Come December/January, everyone looks for recommendations for bubbles. Ever-y-one. How about sparklers to sip into the holidays? These are all affordable, available and delicious!
 
DaLuca prosecco
The color on the DaLuca prosecco is a pale straw, clear and bright with a fine persistent bead.
It is clean and lifted, bright aromas of lemon peel, jasmine and passion fruit.
With a taste that is fresh, zingy citric flavours with attractive palate weight rounded by balanced fruit sweetness. Long and persistent with pinapple notes and a clean mouth-watering finish.
A wine as popular as prosecco needs no introduction. This one from Da Luca (SRP: $14) is exactly what you look for—fresh, zingy citrus flavors balanced by fruity sweetness.
Balletto 2013 Brut Rose
The coral color sets the stage, and the tiny, persistent bubbles confirm that this is a serious sparkler. The aromas are integrated and full with a dollop of cherry-strawberry that highlights the core mineral focus. Delicate, pretty & delicious.
The wine is full flavored and textured throughout, and the finish is crisp and lasting with a wonderful tickling-bubble sensation. A light, yeasty mid-palate — with both weight and flavors — lifts and carries this wine to the finish.
The wine, 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay, was all grown on Balletto’s estate Russian River Valley vineyards. The grapes were lightly whole-cluster pressed and fermented in both stainless steel (Pinot Noir) and old neutral oak (Chardonnay.) The Chardonnay was sent through 100 percent malolactic fermentation for added depth and texture.
Made in the traditional manner of completing an in-bottle fermentation to create the bubbles, this wine was then left on the yeast cells for three years before it was disgorged. It’s amazing what happens to the flavors of a sparkling wine when it sits that long. The mid-palate texture builds, and the aromas shift to incorporate a yeasty sensation. The idea behind the brut rose is to capture enough bottle and lees aging, while maintaining a touch of red fruit, a crisp focus and minerality. Dosage was kept low (4.5 g/L) to balance the bubbles and highlight the rest.
Balletto Vineyards is one of the few family-owned estate wineries in the Russian River Valley, a region renowned for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties traditionally used for sparkling wine. The Balletto Vineyards 2013 Brut Rosé (SRP: $44) is elegant with plenty of racing acidity and has just a tinge of pink.
 
Balletto 2014 Chardonnay Sexton Hill
The coral color sets the stage, and the tiny, persistent bubbles confirm that this is a serious sparkler. The aromas are integrated and full with a dollop of cherry-strawberry that highlights the core mineral focus. Delicate, pretty & delicious.
The wine is full flavored and textured throughout, and the finish is crisp and lasting with a wonderful tickling-bubble sensation. A light, yeasty mid-palate — with both weight and flavors — lifts and carries this wine to the finish.
The wine, 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay, was all grown on Balletto’s estate Russian River Valley vineyards. The grapes were lightly whole-cluster pressed and fermented in both stainless steel (Pinot Noir) and old neutral oak (Chardonnay.) The Chardonnay was sent through 100 percent malolactic fermentation for added depth and texture.
Made in the traditional manner of completing an in-bottle fermentation to create the bubbles, this wine was then left on the yeast cells for three years before it was disgorged. It’s amazing what happens to the flavors of a sparkling wine when it sits that long. The mid-palate texture builds, and the aromas shift to incorporate a yeasty sensation. The idea behind the brut rose is to capture enough bottle and lees aging, while maintaining a touch of red fruit, a crisp focus and minerality. Dosage was kept low (4.5 g/L) to balance the bubbles and highlight the rest.
2014 Chardonnay Cider Ridge
This is an elegant Chardonnay wrapped in floral prettiness, bright fruit and a gorgeous structure that’s layered with natural acidity and a lush, perfect texture. It’s balanced and elegant, yet intense and delicious.
The wine has an awesome apricots-and-cream sensation that’s tempered with savory ginger, tangerine and wild honeysuckle aromatics that are difficult to forget. The acidity and notable tannins lend tension and length to the wine and nicely contrast its rich texture. This is true Chardonnay that can’t be made from just anywhere.
Located at 950-foot elevation about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Cider Ridge Vineyard has west-facing slopes and near -perfect sun exposure that contrasts its cold, foggy and windy location. The resulting wines have intense flavors and aromas with a defining structure.
Growing and making outstanding barrel-fermented Chardonnay is one of the most difficult tasks in winemaking. Wente and Robert Young clones from Cider Ridge were gently whole-cluster pressed and fermented in barrel without adding commercial yeast. This slows down the fermentation and allows for a lifted aromatic profile. The wine was aged in barrel for 18 months to soften the acidity and add texture. The extra time and attention certainly paid off. The proof is in the bottle.
 
Balletto 2015 Pinot Noir Sexton Hill
The 2015 Sexton Hill Vineyard is that rare pinot that’s elegant and beautifully layered, yet chock-full of intensity.
The wine opens subtlety with dry earth, spice and black tea, followed by a light kiss of dark fruit in the background. Juicy acidity lights up the palate...and then the wine begins to showoff. It’s a light-weight that manages to come across as powerful. It gains momentum through it’s structure and balance, with all its elements merging simultaneously into one complete sensation. This wine will reward those with the patience to savor and understand everything that’s going on.
Sexton Hill Vineyard, with its steep hillsides, Goldridge soil and a non-traditional (think cold) northern exposure, lies about 10 miles from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. Protected from direct afternoon sun, the grapes planted here produce concentrated and structured wines.
Pinot Noir is one of the most expressive grape varietals grown. So we grow and harvest our grapes to showcase the uniqueness of our estate vineyards, maintain brisk natural acidity and have lower alcohol levels. We ferment exclusively with indigenous yeast in small six-ton open tops, and age our finished wine in French oak barrels with new oak used sparingly to enhance the wine, not dominate it. The result is serious Pinot Noir with depth, structure and finesse. Wines to savor.
Balletto 2015 Pinot Noir BCD Vineyard
The 2015 BCD pinot is bright and dark simultaneously, with mocha and earth aromas playing off fresh cherries. It has a wide and silky palate, booming aromas and just enough acidity and tannins to pull the wine through to a long and lasting finish. It’s quite a ride.
Under the initial aromas is a distinct and interesting orange/citrus and spice undertone that aromatically lifts the wine, but it’s the mid-palate weight and texture that define it. It’s full and coating, start to finish, wave upon wave of pinot pleasure.
BCD Vineyard is located on rolling hills that lead up to the Coastal mountain range. Cold fog flows in from the nearby Pacific Ocean in the late evening and covers the vineyard until midmorning. The climate and soils allow the fruit to slowly develop and make the unique character of this wine.
Pinot Noir is one of the most expressive grape varietals grown. So we grow and harvest our grapes to showcase the uniqueness of our estate vineyards, maintain brisk natural acidity and have lower alcohol levels. We ferment exclusively with indigenous yeast in small six-ton open tops, and age our finished wine in French oak barrels with new oak used sparingly to enhance the wine, not dominate it. The result is serious Pinot Noir with depth, structure and finesse. Wines to savor.
Balletto Vineyards makes all of its wine from sustainably-farmed estate vineyards located throughout the cool southern third of the Russian River Valley. It is one of the few Russian River wineries to be 100 percent estate grown and estate bottled, and specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are consistently elegant, balanced and delicious.
 
The region of Limoux produces some remarkable wine.  This appellation in Languedoc, in the south of France, is an oasis of sparkling wine production in a region heavily focused on reds. Wines are made using méthode traditionnelle – the same method used in Champagne – so you get Champagne quality for half the price (typically $15 - $25). Look for “Crémant de Limoux” or “Blanquette de Limoux” on the label. The difference? Grape varieties. Blanquette is nearly all Mauzac, a local variety; Crémant de Limoux uses Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and a few others.
 
Cremant de Bourgogne is the designation for the sparkling wines of Bourgogne. Made predominantly from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay using methode traditionelle, wines can be ‘blanc de blanc’ or ‘blanc de noir’ – or even rosé! Priced typically between $15 and $30.
 
Holidays are always merrier with beautiful glasses of sparkling wines!