Besides noisemakers, party hats, and the big ball that drops at midnight, I can't think of anything more iconic on New Year's Eve than glasses and bottles of bubbles. I couldn't even begin to imagine the billions—no, more likely trillions—of bubbles that will appear in glasses here in Utah. After all, the California Wine Institute estimates that there are approximately 44 million bubbles in a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne. That's a lot of bubbles.
Here are a trio of my favorite Champagne picks to put in your glass to welcome 2015—something for every budget.
Good: At a gathering hosted recently by Park City's Talisker on Main restaurant, I was introduced to a gorgeous yet not-too-pricey Rosé sparkling wine. I think Rosé bubbly brings an added panache to any New Year's Eve festivity, and this one does so without breaking the bank. Ever since it was founded in 1840, Simonnet-Febvre has focused on sparkling wines from Chablis, today called Crémant de Bourgogne. A wine I'd be proud to pour for my guests and myself on New Year's Eve is Simonnet-Febvre Crémant Rosé ($22.99). It's 100 percent Pinot Noir Rosé Crémant, made using the classic Méthode Champagnoise. It's dry, with a creamy mousse, but vibrant on the palate with peach, apricot, strawberry and tangerine flavors—a tremendous value.
Runner-up: Gruet Rosé ($18.99).
Better: Sleek, sophisticated, graceful and elegant—those are a few of the words that come to mind in describing the 2006 Grand Vintage Brut from Moët & Chandon ($59.99). The 2006 growing year was an excellent one for Champagne grapes, as evidenced by this beautiful blend of 42 percent Chardonnay, 39 percent Pinot Noir and 19 percent Pinot Meunier (the classic grapes used to make French Champagne).With the 2006 Grand Vintage, Moët & Chandon winemaker Benoît Gouez has created a gorgeous wine that combines longstanding winemaking tradition with New Millennium modernism, particularly in his choice ofassemblage—the relative proportions of the three grape varietals, which Gouez chose based on the fruits' particular qualities, as opposed to once-accepted conventions regarding properassemblagequantities. The result is exceptional.
The Grand Vintage bead (the bubbles) is fine and jewel-like; the hue of the wine is light yellow. On the nose, there are abundant fruit aromas: mango, banana, white peach and hints of lemon. Meanwhile on the palate, the Champagne is lively, crisp and bright, with spice and marzipan flavors mixed with nectarine and currants, plus a creamy richness.
Runner-up: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($35.99).
Best: Founded in 1584 by Pierre Gosset, Gosset is the oldest and one of the most prestigious wine producers in France's Champagne region. The name Gosset is synonymous with luxury. And yet, Gosset Grande Réserve Brut NV is a luscious bang-for-the-buck, priced at a mere $65.35. The assemblage is 43 percent Chardonnay, 42 percent Pinot Noir and 15 percent Pinot Meunier, sourced entirely from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. Although it's a non-vintage Champagne, Gosset Grande Réserve is a blend of three "superior vintages," and spends five years resting on the lees prior to release.
The distinctive Gosset house style is characterized by fine, light bubbles with an elegant, floral bouquet. On the tongue, the Champagne is concentrated and full-bodied, with roasted almond and coffee notes, bright crispness, and a long finish. The antique bottle style and attractive cherry & gold labeling just add to the appeal of this excellent Champagne.
Runner-up: Jean Lallement Champagne Brut Réserve NV ($60.85).