Hand someone a glass of bubbly during the holidays. That’s it. That’s my advice. Do it as often as you can. We’ve had a big, busy and colorful 2019. Just drink a glass of good sparkling wine with family and friends, and relax.
The shelves are stacked this time of year with bubbly from around the world, and although America still loves Champagne and Prosecco, domestic sparklers remain a force in the market, delivering both quality and value. For more details, WineSpectator.com subscribers can read my recent domestic bubbly report (“United States of Bubbly"), for which I reviewed nearly 100 sparkling wines from California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico.
We all have our favorite splurge sparklers for the holidays, and I’ll mention a few of mine later, but let’s face it: Christmas is already cramping our budgets. Plus, it’s holiday party season and you want to share a good wine with the crowd without emptying your wallet.
If you’re looking for value, here are seven of my favorite sparkling wines. All of them are widely available and deliver a lot of pleasure and vibrancy. The most expensive is $23, but typically you’ll find these bottles steeply discounted this time of year.
Mumm Napa Brut Napa County Prestige NV (90 points, $23)
Lovely aromas of strawberry blossom and pippin apple are buoyed by snappy spice and yeast bread flavors that glide on a long finish.
Scharffenberger Brut Mendocino County Excellence NV (90, $20)
Vibrant and steely, with lemon, apple, creamy and toasted spice flavors, leading to a spirited finish.
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley NV (88, $13)
Snappy and vibrant with appealing pear, lemon and spice flavors.
Domaine Chandon Brut California NV (88, $18)
Sleek and crisp, with delicate apple and lemon flavors that glide along a lively finish.
Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma County Sonoma NV (88, $22)
Fresh and vibrant with easygoing, refreshing green apple and lime flavors.
Gruet Brut Rosé American NV (87, $19)
Lively with light-bodied cherry, spice and lemon flavors. Drink now.
Korbel Natural Russian River Valley 2016 (86, $16)
Snappy and easygoing with appealing apple, lemon and spicy anise flavors.
Selecting my top splurge wines is trickier—I tasted so many excellent domestic wines this past year—but here are four of my favorites.
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley L’Ermitage 2012 (95, $48)
This was our No. 5 wine of the Top 100 of 2019, the first domestic sparkling wine to crack the Top 10. It’s extravagant yet balanced and refined, with lush, crisp brioche, fresh ginger and spice, roasted hazelnut and Asian pear flavors that fan out on the lengthy finish.
Domaine Carneros Blanc de Blancs Carneros Le Rêve 2012 (93, $115)
Year after year, one of my best-loved bubblies. Compelling, impeccably focused and structured, with vibrant apple and Asian pear flavors, laced with brioche and roasted nut accents that glide on the long finish.
Iron Horse Brut Rosé Green Valley of Russian River Valley LD 2011 (93, $110)
I’m charmed by the delicacy of an aged rosé. Distinctive, with a touch of age, this is hardly a typical bubbly blush. Flavors and aromas of peach and strawberry combine with notes of yeast roll, candied ginger and toasted almond.
Schramsberg J. Schram North Coast 2010 (93, $120)
I’m a sucker for the flamboyance of the J. Schram style. It’s opulent yet impeccably structured, featuring apple and lemon tart flavors, laced with notes of roasted nuts and spicy cinnamon that glide on a plush finish.