. As an added bonus they’re often relative bargains too. With that in mind my pick is an outstanding bottle from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.Lamoreaux Landing 2009 Estate Bottled Brut ($35) This Estate bottled, vintage Brut was produced using the classic method. It’s composed of Chardonnay (58%), and Pinot Noir (42%) from two of their vineyards, both farmed sustainably. Roasted nuts, granny smith apple and wisps of strawberry are evident on the nose. The palate is loaded with orchard fruit notes that are accompanied by lemon curd, spices and bits of flaky biscuit. Crème fraiche, white pepper, stone fruits, hints of vanilla bean are evident on the persistent, complex, and somewhat firm finish. While this wine is eminently drinkable all but itself you’ll find that it’s a terrific partner with a remarkably varied array of foods. Creamy dishes, strong cheeses, white meats and all manner of finger foods are just a few of your options. Lamoreaux Landing’s Estate Brut is a tremendous value, drink it all holiday season.

Gabe Sasso
Gabe’s View


Champagne

When it comes to bubbles, Champagne is the Alpha and Omega. So if I’m going to bust out the bubbles around the holidays, I’m bringing Champers. The terroir of Champagne is diverse but exquisite, so I try to find single-vineyard Champagnes, and learn about the vineyard, soils, winemaking. One producer I’ve been nuts about for a few years now is Jacques Lassaigne. The estate is not technically a grower (it has N.M., or negociant, status), but the vast majority of these wines come from estate grapes. When it comes to finding exciting, terroir-driven Champagne in the $50-$75 range, you have to choose wisely. But, in my opinion, if Lassaigne is on the label, I’m confident the wine will be exceptional. I recently popped the cork on Jacques Lassaigne’s Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Le Cotet (Extra Brut), which I picked up for about $60. This wine comes from a single-vineyard planted in the mid-60s. It’s all Chardonnay grown in Montgueux, an area of the Aube that has very similar soils to the Cote des Blancs. It has a gorgeous nose of lime, chalk, minerals and limestone. The palate is packed with piercing acidity, vibrant lemon and kiwi fruit, the wine is laced with minerals, sea salt, crushed chalk. Perfect on its own or with pretty much whatever you’re eating!

Isaac James Baker
Reading, Writing & Wine


Champagne

Of all the Snooth write-ups I have done, this was perhaps the toughest. Initially, however, I thought this would actually be one of the easiest as champagne is the preferred wine in my house and we tend to drink a lot of bubbles. My first thought was to opt for a tête de cuvée—a Champagne house’s top bottling (think Dom Pérignon, La Grande Dame, or Belle Epoque), but I decided against since, in my opinion, most of those wines are not ready to drink upon release—they just need a bit more time (like a decade) before they are at their peak. I then thought about a vintage champagne, but demurred for the same reason (although most vintage champagnes need far less time). Then there was the cost. I usually spend the holidays with family and even though I love them very much, they do not know the difference between Krug and Korbel (that is not a slight against Korbel, which I actually think makes some nice wines, but it ain’t no Krug). I brought a very nice champagne to a family holiday event a few years ago and my brother-in-law filled his red solo cup about 1/2 full of the $150/bottle champagne and then added Coke. And rum. And ice. And then he did it again (apparently champagne makes a rum and coke that much better). So now, I limit my choices to wines that won’t cost me a bundle and therefore will not want me to strangle an in-laws when they create their own concoctions. I do want to have a decent, unfettered champagne in my glass, however, and for me these days, that means Piper-Heidsieck. I usually opt for the standard Brut, which is available just about every where, but if I see the rosé (Rosé Sauvage) I will grab that and then convince my family that the Coke is already mixed in.

Jeffrey M. Kralik
The Drunken Cyclist


Franciacorta

Who doesn't love this time of year? Family, loved ones, friends and just another reason to drink some really great wine, although isn't that every day? There is nothing like a little bubbly to put anyone in a good mood and my holiday sparkling bottle pick is the Barrone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut Animante (NV). Franciacorta as many say is the "champagne" of Italy. Unfortunately the Lombardy wine region keeps the majority of Franciacorta for themselves so whenever I'm able to sample some I'm all in. This elegant wine displayed beautiful aromas and a hint of toastiness. Upon tasting it gave an airiness mouthfeel combined with nice minerality, citrus and stone fruits. A well balanced, complex wine with a lasting finish.

Jennifer Martin
Vino Travels


Crémant de Jura Domaine de Montbougeau

My preferred holiday sparkling wine is Crémant - a wine that looks and tastes pricey but is deceptively inexpensive and a joy to share. One favorite is Crémant de Jura Domaine de Montbougeau, made in the méthod traditionelle by third-generation vigneronne (wine maker) Nicole Deriaux. Fashioned solely with Chardonnay grapes, after secondary (malolactic) fermentation the wine spends 18 months on its lees before disgorgement and remains strictly Brut. An expert could note that its bubbles are small in size and quite present but they are not quite as tiny or in as quantity a quantity as the bubbles one would find in a great champagne. With a light, creamy flavor profile, this crémant can pair with just about anything. The palate and nose are largely neutral, with hints of apple, baked bread, and vanilla, and therefore allow this delightful sparkling wine to complement everything from a fresh seafood appetizer to a celebratory a roast beef to dessert without issue. While not made in massive quantities, there are several wine shops that carry this crémant in my town for under $25/bottle, making it easy to acquire, cheap enough to enjoy on any occasion (small or large), and convenient enough to have a chilled bottle on hand all the time. This French sparkling wine tastes far more expensive than it costs and compares nicely to pricier offerings from Champagne.

Jim van Bergen
JVB UNCORKED


Argyle Winery Vintage Brut 2013

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two time-honored wine grapes used for producing sparkling wine, have taken deep root in Oregon's rolling hills of the Willamette Valley.  With the cool climate not being too different than that of France's world-famous Champagne region, the Willamette Valley is proving to be a mighty fine place for producing world-class sparkling wines.  Although many wineries across the Valley are just now deciding to dabble in producing sparkling wine, one winery initiated their own sparkling wine movement back in the 80s and is now the largest and most well-known sparkling wine producer in the State of Oregon: Argyle Winery.  Year in and year out, I love Argyle's Vintage Brut, but their 2013 Vintage Brut (60% percent Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay), is simply outstanding.  Perpetual balance and a lasting fresh finish show off its vibrant acidic backbone. Alluring minerality along with honeyed fruits and exotic spices give it a richness and super lush roundness that enlivens the palate.  The 2013 Brut was used in their Art of Sparkling Wine program - definitely worth checking out in the Argyle Holiday Catalog and on therealwinejulia.com.

Julia Crowley
The Real Wine Julia


Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvée

My sparkling wine recommendation for the December holidays is to pick up some bottles of the Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvée. This multi-vintage sparkler is created from stocks of reserve wines. Starting in 1985, Bruno Paillard began setting aside a portion of the final blend, adding it to the subsequent year's blend, with each subsequent year blended with the year before and the year before that, and so on. The oldest of these date back 25 years. Paillard also retains the bottled wines sur lees in the bottle longer than others - after 18 months of yeast contact, these wines show extra complexity and depth. In 1983, Bruno was the first in Champagne to put the disgorgement date on the back-label, which allows the consumer to see at what stage that particular bottle is in regards to its cellar life. Paillard is a big believer that well-made Champagnes can age well under cork. They also add a lower dosage (6 grams or less of sugar per liter) that retains acidity, making it not only a pleasure to drink but also better to age. Besides the beautiful acidity, this wine has very fine bubbles, lovely citrus, orchard fruit, and floral notes to start, with classic yeast, nuts, and minerality leading into a crisp, though long lasting finish. A wine I could drink all day, happily. SRP $50

Kovas Palubinskas
50 States Of Wine


Barnaut Grand Reserve Brut Champagne

This holiday season I'll be guzzling the Barnaut Grand Reserve Brut Champagne with wild abandon. This Blanc des Noirs bottling deftly combines Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a wine that epitomizes Champagne for me--it's yeasty on the nose and bursts with aromas of baked golden apple, ripe pear, anise and lemon zest. On the palate, it's less hedonistic than the nose, but dominated by the fresh same orchard flavors. Clean minerality and low dosage make it easy to drink solo or with any array of holiday favorites (yes, it's even great with almond-crusted cheese balls). Plus, this Grand Cru wine from the village of Bouzy retails for under $50, making it a solid value for classic Champagne. Give Veuve Cliquot and other big houses a rest this year, Barnaut never disappoints!

Laura Burgess
The (Mis)Adventures of Laura. Uncorked.


Amazone De Palmer

Champagnes from Palmer and Company are a way to go big in your holiday sparkle. All these champagnes come from fruit grown in the miraculous and chalky soil of Reims and are wonderful, food friendly offerings. But if you really want to go big, try to locate Amazone de Palmer. A blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay it has toasty, mocha notes, feuillantines crisp complexity with a sparky freshness that cements its deliciousness. Made 100% from reserve wines, Palmer Champagnes puts forward this show stopping wine in a heavy oval bottle. With vineyards located in the mountains of Reims, Palmer uses techniques like hand riddling and extended bottle ageing to vinify exceptional fruit. Honor your own reflections on where you are today with a wine aged on the lees ten years. As rare as "Hamilton" tickets, this mesmerizing wine is about $120 if you can find it. For special occasions, like quality time with friends and family, it's worth the hunt.

Liza Swift

Louis Roederer Brut Premier


I drink more than my fair share of sparkling wine, including Champagne. In fact, if I were forced to limit myself to one style of wine (red, white, rosé, etc.), I’d pick sparkling wine. Like their still wine counterparts, they can be light to full-bodied; bone-dry to sweet; or white, red or rosé. Then there are the Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de noir. They’re fun, festive and food friendly. What’s not to love?!  That’s why sparkling wines make a great gift. And since champagne is widely regarded at the cream of the sparkling wine crop, my choice for a holiday sparkling wine would be the Louis Roederer Brut Premier. It is Champagne Louis Roederer’s “entry” level cuvée. It’s a blend of around 40% Pinot noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier from Grand and Premier cru sites. The wine is matured in oak tuns for 3 years and then aged a minimum of another six months on cork before release. The result is champagne that belies its “entry” level label. It’s a rich toasty wine offering appealing marzipan, almond, pear, subtle citrus and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it is full bodied, harmonious, and energetic with a delicate creamy mousse. Flavors of white peach, apples, pear and lemon curd dominate, but hints of grapefruit, black currant, and an appealing smoky minerality play in the background. You’ll enjoy a very satisfying finish. Available for $40 at my favorite local wine shop, it hits the sweet spot for quality and value!

Martin Redmond
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog


ROCO 'RMS' Brut Willamette Valley 2013

My pick for 2016 is a milestone wine, made by a legend (at least by Oregon sparkling wine standards that is). I’m talking about Rollin Soles, the man behind Argyle Winery -- the first sparkling wine facility built in Oregon in 1987, back when hardly anybody would dare to make bubbles in the state. Over the course of the next 30 years Soles would prove himself as a leader in sparkling wine production in Oregon, and throughout the country. Soles left as winemaker of Argyle in 2013 (but stayed on as a consultant) to focus his attention to his own winery, ROCO, which he co-founded with his wife. The 2013 ROCO ‘RMS’ Brut Sparkling Wine is his first commercial sparkling release since his days at Argyle. Hence Milestone. In one word the wine is simply gorgeous. RMS (standing for Rollin Michael Soles) is a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, with fruit sourced from higher-altitude vineyards in the Willamette Valley: Blossom Ridge (Eola-Amity AVA), Vista Hills Vineyard (Dundee Hills AVA) and Gran Moraine (Yamhill Carlton AVA). It offers sweet brioche, crisp apples and ripe pears and a bit of lemony citrus. There’s a slight and intriguing tartness to the wine and a lingering savoriness on the finish with fine long lasting bubbles. It has power, but also grace and elegance at the same time. For the inaugural sparkling from ROCO this is a special wine and perfect for holiday celebrations!

Mary Cressler
Vindulge

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne
 
This is one bottle that never fails to make me celebrate and puts me in a festive mood.  I taste citrus, pear, raspberry, flowers, fresh bread, strawberries with some herbs and spice at the end. It’s elegant, it’s dry, it’s fruity and it’s fantastic. It is a perfect bottle to sum up Lily Bolinger’s famous champagne drinking quote, “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty.”  

Melanie Ofenloch
DallasWineChick


Ferrari Perle

Every day is a great day for bubbles. However, the holiday season demands bubbles! One of my all-time favorite sparkling wine producers is Ferrari-Trento. Located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Ferrari is run by the third generation of the Lunelli family. Crafting high quality sparkling wines in the Methode Champenoise, Ferrari embodies the “Italian Art of Living.” My favorite sparkling wine produced by Ferrari is their Perle. It pairs perfectly with the friends, family, laughter, love, and a joyful holiday season. 2009 Ferrari Perle Trento DOC ($35): 100% Chardonnay, crafted using Methode Champenoise; straw yellow with persistent, mousse-like perlage; orchard fruit, citrus, lemon custard, marzipan, crème brulee, and toasted brioche dazzle the senses; elegant, light, and refreshing, seductively sophisticated, with a long, acidic and bubbly finish. When asked for my ultimate sparkling wine recommendation at any price, truthfully I cannot think of a better recommendation than Ferrari Perle. Cheers!

Michelle Williams
Rockin Red Blog


Ferrari Rosé

Choosing the ultimate sparkling wine for the December holidays is a pretty tall order. The holidays bring dinner parties, gatherings around appetizers and quiet celebrations at home - not to mention gift giving. Is it possible to choose one wine that would be appropriate for all of these occasions? Absolutely. For me the choice is easy - Ferrari Rosé sparkling wine made in the northern Italian wine region of Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata.) Since 1902 Giulio Ferrari, and then the Lunelli family, have been making traditional method sparkling wines in the mountains of Trentino. Ferrari Rosé is a beautiful coppery, salmon color in the glass with fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of mixed berries spill over to the flavors which combine with toasted almonds and finish with citrus zest. The finish is bright and clean. Ferrari Rosé pairs beautifully with appetizers (think smoked salmon, mushroom pinwheels or savory cookies). It would pair as beautifully with the fish course of a full course dinner as it would with creamy pasta as the only course of a simple supper. And don't overlook the deliciousness of sipping a glass of Ferrari Rosé on its own. If you want to introduce a friend to a delicious sparkling wine, Ferrari Rosé is the prefect gift and, at about $35, it won’t break the bank. We are gathering with friends in a few days and I will be taking my own advice and reaching into our wine cellar for our last bottle of Ferrari Rosé. I’m confident it is the perfect choice.

Nancy Brazil
Pull that Cork



Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Since the holidays are really special times of the year - or even your lifetime, it is worth the extra expense to toast all that we have in life. That is why my list contains my favorites that I taste only once a year. Champagne Collet NV ($55), Champagne Ruinart NV ($72), Champagne Philippe Gonet Extra Brut 2005 ($65),
Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009 ($85), Champagne Bruno Pallard 2006 ($90), & Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires 1995 ($190)

Philip Kampe
The Wine Hub