In case you missed last Wednesday’s Washington Post Food section, here are five sparkling wines from around the world worth brightening your holiday celebrations:
Champagne may be the ne plus ultra of sparkling wine, but wineries around the world produce delicious fizz in a variety of styles. These are usually made by the “Champagne method” of inducing the second (carbonation) fermentation in the bottle, but they achieve their own expressions because of the grape varieties used or the soil and climate where they were grown. Here are five outstanding examples of sparkling wine from unexpected places.
Tsepelos, Amalia Brut
3 Stars GREAT VALUE
Made from the moschofilero grape, a Greek variety that produces lush and fruity white wines, this delicious sparkler bursts with ripe peach flavors and a lovely floral note that suggests a Mediterranean garden. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.
Steininger Gruner Veltliner Sekt 2010/2011
If you love gruner veltliner, as I do, you will love the addition of bubbles. This is one of Austria’s leading sparkling wines, from an excellent gruner grower. So look for all the hallmarks of the grape – lemongrass, talc and exotic tropical fruit – plus fizz. Sekt is the German word for sparkling wine. The importer is currently transitioning from the 2010 to the 2011 vintage. Both are worth trying. (Insider’s tip: Austrian winemakers are very excited about the 2011 vintage.) ABV: 13.5 percent.
Fitz Riesling Sekt Extra Trocken
Pfalz, Germany, $20
Riesling lovers will appreciate the ripe apricot flavors and nearly imperceptible sweetness of this endearing bubbly. Like the Steininger, this is a nice expression of its grape variety, with bubbles. ABV: 11.5 percent.
2 Stars GREAT VALUE
New Mexico, $17
This popular sparkling wine from New Mexico, made by a French family from Champagne, is one of the best values in U.S. bubbly and proof that excellent wine can be made throughout the United States, not just on the West Coast. If you insist on telling your guests you’re pouring them Champagne but you have a beer budget, this is the bubbly for you. ABV: 12 percent.
Paringa Sparkling Shiraz 2009
South Australia, $18
Sparkling shiraz is an Aussie oddity, and an acquired taste. Better ones, like this example from Paringa, exhibit that sweet jammy, herbal character of shiraz with an invigorating jolt of fizz. ABV: 13.5 percent.
(The ratings: I use a three star scale, with half stars allowed, labeled as Very Good, Excellent, and Exceptional. This is more a gauge of my enthusiasm for the wine rather than an objective description of quality.)