Good Value, Quality Sparkling Wines from Alsace to the Russian River Valley

Sparkling wines from around the world are better than ever. They may not have the cachet of Champagne, but they’re priced lower, and the best ones are very good indeed. In this article, we review a selection of quality sparkling wines from Alsace, South Africa’s Breede River Valley, Catalunya, the Mosel, Prosecco, and the Russian River Valley.  Most of these sparklers are made using the méthode champenoise of secondary fermentation in the bottle, but some do the secondary fermentation in an autoclave (i.e. Charmat method). The tremendous commercial success of Prosecco demonstrates that consumers like well made, Charmat sparklers, especially when sold at a good price.  

The Wines

Flaunt 2019 Brut Russian River Valley ($48) 92  This Brut offers fresh and crisp aromas and flavors of ripe pear and a leesy fresh bread nose of toasted grain. It is mouth filling with a light creamy mouth feel and a long chalky finish with a certain sense of refinement. A blend of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir with 3 years en tirage.

Hansen-Lauer 2020 Riesling Brut Sekt Mosel ($27) 90  With its high acidity and bright fruit, Riesling can make excellent sparkling wine. This one is fresh and clean with firm acidity and pleasant aromas and flavors of orchard fruit and citrus. It doesn’t have the complexity of a Champagne that spend years on the lees, but it doesn’t have a Champagne price either. Made using the méthode champenoise with 12 months on the lees.

Rebuli NV Prosecco Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore ($30) 90+ Pale straw. Showing a nose of orchard pear with an accent of dried flowers, this Prosecco is soft, round and texturally very attractive on the palate. Very dry on the finish with lingering pear and white stone fruit flavors. 100% Glera; the secondary fermentation is done in autoclave until a pressure of 5 bars is reached.

Rebuli NV Prosecco Cartizze Grand Cru Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze ($51) 91  Pale straw. The Grand Cru reveals more depth of flavor and a refined mouth feel. The bouquet it bright and fresh with citrus and herbal notes; these are mirrored on the palate with nice complexity of flavors, finishing dry with good length. pH 3.10 11% alc.

Rubus NV Blanc de Blancs Brut France ($16) 90 This is an easy drinking, fresh and flavorful bubbly. Pear and grapefruit pith show on the nose, while the palate is crisp and nicely balanced. A bubbly for fun times. A blend of 30% Ugni Blanc, 30% Airen, 30% Colombard and 10% Chardonnay; RS 10 g/L  Exceptional value.

Rubus NV Brut Rosé France ($16) 90  Pale pink color. This sparkling rosé is exceedingly good value. It’s clean and fresh with a fine mousse. Light red berries show on the nose, and the palate has a nice clean feel and good acid-sugar balance. A superb party wine. A blend of 60% Tempranillo and 40% Bobal. RS 10 g/L.  Another exceptional value.

Tanzanite NV Brut Cap Classique Breede River Valley South Africa ($38) 91 Showing a fragrant bouquet of toasted nuts and lemon-like citrus, the Tanzanite Brut is balanced and fresh with notes of orchard and citrus fruit and brioche on a crisp, dry palate. The finish is persistent and very dry. Well made. A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir with 24+ months sur lie. 12% alc.

Torello NV Special Edition Brut Sparkling Catalunya (Corpinnat) ($37) 91  Medium yellow straw. Showing ripe citrus and orchard fruit on the nose with a touch of toasted grain. Firmly textured and quite boldly flavored with notes of tropical fruit flavors. Good acidity, finishing long and dry. Overall, a flavorful, fresh and well balanced sparkler. A blend of organically cultivated 44% Xarel.lo, 37% Macabeo, 11% Chardonnay, and 8% Parellada. Método Tradicional with more than 36 months on the lees. RS 5 g/L 11.5% alc.

Wolfberger NV Chardonnay Cremant d’Alsace ($27) 90  Light, gold tinged yellow straw showing ripe apple scents. This effervescent wine reveals straightforward, lush Chardonnay fruit on a creamy textured palate with a lingering, just-dry-enough finish. Very pleasant drinking and a great party wine. Made using the methode champenoise and given 30 months on the lees. Excellent value in a blanc de blancs.

Wolfberger NV Rosé Brut Cremant d’Alsace ($27) 90+ Medium copper-orange. Clean, bright bouquet showing notes of citrus and berries. Very fresh with bright cherry-raspberry flavors. A very easy to drink, nicely balanced, just off dry sparkler. Perfect with sushi. All Pinot Noir given a minimum of 15 months on the lees; RS 9 g/L.

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