With the holiday gift-giving and party season upon us, the Champagne and sparkling wine section at your friendly (we hope) wine merchant, grocery store or government-approved outlet becomes more crowded. How to sort through all those labels and be confident in your selection, particularly with gifts? The following short guide offers a range of wines to consider from more than 100 tasted recently at prices from under $15 to over $100.
From the value side of the scale, the Gloria Ferrer line from California is dependable, well-made and under $15 in most places. Other wines under $20: Roederer Estate, Mumm Napa and Schraffenberger.
Among more expensive wines, here are eight that show different styles and can go with anything from fine cuisine to quaffing on New Year’s Eve. They are listed in order of ranking.
n Bertrand Senecourt Beau Joie NV Brut Rose Special Cuvee, $105 – 50 percent Chardonnay, 50 percent Pinot Noir, light dosage of sugar added for house style. Light pink, salmon color; yeasty nose, with hints of Pinot Noir; acids add balance; good fruity and finish. Wonderful by itself and also a match for salmon with dill sauce or other interesting sauce.
n Bertrand Senecourt Beau Joie NV Brut, $80 – Ultra Brut wine with no dosage. Pale straw; lovely light yeasty nose; tight acids; refined flavor and finish. Classic style. Can go with cuisine with lighter sauces.
n Perrier Jouet, NV Grand Brut, $30 – Pale straw color; light yeast nose; mid-body; straightforward fruit and clean finish. Popular party wine.
n Schramsberg 2007 Blanc de Blanc, $35 – Weedy Chardonnay nose (100 percent Chardonnay); light yeast; big bubbles; good acid structure; can age further. A match for seafood with subtle sauces.
n Charles Ellner, Non-Vintage NV Brut, $35 – Blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with Chardonnay showing in the nose, with hints of yeast. Tight, citric on the palate, good flavor and finish. A match for appetizers, including terrines, more powerful cheeses.
n Duval Leroy, NV Brut, $35 – Light yeast nose; mid-body; good acids; clean, straight forward style and finish. Dependable NV.
n Duval Leroy, NB Brut Rose, $48 – Pinot Noir nose (100 percent PN), light yeast; mid-body; good fruit and flavor; nice contrast to the NV Brut.
n Nicolas Feuillatte NV Brut Blue Label, $25 – Best value of the night in a tasting of 25 sparkling wines ranging from $15 to $150. Blend of 20 percent Chardonnay; 40 percent Pinot Noir; 40 percent Pinot Meunier. Light yeast nose, with Pinot Noir nuances; soft; lower acids; mid-body. Appetizer wine.