Did you know that 25% of Champagne is sold between Christmas and New Years Eve world-wide? It can be hard to choose the perfect bottle for the occasion with all the different brands! To help guide your Champagne shopping this year, I’m sharing my top 6 favorite bottles of bubbly that are sure to send 2021 out in style!
Why do we celebrate the holidays with Champagne, and what makes it so special? It’s the most prestigious sparkling wine in the world made only from grapes grown on the chalky soils of Champagne, the most northerly of France’s wine regions, about an hour's drive east of Paris. Only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are permitted. Surprisingly, for white wine, it is actually made mainly from black grapes. Only sparkling wine made in the region of Champagne can legally be called Champagne - everything else is Sparkling Wine. Of course, other parts of the world produce top-class Sparkling Wines outside of France. Just think about Napa Valley, South Africa, New Zealand, northern Italy for Prosecco, and of course, Cava from Spain!
We all know the “big names,” and of course, we love them too, but let’s all try something new this year!
Graham Beck, Western Cape, South Africa
One of our favorite Sparkling Wines (and some of the best values) come from South Africa and Graham Beck Winery. Our longtime friend Pieter Ferreira is the winemaster there and is known as “Mr. Bubbles” worldwide! Pieter has joined us on safari at Londolozi Game Reserve and for events in Sarasota. We were lucky to have a wonderful visit to the winery with Pieter and his wife in Robertson, South Africa.
1. Sparkling Brut Rosé – Tasting Notes: Pale silver-pink. Aromas of raspberries, cherries and a few secondary whiffs of minerality. A lively mousse and fine in the mouth, with subtle red berry flavors enlivened by bright acids. Brisk on the palate, showing hints of oyster shell and fresh lavender. Flirtatious and fun, yet elegant and structured, it’s perfect for all seasons and settings. Decanter: 91 Points
2. Sparkling "Blanc de Blancs" – Tasting Notes: Bright lime green color with rich aromas of fresh limes, green apples, pears and lemon zest on the nose. Delicately balanced flavors of succulent citrus, brioche and spice combine with yeasty complexity, broadening the palate with layered textures and leading to a long finish. Decanter: 92 Points
3. Champagne “Cuvée Rosé”, Laurent Perrier, France Our favorite Champagne for special occasions at our house is the Cuvée Rosé from Laurent-Perrier. It goes beautifully with a meal as well as a celebration toast. It is the most recognized rosé Champagne in the world. Held in an elegant bottle inspired by King Henri IV, it has been widely acknowledged for its consistent high quality for more than 40 years, and it is the benchmark for Rosé Champagne around the world.
Tasting Notes: Intensely fruity flavors, clean and slightly sharp, the wine opens to the sensation of freshly picked red berries: strawberries, Morello cherries, black currants and raspberries. The finish is supple and rounded. Wine Advocate: 93 Points
4. Champagne "Grand Reserve", Gosset, France Stepping away from your usual suspects, our go-to non-vintage Brut is Champagne Gosset! Founded in 1584, Gosset is the oldest wine house in Champagne. For more than four centuries, the preservation of style, elegance, and family traditions in the making of Gosset Champagne has been paramount. An impressive reason for their reputation for high quality is that they source their grapes entirely from classified premier cru and grand cru vineyards - a rare occurrence!
Tasting Notes: The color is bright and golden, the nose open and expressive, and the palate is dominated by a refreshing mineral tension. This Champagne is the perfect accompaniment to mild and subtly spiced dishes with cooked fruit, sweet/savory dishes or tajines. The Grande Réserve Brut is adaptable by nature — from apéritif to dessert. Wine Spectator: 94 Points
5. Prosecco “Brut” DOC, Jeio, Bisol Desiderio, Italy One of the best sparkling wines to enjoy in our warm Sarasota weather is Prosecco. The “darling” of the winepress these days, we worked hard to find a small family-owned producer who stands for quality and value. Jeio is the fruit of two interwoven love stories. The first is that of generations of the Bisol family who have faithfully cared for their vineyards. And within this same family, there is the love of a wife who affectionately gave her husband Desiderio Bisol the nickname “Jeio”. Jeio is a regular visitor to Sarasota for the Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival!
Tasting Notes: Brilliant straw yellow color; mousse extremely fine and lively. Intense and fresh nose of citrus fruits and saline sensations. Fruit-forward, a refreshing sip! James Suckling: 92 Points
6. Sparkling "Blanc de Blancs", Schramsberg, Napa Valley If we are thinking California, we have to look to the true pioneers of making Sparkling Wine in Napa Valley – Jack and Jamie Davies. In 1965, they established Schramsberg as a sparkling wine estate on the property initially founded in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram. Theirs was the first California winery to produce a Blanc de Blancs. Now their son Hugh Davies, born the same year the Davies arrived at Schramsberg, leads the winery’s management and winemaking team. Fun Fact: Every presidential administration from 1972 to 2017 has served Schramsberg’s sparkling wines during official functions!
Tasting Notes: The Blanc de Blancs has bright and fresh aromas of grapefruit, lime, green apple and white apricot. The fragrance of fruit is complemented with hints of yeast, white flowers, spicy ginger and fresh honeycomb. Wine Spectator: 93 Points
We hope these recommendations have helped you decide on the best bottle of bubbly to celebrate with this year! Our best to you this holiday season, and Happy New Year! Cheers!
Michael Klauber, Co-Proprietor of Michael’s On East Originally from Buffalo, NY, Michael Klauber grew up at his family’s Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. He started his hospitality studies at Cornell University. He then began his restaurant and beverage career through a management training program at the famed Royal Sonesta and as manager and wine buyer at Arnaud’s restaurant in New Orleans in 1977. Upon return to his hometown in Sarasota in 1980, Michael was responsible for the food and beverage program at the Colony and received Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award” in 1982 for his wine program. He pioneered the use of wine preservation systems with the first “Cruvinet” wine system to serve fine wines by the glass in 1981 and soon after presented Dom Perignon by the glass! Since then, Michael has continued to serve as a wine judge, international wine merchant, and dedicated wine enthusiast. Michael was a co-founder of the regional chapters of La Chaine des Rotisseurs, Chevaliers du Tastevin, and Commanderie de Bordeaux. Passionate about cultivating and supporting Sarasota’s vibrant culinary scene, Michael is co-founder of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, a marketing collaboration boasting more than 60 local independent restaurants throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties, the original founder of Florida Winefest, and co-founder/co-chair of the Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival.
Michael’s Wine Cellar is a hip, urban, retail wine & spirits store, which features more than 1,000 International estate-bottled wines stacked and displayed floor-to-ceiling. The Wine Cellar also offers premium & craft spirits, imported & regional beers, and more than 200 boutique wines under $20.
A popular retail store by day, the unique space is transformed into a magical space by night. Michael’s Wine Cellar hosts rehearsal dinners and seated events for up to 100 guests and 200 guests for receptions. Adjacent to the shop is an outdoor covered patio with wrought iron tables and chairs. www.michaelswinecellar.com