Toasting with sparkling wines as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is a tradition in many countries and cultures. Why? Because it’s fun! The tradition of drinking champagne to mark celebrations originated in the royal courts of Europe in the 18th century, where the expensive beverage was regarded as a status symbol. It still is today, although if you forgo drinking champagne and opt for sparkling wine, the price goes down significantly.
Champagne from France
If you’re planning to pop a cork this year, here are a few suggestions to consider.
When talking about sparkling wines, one has to start with the real thing – that is, champagne.
This year we sampled champagne from two famous houses – Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.
The Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial, with its perfect balance of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, has become one of the world’s most loved and popular champagnes. It is characterized by bright fruitiness and elegant maturity.
The palate reveals subtle pear, citrus and brioche notes. This champagne will be sold for NIS 220.
Also tasted this year was the Rosé Impérial, a blend of the three classic wine varieties with an emphasis on Pinot Noir, embodying a fruity and daring character, a rose color with shades of copper. Good intensity and lively aromas dominated by the scent of wild strawberries. (NIS 220 ).
Two Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2000 that i was lucky enough to sip, are for serious drinkers. These champagnes from the 2000 harvest are fantastic. So if you get a chance to taste them don't hesitate (NIS 399 and up) .
Belonging to the same company, the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label is also one of the most recognized and loved champagnes around the world.
The predominance of Pinot Noir provides the structure that is typically Clicquot, while a touch of Pinot Meunier rounds out the blend. Chardonnay adds the elegance and finesse essential in a perfectly balanced wine (NIS 249).
The Veuve Clicquot Rose has a luscious, fruit-based charm. The wine works its magic. This delectably full champagne can be enjoyed as a true delicacy. A deliciously fruity wine in early bloom, this is a wonderful aperitif to be shared as a twosome or with friends. (NIS 249) The Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec (semisweet) was served, to our surprise, from a decanter. Although nowadays many prefer dry champagne, in the beginning all champagnes were quite sweet, and this wine is a tribute to history. Still, it is very pleasant and perfect with chocolate and rich desserts. (NIS 279) From Spain
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava is very popular worldwide. The classic Catalonian cava, made according to the champagne method, comes in the familiar black bottle, is crisp and creamy, with delicate bubbles, and its price makes it ideal for every occasion.
Special price for New Year: two bottles for NIS 99. Available at the Wine and More chain and other wine shops.
Shaked imports bring many sparkling wines to Israel. This year they chose to recommend the Cava Faustino Extra Seco, a Spanish Cava made from Macabeo and Chardonnay grapes. It’s a classic Cava that makes for a very nice aperitif. Available at Derech Hayayin stores and other wine stores. It is very good value at NIS 60.
Produced from a blend of traditional Cava grapes (50% Macabeo, 40% Parellada and 10% Xarel-Lo), Vilarnau Cava Demi (NV) is a pale lemon color, has fruit aromas of green apple, complemented by a hint of pear and fresh bread flavors carried over from the nose. Serve it with desserts, especially chocolate. NIS 79.From Italy
Imported to Israel by the Scottish Company, try two sparkling wines from north Italy’s famous winery Bottega.
The Bottega Rose Gold and Bottega Spumante Diamond make for an impressive gift, mainly because of their bottles but also thanks to the taste.
The Bottega Rosé Prosecco, made from Pinot Noir grapes, is presented in a decorative rose gold bottle, making it a stunning gift. The flavor is of fresh red fruit with some notes of strawberry, cream and vanilla.
The Bottega Spumante Diamond, also 100% Pinot Noir, comes in a bottle decorated with a dazzling diamante detail logo.
This is a classic sparkling dry wine that has a vibrant light golden color and elegant bouquet.
Available at wine stores and Tiv Ta’am stores. NIS 150.
Also from Italy, the new flowery bottle of Martini Brut is a vibrant and dry wine, made from white Muscat grapes. It is fruity, has low acidity and is very easy to drink as an aperitif. NIS 70.
Other sparkling wines by Martini are the Asti, an aromatic sweet sparkling wine (NIS 68) and the Martini Rosé, a really lovely wine – well balanced, dry, crispy and fruity with aromas of rose and violet. NIS 65.
Euro Standard Imports brings the sparkling wines by Italian winemaker Gancia, priced at NIS 49. All their sparkling wines are made using the champagne method and include the Brut, dry and fresh; the Asti DOCG, sweet and fresh; the lovely Rosé; and the Rosso, red sparkling wine.
Beringer Sparkling Zinfandel Rosé, imported by France-Israel Wines, is a celebratory wine, fresh and fruity with notes of strawberry and citrus made with Zinfandel grapes. The aroma shows lifted floral notes, while the palate is delightfully mellow with notes of strawberry and citrus. Sweet and balanced, this wine will be loved by your guests. Great value at NIS 69.From Israel
Next week, in his “Wine Talk” column, Adam Montefiore will write his annual sparkling-wine story and will elaborate on the local options. Still, I wanted to mention the sparkling wines I tried and loved by our taters this year.
To start off, there is the Golan Heights sparkling-wines collection. It includes the 2009 Rosé, an elegant pink sparkling wine made according to the champagne method, from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. It is fresh and aromatic and a joy to drink. Available in restaurants and wine stores, its recommended price is NIS 130.
Also in the collection are the Yarden Blanc de Blancs 2007, a complex crispy wine that shows off bright lemon and floral notes complemented by lime and green apple characters, rounded out by a touch of mineral and hints of toasted baguette. The wine is wonderful on its own served as an aperitif or as a companion to rich or salty hors d’oeuvres. NIS 120.
The Gamla Hashmura Brut is a very fresh and lively wine that makes for a great choice. NIS 60.
The Teperberg 2012 Brut, made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% French Colombard grapes grown in Mevo Horon, is a greenish colored sparkling wine, crisp with aromas of yeast and white fruit. It is a great wine to toast the New Year and offers good value at NIS 69.
So buy the best bubbly you can afford and have a great New Year’s Eve.