Home Wine Business Editorial The Sparkling Winemakers’ Choice for a New Year’s Toast

The Sparkling Winemakers’ Choice for a New Year’s Toast

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We asked a few sparkling winemakers to share their wine recommendations for celebrating the new year, one of their own wines, and one from another winery that they enjoy. We hope you’ll find something new and exciting in their recommendations that can start your new year off with a great sparkling experience.

Tondi Bolkan, Winemaker for Francis Ford Coppola Winery

The wine brands I work on our the wines of our Sofia brand. These include our Sofia BdB, Sofia Mini, Sofia Rose, and Sofia Riesling and Chardonnay. Sparkling wines are fun to work on with my co-workers and share with my family & friends year round, not just around the holidays. There’s always a reason to celebrate.

But as we close 2016 and get into holiday party mode, New Year’s Eve is definitely THE best party to host. As the designated party hostess, I am always on alert for potential mess makers.  So to toast the New Year, I like serving and drinking our Sofia Minis. Our Sofia Minis are our sparkling white wine blend in a can. By the time midnight rolls around, there’s always the chance of one guest reaching their limit. With the can, I never have to worry about a spilled can either staining my rugs red or wine glasses breaking on the floor. Safety first!  

Our Sofia BdB is a sparkling white wine made with Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Muscat varietals.  These grapes provide a wine profile that is more fruit forward, floral, with a touch of tartness.  Sometimes, I like to trade in the crispness for a slight creamier weight. So my second recommendation would be Gloria Ferrer’s Carneros Cuvee. I really love the ripe tropical fruit and round mid-palate topped with smells of yeast & lees. My husband knows what to pick up when we run low on the bubbles!

Gilles Martin, Winemaker at Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery

Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery, located on the North Fork of Long Island, NY, specializes in the exclusive production of Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines by esteemed Winemaker Gilles Martin. Here are Gilles’ recommendations for sparkling wine to pop open this New Year’s Eve.

Gilles recommends Sparkling Pointe’s tete de cuvée, the 2007 Brut Seduction. This mature sparkler is aged inside the bottle on the lees for over 8 years making it Sparkling Pointe’s oldest wine. This wine is of a deep gold color with notes of brioche and toasty almonds and pairs seductively with local shellfish and lobster. Gilles loves this wine because 2007 was a fantastic vintage. With the nice, dry weather on the North Fork, he was able to achieve a perfect balance in the vineyards between ripened fruit and balanced acidity. Gilles believes that the North Fork terroir provides perfect conditions for producing sparkling wine because the maritime climate allows for a perfect balance of fruit and acidity.

Another sparkling wine that Gilles likes to enjoy when not indulging in his own creations is from the region where he grew up and honed his skills as a winemaker: Champagne, France. This past May, Gilles visited the houses of Champagne and was very impressed by the 2006 Amour de Deutz.  He enjoyed a glass with Jean Marc LaLlier, a descendant of the founder of Deutz, and the Vintners of Sparkling Pointe, Tom & Cynthia Rosicki, and will forever cherish this memory and the Champagne that added to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Penny Gadd-Coster, Winemaker for Rack & Riddle

Wines perfect for New Year’s Eve and beyond!

Rack & Riddle Blanc de Blanc –  One of the first Blanc de Blancs we made from two incredible vineyards. The flavors in the base wine were so beautiful we decided to set some of the wine aside from our Brut blend to make this wine and it has become a favorite of the team. This is a crisp clean sparkling wine with aromas of apple, peach and tropical notes. On the palate the wine shows lively acidity and smooth fine mouse. The extended aging with this wine brings a finish that is long and luscious with tropical notes. This north coast blanc de blanc allows us to create sparkling wines that truly reflect the best North Coast Chardonnay has to offer and will not break the budget. This wine will be a hit with all of your family and bring a sparkle to your New year gatherings.

Breathless Rose –  Making Rose is special and one of the most fun wines to make and to share. It is always a great privilege to be able to work with great fruit. This wine is a blend of Carneros Pinot Noir and North Coast Chardonnay with a dash of Pinot Meunier. The brut Rose has a creamy mousse and round mouth, with flavors of strawberry, cream and spice. The finish is crisp with bright fresh fruit. Just the color will make your New Year’s celebration extra special.

My recommendation for another wine would be the Inman Family OGV Pinot Noir. Kathleen Inman lets the grapes take command allowing natural fermentation and hands off winemaking, meaning no use of tannins or enzymes for color or flavor enhancement. The wine shows the love and respect she has for the land and the grapes that grow on it. Beautiful cherry fruit flavor with a touch of earth along with nice oak balance- the perfect food wine but also a great wine to bring in the New year with friends and family.

Paul Ahvenainen, Director of Winemaking F. Korbel & Bros.

Even though I drink plenty of bubbly throughout the year, the holiday season is special. For me, it just wouldn’t be the holiday’s without a few glasses of Korbel Natural. The bright acidity, dry finish and laser-like focus on Russian River Valley fruit works on so many levels. The red fruit of the Pinot Noir and green apple flavors of Chardonnay when combined with the bright acidity helps support rich foods like artisanal cheeses and pate’s, while also serving as a bright counterpoint to the sweeter things we encounter this time of year. Or, best of all, just enjoy a glass by itself as a refreshing aperitif.

Another of my long time favorites is the Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley. Roederer Estate makes several other cuvees, some with more age and complexity. However, I personally keep coming back to the non-vintage Brut because it too is so focused on the fruit. In this case, it’s the Anderson Valley and a blend that is just a bit more focused on the Chardonnay part of the blend.  Arnaud Weyrich clearly understands the flavors he is working with and keeps this wine tightly focused in a good direction.

McPrice Myers, Co-Winemaker of Myers-Deovlet

The 2013 Myers-Deovlet Santa Barbara County Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut, would be a great choice for the Holidays. This is our inaugural release. I’ve partnered with Ryan Deovlet, of Deovlet Wines, to produce a sparkling wine that represents our passion for great grower champagne.  100% Chardonnay coming from four revered Santa Barbara County sites, that showcases the citrus fruit and floral qualities of the vintage. It performs well as and aperitif and has plenty of richness to handle most holiday fare.

I also recommend Marie Courtin 2012 Extra Brut Efflorescence. 100% Pinot Noir made in a Blanc de Noir style with no dosage at bottling,  You will know this is the real deal as soon as you put your nose in the glass. It has striking  aromatics of red fruit, chalk, bread dough and mint.  The palate has incredible balance and the vibrant finish continues to grow with every sip.  If you want to geek out or just have a great experience don’t miss out on grabbing one of these beauties.

By Kim Badenfort

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  1. This would have been a lot more interesting if you had polled some non-sparkling winemakers so they wouldn’t recommend their own – nobody learned anything from that.



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