7 Top Sparkling Wines of 2014
For everyone who has NOT bought their bubbles for New Year's yet, take note: It is not too late! And to help out in that endeavor, here are my favorite Champagnes and sparkling wines from the last year of tasting. Any of them would make an excellent choice when it comes to popping a cork on New Year's Eve.
2012 Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Cuvee Thomas Jefferson ($17)
One of my top sparkling wine values of the year, this floral cuvee from Languedoc has remarkable depth of flavor for an under-$20 bottle. (Apparently, Thomas Jefferson was big fan of cremant de Limoux, hence the name.)
NV Mionetto "Luxury Collection" Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore ($19)
Crisp tree-fruit flavors and surprisingly fine bubbles for Prosecco make this luxury (but still very affordable) bottling from Mionetto a standout in the crowded Prosecco category.
2012 Raventos I Blanc De Nit ($22)
Raventos I Blanc left the Cava appellation a couple of years back to form a new "Conca del Riu de Anoia" D.O. for complicated reasons. It's a fascinating story, but the short, New Year's distillation is that (a) all of their sparkling wines are very good, and (b) this strawberry-peppery rosé is a fantastic value given its quality, too.
2008 Recaredo Brut Nature Cava ($33)
Impressively focused, great intensity of flavor, suggestions of fresh peach, citrus and ginger—this Spanish sparkler is additional proof that the best small producers in the Cava region are making some truly world-class wines.
2008 Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Blanc de Blanc Non Dosé ($70)
Super-crisp, focused and thrilling, this grower Champagne comes from estate vineyards farmed biodynamically by Pierre and Sophie Larmandier. One hundred percent Chardonnay, bottled with no dosage, it offers remarkable purity and grace.
2000 Charles Heidsieck Brut ($90)
Fourteen years of age has given this vintage Champagne a rich, golden taste—golden as in apples and honeycomb and grilled chestnuts (well, once you take the shell off). A blend of 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40 percent Chardonnay, it's drinking perfectly right now; it's also the current release from Heidsieck, so it should be findable, too.
2004 Dom Ruinart ($135)
Of all the Champagnes I tasted this year, the '04 Dom Ruinart is the one I keep going back to in memory when I think of what most impressed me. Chef du Cave Frederic Paniotis said when I spoke to him, "It was a plentiful vintage, and I think we underestimated its potential. The wine was very shy until about two years ago, then it became really interesting, and now it's picked up in a spectacular way." Steely and mineral at first, it opens to citrus blossom and peach notes, with a long, savory, slight honeyed finish. A great Champagne.