New Year's Eve 2012 | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

December 22, 2011 News » Cover Story

New Year's Eve 2012 

All you need to ring in NYE in SLC

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Champagne, Prosecco, Moscato and more for ringing in the new year

By Ted Scheffler

It’s a no-brainer to be buying bubbly to celebrate the New Year—that’s Cristal clear. However, sparkling wine shouldn’t be just a once-a-year or special-event beverage. There’s almost never a time when bubbly isn’t a good fit. It’s great for fancy food pairings or as Netflix Helper, sipping on the couch on movie night with a bowl of popcorn. And, you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy a glass of bubbly; there’s sparkling wine to fit every budget.

So, here are a few of my favorites, for New Year’s Eve or any other eve. Many sparkling wines are on sale this month, so you may find even better deals than the ones listed here.

Let’s begin with domestic sparkling wine, which, of course, isn’t called Champagne since it’s not from Champagne. A recent discovery for me—and a sparkler that’s great as an aperitif or as a dessert wine—is Barefoot Bubbly Moscato Spumante ($11.99). Frankly, I’d expected this to be cloyingly sweet, but it isn’t. The sugar level is well-balanced by lush peach and apricot flavors. This is a fun, easy-drinking wine with which to greet guests on New Year’s Eve before cracking open the more expensive stuff. Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry ($11.99) is Barefoot’s brut-style sparkler, the opposite of its Spumante, and a terrific bang for the buck for big parties. Another terrific domestic-bubbly bargain is Gruet Brut ($15.99), which comes from New Mexico, of all places. However, this is very much a French sparkler in style, a méthode Champenoise wine that tastes like the real stuff, at about a third of the price of non-vintage Champagne.

A couple of wines from the domestic branch of Mumm should be on your radar screen: Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($21.99) is a lively, off-dry, salmon-pink wine with hints of cherries and strawberries—a very nice intro-level Rosé sparkler. And, for a special California treat, I suggest picking up a bottle of very classy (both in packaging and taste) DVX 2001 by Mumm ($33.99). The tiniest of bubbles, along with yummy toasted brioche flavors and creamy vanilla, combine to make this a very elegant and complex wine with a lingering finish. If DVX were from France, you could probably expect to pay at least $100 for it.

Another favorite domestic Rosé sparkling wine is Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé ($26.99). In my opinion, Schramsberg produces the best American bubbly overall, and this is no exception. Crafted from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this is a mildly creamy wine in texture, with toasty vanilla flavors, strawberries and raspberries—“Damn tasty,” as Robert Parker recently tweeted.

While we’re still in the New World, let’s take a trip to the Southern Hemisphere. Taltarni 2008 Taché Brut ($17.95) comes from Southeastern Australia—a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (the classic varietals for most Champagne). This bubbly from down under has a fine mousse and salmon-pink color, courtesy of the red grapes (taché means “stained” in French; the wine is “stained” with those red grapes). It has good acidity balanced with concentrated fruit flavors: red currant and strawberry, primarily. For something unique on New Year’s Eve, why not serve up an Aussie sparkler?

To the Old World! First, from Spain, there are a couple of Cavas that I’m particularly fond of. Codorniu has been growing wine grapes and making wine in Spain since 1551 and is that country’s No. 1 Cava producer. Anna De Codorniu Brut ($13.99) is named for Codorniu’s heiress and is the first Cava to use Chardonnay in its cuvée. It’s 100 percent estate-produced and bottled in the méthode traditionelle. Made from Chardonnay and Parellada grapes, the wine is straw-colored, with fine bubbles and tropical-fruit fragrances and flavors—a Cava you can count on. Another of my very favorite Spanish Cavas—in part because it tastes more like French Champagne than Cava—is Marques de Gelida Brut ($16.99), made from Macabeo, Xarello, Parellada and Chardonnay. Thanks to Marques de Gelida’s yeasty green-apple notes, tiny bubbles and long finish, I’ve fooled people in blind tastings into thinking this was French Champagne. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better sparkling-wine value than this. And, it comes in a snazzy Veuve-colored orange and white bottle.

Prosecco—Italy’s signature bubbly—is a smart, economical choice for New Year’s Eve, or any occasion calling for sparkling wine. I love the sleek, classy, dark bottle that Stellina di Notte Prosecco ($14.99) comes in, as well as what’s inside that bottle. This is a light, fruity Prosecco that is crisp and off-dry—a delicate wine with hints of pear and melon and a touch of sweetness. One of the Proseccos I’ve enjoyed most this year is La Marca Prosecco ($13.99). It made Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines of the Year” a few years ago and is brimming with effervescent white-peach, honeysuckle and green-apple aromas, a creamy texture, soft and elegant citrus-fruit flavors and a little toast. For a quality Prosecco that is drier than most, I suggest Adami Dei Casel Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco ($18.99). This is a very focused sparkler, with white-flower and jasmine fragrances and stone-fruit flavors—a really classy Prosecco choice. Finally, let me suggest a terrific sparkling wine from Italy that isn’t Prosecco: Rotari Talento Brut Rosé is a steal, priced at a mere $13.99.

And, finally, to France. There is no shortage of French bubbly in our state, and I’ve written about much of it previously. Here are a handful of can’t-miss sparkling wines from the country that invented the stuff.

Alsace and bubbles aren’t an obvious match, but I can readily recommend Pierre Sparr Rosé Brut Crémant D’Alsace ($18.99), a light, copper-colored, crémant-style sparkling wine with tangerine and clove aromas and surprisingly intense cherry and strawberry flavors for the price. I’ve long sung the praises of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut ($35.94), a terrific non-vintage Champagne priced lower than many: pale gold, with abundant bubbles and pretty pear and toasted-nut aromas. Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne ($60.99) is about as dependable as non-vintage Champagne gets, the purest expression of the Bollinger house style—in a word: classy. Ditto Gosset Grande Réserve Brut Champagne ($64.99), which comes equipped with Gosset’s signature toast and nut aromas, fine mousse, full body and classic Gosset complexity—not surprising, since this house (the Champagne region’s oldest) has been making fine Champagne since 1584. For something less predictable this New Year’s Eve, I suggest considering a “grower” Champagne from France. These are unique, artisan Champagnes, estate-grown and -bottled (as opposed to the big Champagne houses, which can use grapes from as many as 80 different vineyards). A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Brut Sainte-Anne ($44.99) offers abundant and lovely mousse, a bouquet of white flowers on the nose and loads of complexity—an incredible non-vintage Champagne for the price. For a few dollars
more, step up to another fantastic grower Champagne: Jean Lallement et Fils Champagne Brut ($53.99). This is a gorgeous wine, simultaneously subtle and complex, with beautiful floral notes, ripe pear flavors and underlying minerality. It would turn any occasion into a very special one.

Finally, as I’ve said before, my personal favorite Champagne is Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 1997 (but I’ll take any vintage). However, priced at $329.99, there won’t be any Salon flowing on my New Year’s Eve. So, if you’re pouring Salon at your party, please invite me!

More New Year's Eve
Concerts & Parties
Champagne | SLC Dining Spots
International Food Traditions
New Year's Day Brunch
Resorts & Excursions

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