Sunday, December 25, 2005

'Tis the Season for Bubbly

Happy Holidays! 'Tis the season when people ask me what bubbly to serve at holiday parties and NYE Celebrations. You are all in luck; I just published a feature on bubbly in The Complete Event and Meeting Planner magazine for DC area meeting planners. Hope these suggestions will be useful in choosing the perfect bubbly for your next soiree.

Note: Champagne is a region located 90 miles northeast Paris. The French have strict laws as to what grapes can be grown and where they can be grown within that region. Only sparkling wines from the Champagne region can bear the name "Champagne."

Champagne....In the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk and cellarmaster named Dom Perignon first tasted the fermented drink, he gasped, "I must be drinking stars!" No wonder then that Champagne became synonymous with festivity. The very word conjures visions of wedding receptions, holiday parties and New Year's Eve toasts.

Today, however, it simply costs too much when entertaining a large crowd. The dollar-euro exchange rate often makes matters worse, pushing up the cost of French wine. But don't despair: countless other wine regions produce sparkling wines as good as or better than the Real McCoy. Moreover, since some guests may not appreciate the yeasty flavor and high acidity of authentic Champagne, try one these at your next soiree.

Fox Creek Wines 'Vixen'
McLaren Vale, Australia

Style: Brut
Grapes: Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon
Average Retail: $18

A wine to make guests take notice: plump, with rich aromas of ripe blackberries, licorice and spice. Full-bodied and silky on the palate. Serve well-chilled. Perfect for sipping with prosciutto and melon, with hamburgers or simply wonderful on its own.

Robert de Schlumberger Brut 2001
Produced in Vienna, Austria, with grapes grown in Mendoza, Argentina

Style: Brut
Grapes: Chadonnay and Pinot Noir
Average Retail: $20

A unique partnership of Nicolas Catena of Bodega Catena Zapata of Argentina and the House of Schlumberger, the oldest sparkling wine producer in Austria. The fruit is grown, harvested and fermented into still wine at Catena's facility in Argentina, while the secondary bottle fermentation takes place in Vienna.

Notes of biscuit and honey with citrus and nut-like flavors on the palate. Crisp and clean finish. Pair with sushi, lobster bisque, quiche or grilled shrimp.

Pascual Toso Brut
Mendoza, Argentina

Style: Brut
Grapes: Chardonnay
Average Retail: $10

Light and fruity with apple, nut and floral notes. Round and full on the palate with a slight nuttiness on the finish. A perfect match for sushi, mussels, ceviche and shrimp.

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace
Alsace, France

Style: Brut
Grapes: Pinot Blanc
Average Retail: $16

A bit Champagne-like in style, with notes of bread, yeast and apples. Crisp, racy finish with a lingering aftertaste. Sublime with smoked salmon, seared scallops and pate.


Labels courtesy of the bubbly producers

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