• Seasonal

Gorgeous bubbles for New Year’s Eve and beyond

By Ellen Bhang · 12/10/2018

If elegant, finely textured bubbles are what you crave on New Year’s Eve, look for sparkling wine made in the Champagne method. While a bottle labeled “Champagne” must hail from the French region of the same name, many producers around the world apply the same technique to create bubblies from a wide variety of grapes. At the heart of the multi-step process is a second fermentation, prompted by adding yeast and a bit of sugar to still wine. As that yeast consumes sugar, CO2 results and is captured inside the bottle in which the wine will be sold. Over time, as the wine rests on yeast sediment called lees, it develops nuanced aromas, complex flavors, and fast-streaming bubbles.

So gulp these beauties as you ring in the New Year, but be sure to set aside extra for a proper feast the next day. These are dry, gorgeous food wines—not just effervescent midnight libations.

The bottle: Laherte Frères Rosé de Meunier Extra Brut Champagne
Price: Around $47
The wine in words: Aurélien Laherte is a sixth-generation winegrower making his mark in the world of Champagne. Laherte Frères, his family’s company, farms multiple parcels of organic and biodynamic grapes throughout Coteaux Sud d’Épernay. This bubbly—sporting an electric pink hue—is made from the pinot meunier varietal. Just-ripe strawberry and vegetal scents make way for a mouthful of tart berries and red-fruit roundness, all buoyed by fine-beading bubbles.
Pair like a pro: Sip with oysters, then continue enjoying alongside a hearty bouillabaisse.
Where to buy: City Liquors, East Cambridge, 617.945.0095
Distributed in Massachusetts by: Oz Wine Company

The bottle: Cantina della Volta Bianco Brut Spumante 2013
Price: Around $30
The wine in words: Over multiple visits to France, fourth-generation winemaker Christian Bellei and his father Giuseppe studied the art of Champagne production. Today, at Cantina della Volta in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, Bellei crafts this sparkling wine from lambrusco di Sorbara grapes, utilizing metodo classico—Champagne method in Italian. Waterfall-fresh and delicate, this bubbly offers lip-smacking flavors of lemon and salt bathed in a kicky stream of bubbles.
Pair like a pro: Whet your appetite with this sipper, pairing it with mortadella and a young Italian cheese like Squacquerone di Romagna, spread on crisp flatbread.
Where to buy: The Spirited Gourmet, Belmont, 617.489.9463, thespiritedgourmet.com
Distributed in Massachusetts by: Mucci Imports

The bottle: Westport Rivers Winery “RJR” Brut Cuvée 2007
Price: Around $20 (usually $32)
The wine in words: It was the mid-1980s when the Russell family founded a vineyard and winery in southern Massachusetts, a stone’s throw from Rhode Island’s eastern border. Not long after, their RJR Brut (named for father Robert James Russell) graced the table at the White House and became a favorite of Julia Child. Crafted from pinot noir and chardonnay, this sparkler is made in the traditional method (a synonym for the Champagne method). Aging on the lees for a decade results in a toasty, savory nose, and a palate full of froth, yellow tree fruit, and notes of umami. The winery deeply discounts this bubbly through the December holidays, so stock up.
Pair like a pro: Serve this splendid pour with a platter of fried chicken—the crunchier the batter the better.
Where to buy: Ball Square Fine Wines, Somerville, 617.623.9500, ballsquarefinewines.com
Distributed in Massachusetts by: United Liquors

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