Bette Davis said, “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne.”
For me, that time is any time.
Of course, to officially be called Champagne, the sparkling elixir must be produced in the eponymous region in northeastern France where winemakers perfected the méthode champenoise, a traditional way to make sparkling wine that requires a second fermentation in the bottle, along with dozens of other manual manipulations. Big brands like Dom Perignon, Krug, Veuve Cliquot and Moët & Chandon are familiar names, but they are not the only effervescent game in town.
Whether raised in honor of the new year or to toast a new job, sparkling wines have been the guest of honor at celebrations around the world for as long as people have been saying, “Cheers,” “Santé” and “Prost.”
These Bay Area experts reveal what they will be serving (and coveting) at their celebrations this year.
Anthony Kim, bartender at Redwood Room at Clift Hotel, 495 Geary St.
“For my personal celebrations, I prefer to stick a little closer to home so I usually reach for the Iron Horse Vineyards Classic Vintage Brut, currently the 2010. This $42 domestic sparkler holds its own against most any Champagne while showcasing a bit more of the fruit flavor that the California sun provides. I can’t wait to go up to Iron Horse’s Green Valley tasting room (www.ironhorsevineyards.com
) and take in the stellar view while sampling their whole lineup.”
Paula Moulton, Sonoma-based viticulturist, award-winning winemaker and published author
“I will go with my two California best-loved sparkling wines. The first is one of my personal favorites from Breathless Wines (www.breathlesswines.com
) ($30-$32), a new company featuring beautiful fruit-forward sparkling wine started by three sisters in Sonoma County. The second comes from Shramsberg (www.schramsberg.com
) ($28-$110) in Napa County, an established winery that has been producing outstanding sparkling wines for many years. Both of these sparkling winemakers use old-world techniques closely resembling the traditional method méthode champenoise.”
Luke Kenning, wine director at Farallon restaurant, 450 Post St.
“For me the holidays is a time to break out the good stuff and party like its 2015! Ulysse Colin, Paul Bara (champagnepaulbara.com
), Vilmart & Cie (champagnevilmart.fr
) are a few small grower producers you will find on my wish list this year. For the office holiday party or potluck at your friend’s house, I would recommend a good Crémant de Bourgogne or Loire. They share similar soils to Champagne but will be one-third of the price. You also might get lucky and find something from Patrick Piuze (www.patrickpiuze.com
Note: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant (www.kermitlynch.com
) in Berkeley is an importer and distributor of a wide selection of fine French Champagnes, crémants and other sparkling wines.
Ceri Smith, owner of Biondivino Wine Boutique, 1415 Green St.
“I love the beautifully dry and complex Col Fondo Proseccos that are finally out, especially from the uber-small producer Carolina Gatti, which is cloudy, salty and so delicious on its own, but especially with oysters.”
Shelly Lindgren, wine director and co-owner of A16, 2355 Chestnut St.
“Even though sparkling wines have been produced in Italy since before it was a unified country in 1861, it had far and wide been thought that Prossecco from Moscato d’Asti were the only Italian sparkling wines. Today, you can find lots of variety in sparkling. For A16 over the holidays, we have selected the Ca’ del Bosco, Franciacorta from Lombardy, the Ferrari Perle from Trento, Le Vigne di Alice “G” (www.levignedialice.it/en
) from Valdobbiadene, Veneto, and Roederer Estate Rose (www.roedererestate.com
) from Anderson Valley, California. All of these hand-crafted sparkling wine are produce d in a méthode champenoise. It’s hard to select which one to drink from the list, we love them all.”Kimberley Lovato has been writing about travel, food and drink for the last 20 years and has never met a happy hour she didn’t like. She writes at