"The pleasure is visual; it’s aural, as in the seductive sound of a pop and pour; and it’s tactile."
- Eric Asimov, The New York Times
What is not to like about a bottle of something bubbly? When 5 o'clock rolls around (and in 2020, 5 o'clock is occasionally 2 or 3 o'clock), the Flatiron philosophy is to crack open a bottle of bubbles, no matter the type, and pour everyone a glass. In our minds, it's the most convivial type of tipple.
Imagine our pleasure, then, when we spotted a recent column in the New York Times from the esteemed Eric Asimov — a column encouraging readers to celebrate even the mundane with 12 bottles of fizzy wine, and not a Champagne among them. All of our favorites, from every corner of the winemaking world and from myriad varieties, were represented.
Here there are with notes:
AT Roca, Classic Penedès Brut Reserva Metode Tradicional, 2016
A gorgeous sparkling wine from one of Spain's most recently founded DO: Classic Penedès. The rules are strict: organic certification is required, and all wines must be aged a minimum of 15 months on the lees (compared to Cava’s 9) and vintage-dated. Ever-so-slightly herbaceous, with notes of crisp green pear and lime zest.
Raventós i Blanc, Conca de Riu Anoia Rosé de Nit, 2017
A dash of Monastrell (5%) adds a touch of color to a very classical Xarel-lo wine from Northern Catalonia, that puts most Cava to shame. Outstanding, better than many Rosé Champagnes at twice the price or more. Like AT Roca, the Raventos family has eschewed the more traditional Cava DO, choosing to focus on the unique terroir of the region rather than pumping out as much juice as possible.
von Winning, Riesling Sekt Extra Brut, NV
Smells like freshly picked white peaches. On the palate there is fresh lime and plenty of salt. Pure and fresh like flowing water. There are white flowers and a long, complex, balanced finish. The bubbles compliment instead of distract and add a lot of fun to an already delicious base wine. We could drink this all day.
Château de Brézé (Arnaud Lambert), Crémant de Loire, NV
With its cool climate and limestone-rich soils, Brézé (a village nestled in the AOC of Saumur) has long been considered one of France's greatest white wine sites. We are bending the rules a bit with this crémant, which has tons of Chenin character but also a bit of Chardonnay blended in. It's a beautiful, easygoing sparkler with fine bubbles and notes of fresh cut apple, piña colada and flint-smoke.
J. Brix, Cobolorum Pét-Nat, 2019
Cobolorum (Latin for "goblin") comes from the esteemed Kick On Ranch Vineyard in Santa Barbara, a cool and windy plot that allows grapes to retain freshness and good acidity. This organic Riesling pét-nat is juicy and fresh, and tastes like sun-warmed honeydew melon and peaches. Delicious and balanced, with effusive bubbles. How many wines do you know that come with an instruction manual? Unfined, unfiltered and fermented with indigenous yeasts, with no added SO2.
Domaine de Montbourgeau, Crémant du Jura, NV
Montbourgeau, a century-old estate based in the Jura village of L'Etoile (so named for the prodigious amount of star-shaped fossils in the soils, formed when ancient seas dried up), produces one of our favorite crémants. Welcoming fruit (apple, pear, a hint of lemon zest) combine with chalky, slightly saline minerality for a complex, but easy-drinking bottle of bubbly. A fine beverage to start off the evening but interesting and weighty enough to drink with a meal, start to finish.
Chëpika, Finger Lakes Catawba Pet-Nat, 2019
Chëpika is a collaboration between Finger Lakes winemaker Nathan Kendall and star NYC sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, focusing on Catawba and Delaware, two American hybrid grapes; these grapes provide an entirely new sensory experience, with an opulent perfume and a light, fruity style. From a clay-heavy site on the east side of Keuka Lake, this is a bright and crunchy pét-nat, with zippy, cranberry acidity. Bottled without any SO2 (during winemaking or at bottling) and with no dosage.
Aphros, Vinho Verde Phaunus Petillant Natural Rosé, 2019
This is not the Vinho Verde you think you know — everything at Aphros is left of center, from the way the they farm (biodynamically, rare in the region) and vinfiy (in a medieval, electricty-less cellar). And the wines are hauntingly unique; this blend of Alvarelhão and Vinhão is funky, crunchy and near-shatteringly crisp. Light in color and texture, this is an assertive bottle of bubbles.
Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups [Jacky Blot], Montlouis Petillant 'Brut Tradition', NV
Few winemakers have come to define an appellation like Jacky Blot has come to define Montlouis-Sur-Loire. He’s an authority on Chenin Blanc, and his wines are dynamic, enchanting distillations of this noble grape. His Brut Tradition is from 40-year old vines planted on clay, silex and limestone-rich soils. By fermenting and aging the wine totally in oak barrels, he allows its oxidative richness to shine; there are pastry-like notes of honey, buttered toast and seashell, all bound together by energetic freshness.
Ferrando, Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante Metodo Classico Brut, 2012
Ferrando is a Rosenthal mainstay — we love their Carema when we're looking for pure, fresh and Alpine Nebbiolo — and they work tirelessly to preserve the traditions of Piedmont. Erbaluce is perhaps Piedmont's finest white grape variety, and its name is an insight into its qualities: there's a distinct grassy, herbaceous quality (erbe) and a bright, clear energy (luce). Just a tiny amount of this wine is produced each vintage, and the bubbles amplify Erbaluce's unique delights: orchard fruits, a subtle verdant quality and bright, blazing acid.
Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun), Beaujolais Sparkling FRV 100 Rosé, NV
Jean-Paul Brun's Domaine des Terres Dorées has long been a go-to for wonderfully honest Beaujolais. We'd be happy drinking his simple, old-vine Beaujolais, but there's a certain joy expressed in his sparkling rosé of Gamay, lightly sweet and prettily frothy. Like all of the best Beaujolais, there's a minerality that shines through Gamay's exuberant fruit — in this case, lent by the limestone soils on which the grapes are grown – and turns a simple wine into something more cerebral.
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