Pop the Cork! Toast to the Season With These Celebration-Ready Sparklers

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Festive celebrations call for sparkling wine. From inimitable Champagne to budget-friendly alternatives, here are favorite picks from top sommeliers for all your holiday toasting needs.

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Domaine du Moulin Methode Ancestrale Brut (Courtesy of Domaine du Moulin)

Domaine du Moulin Methode Ancestrale Brut, Gaillac, France

Pétillant naturel wines (roughly translates to natural sparkling) have the best deals you may find. My personal “coup de coeur” is made in southwest France, from the mauzac grape, by the Hirrissou family organic farming in Gaillac. It’s balanced, off-dry with fresh acidity, with notes of white pear and apples with wildflowers. Perfect for an apéritif with friends. $18

—Andre Compeyre, sommelier at Le Bilboquet Sag Harbor, New York

Château de Minière Bourgueil Bulles de Minière, Loire Valley, France

This red pétillant naturel strikes a sensory balance of fruit qualities and mineral qualities, giving the impression of raspberries on the nose and a chalky texture on the palate. We serve it cold from the fridge, but it benefits from a little exposure to ambient temperature. It is seductive and smooth, and surprisingly popular given that sparkling red wine is not in the mainstream. The vineyards and winery are farmed and operated biodynamically. $23

—Harrison Spellman, wine director at The Buttery, New York

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Scharffenberger Cellars Brut Rosé Excellence (Courtesy of Maisons Marques and Domaines USA)

Scharffenberger Cellars Brut Rosé Excellence, California

This winery has been pioneering super premium Mendocino California sparkling wine since 1981. This is a savory rosé with aromas of fresh raspberry jam and wild strawberries on a cream-covered pastry base. The flavors are fresh and fruity, making it a juicy bubble. $26

—Jen Saxby, sales and events manager at Benchmark Wine Group, Napa, California

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Bruno Dangin Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Blanche (Courtesy of Bruno Dangin)

Bruno Dangin Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Blanche, Burgundy, France

Bruno Dangin, for me, is the top value of all sparkling wines. It’s hard to top Champagne in terms of quality and simple enjoyment, but this comes as close as you can get at a very accessible price. Bruno Dangin is grown just on the outskirts of the Champagne region using the same techniques: two fermentations, bottle aging, and all the details. It is also farmed organically and sustainably. $29

—Cedric Nicaise, former wine director at Eleven Madison Park, co-owner and sommelier at The Noortwyck, New York 

Wilson Vineyard Maître de Chai Sparkling Chenin Blanc, California

This wine is made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise, meaning it undergoes a secondary fermentation (where it gets its bubbles) in the bottle instead of a tank. They allow the wine to age for eight months in bottle before releasing. The wine is gorgeous and floral. It has some notes of quince that remind me of the holidays, and the perfect amount of toasty richness to feel celebratory. $32

—Grace Ackerman, lead sommelier at Osito, San Francisco, California

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J. Lassalle Preference Premier Cru Brut (Courtesy of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant)

J. Lassalle Preference Premier Cru Brut, Champagne

This is one of my favorite producers, a family-run domaine currently being helmed by the second-generation female winemaker. There is a range of wines; the Preference is the entry-level and showcases the individuality of grower champagne. If you want to go further, check out the Special Club bottling. $50

—Cedric Nicaise

Frederic Savart L’Ouverture Premier Cru Brut, Champagne

For a little fancier of a selection, I’d go for a grower champagne. This blanc de noirs is 100 percent pinot noir from the clay-based soils of Écueil, all farmed organically in Montagne de Reims, Champagne. Aromas of crisp apple, with a strong chalky minerality. Enjoy with a creamy Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese. $62

—Andre Compeyre

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Krug Grande Cuvee (Shutterstock)

Krug Grande Cuvée Brut, Champagne

You can never go wrong with Krug. For me, it is the top expression of classic champagne houses. The Grande Cuvée is amazing, and so is the vintage (currently 2008). It is ageable, but generally easily drinkable on release. Krug makes a statement when you serve it, or as a gift. $233

—Cedric Nicaise

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2014 Louis Roederer Cristal Millesime Brut (Courtesy of Louis Roederer)

2014 Louis Roederer Cristal Millesime Brut, Champagne

Say “splurge” and Cristal 2014 cannot help but come to mind. A proper sparkling icon, it was created in 1876 for Tsar Alexander II, who asked Louis Roederer to create a cuvée for his personal use that was unique. Cristal is no short of this adjective: intense, with candied citrus fruit mixed with roasted almonds and ripe fruit, and silky on the palate with deliciously elegant bubbles. The finish builds to a crescendo, leading to long, saline, and superb notes. $310

—Jen Saxby

1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne

Should we imagine that extravagance is really not an issue, or you need ideas for an extra special gift, this is the most prestigious bottle I’ve been lucky to taste in my career. All grand cru chardonnay purity from a tiny walled vineyard in Mesnil, it is sensational, with an array of crushed rocks, minerals, and bright citrus. The elegance, the texture, the vinosity over the years, and the finest bubbles … If that magic was to happen again, I’d probably save it for my retirement! Over $2,000, if you can find it

—Andre Compeyre

Crystal Shi

Crystal Shi is the food editor for The Epoch Times. She is a journalist based in New York City.



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