Enjoy tiny bubbles of sparkling wine at some tiny prices

Explosive taste: Bubbly wines don’t have to come from Champagne to please the palate. Many regions produce wines that can add sparkle to any occasion. Just be sure to uncork responsibly.

The last quarter of the year starts in just a few weeks, and if you are in the sparkling wine business that means you have dollar signs for eyes. I’m more than happy to drink bubbles any time of year (or day), but Q4 and Valentine’s Day, are when most sane people stock up on fizz.

Champagne will be saved for later in the year, as it does not fit our $15-and-under mold. Cava, prosecco, sekt and California sparkling wines also will be postponed until the air gets crisper. But for Indian summer, I can think of three sparkling wines that are perfect sippers. The medals go to:

François Montand Brut Blanc de Blancs, NV (France): Montand is based in the Jura region, but the grapes are sourced from other areas of the country. Originally from Champagne,
François Montand migrated south to the free zone of the Jura during World War II. Given his roots, he would not have dreamed of making sparkling wine in any way other than methode champenoise, where the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. Composed of ugni blanc, colombard and chardonnay, this is a delicate sparkler with notes of honey, vanilla, apples and fresh cream. Available at Solano Cellars.
Suggested retail: $15

Gruet Blanc de Noirs, NV (New Mexico): I wrote about Gruet Brut over the winter, but the Blanc de Noirs is every bit as good. A Champagne family, Gruet has been making sparkling wine in New Mexico for a quarter-century. Apricot-colored with minerals and tart, subtle red berries, this is every bit as good as other domestic wines that cost much more. Available at Andronico’s, Bi-Rite, D&M Wine Co., The Jug Shop, Plumpjack Wine Shop, Noe Valley Wine Merchants, Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods.
Suggested retail: $15

Brazilier “B” Rose Pineau d’Aunis, NV (Loire Valley, France): If I were allowed to use expletives here to describe this wine, I would. Tasting it blind, I said I was willing to pay about $25 for it. Try $15.
Jean Brazilier was making wine in the Coteaux du Vendômois way before it was granted appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 2001. His son, Benoit, joined him in 1997 and is now making the wines. Floral and minerally with tobacco underpinnings, a delicate mousse and long finish, this is hands down the best deal in sparkling wine. Available at Encuentro Oakland, Say Cheese SF.
Suggested retail: $15

Pamela S. Busch was the founding partner of Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bars, and is a wine educator and writer.

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