Bargain bubbly – champagne and otherwise

champagneaction [Before launching into this post, be sure to get a laugh with this spectacular, poppin’ Champagne video from Japan, posted here earlier this year!]

“We’re selling a lot of Prosecco,” a leading Manhattan retailer told me recently as he has observed consumers trading down from Champagne this fall. Not only are people trading down within grape bubbly, Starwood hotels forecast that beer would be the bubbly of choice for the holidays this year. Say it ain’t so! Here are a few grape bubblies worth seeking out.

In my quest to provide bubbly at every one of my events, I have, indeed, had to trade down from Champagne several times. I’ve had the Col Vetoraz (find this prosecco) and the Bisson (find this prosecco), two slightly off-dry versions of the simple and fun Prosecco under $15. (The Bisson could fake people out before opening since it doesn’t have a large cork akin to most bubbly.)

At the most recent meeting of a local wine tasting group I belong to, the theme was bubbly and we poured the sparklers not from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, the traditional grapes of Champagne, in one flight, blind. The Cremant d’Alsace from Lucien Albrecht (about $18; find this cremant) won by a mile with its good acidity and fine bead.

In the domestic sparkler category, I approached the Gruet with trepidation after a previous experience that fell quite, um, flat. But the rose ($15; (find this sparkler) got a thumbs up.

In the Champagne flight, more serious bubbles in the glass and in price, I was surprised that the Taittinger brut La Francaise (find this champagne) came out on top. Although it’s an excellent nonvintage wine, it’s a lighter style that I thought would be trumped by the the richer and fuller and delicious Bollinger Cuvee Speciale (find this champagne), which came in second. Gosset (find this champagne), another fine champagne, came in third.

Let us know what you plan to pop tonight! And whatever it is, may you have a happy new year!

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6 Responses to “Bargain bubbly – champagne and otherwise”


  1. Cremant de Bordeaux- Lisennes for $16-18. Real VFM.


  2. I can’t decide! I’m thinking some L. Aubry Brut NV that I got for $11 (usually 4x that), or Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, or the Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Brut NV. Hmm. I could drink all three.


  3. @gary — don’t know that one

    @marin – wow, Aubry for $11? What was it a 187ml? ;-) Great call with the Diebolt-Vallois–love that wine. Sadly, I’m all out of it.


  4. I must say that I had been thinking the other day about how sick I was of reading articles about “bargain bubbles”, but you did the subject justice by introducing some novel ideas, and backing it up with feedback from your tasting, so I will forgive you. Actually my distaste runs to articles on bargain everything, since I am a student and try to do a bit of fine living on a budget regardless of the economy.
    But since you piqued my interest I’ll weigh in, we drank enough Cava over Christmas to float a small armada, so I’m about sick of that too, though in truth it served admirably. We also drank a good deal of Prosecco. I really wanted to go with the goods for tonight, and I eyed a Pierre Peters NV Grand Cru, Mesnil sur Oger, and also a ’96 LeNoble BdB, but in the end couldn’t pull on either. We are going for a sushi bonanza, so the funds were dedicated elsewhere, and my market has a serious lack of grower champagne in the reasonable price range. Even big house bubbles are way over the line here. SO, looks like I’ll be falling on the Argyle Brut, acquired at reasonable price, which is actually very nice, even if it does lack a bit of the complexity of good champagne. I suspect it will serve us very well when we are done with our sake and Sapporos.


  5. We celebrated midnight with a bottle of Elizabeth Jane from Swan Valley, Australia winery Jane Brooks.

    For the afternoon of the first we found a bottle of Ayala brut de majeur for only AU$50! It cost more when we bought a bottle at the champagne house in April!

    Gotta love Ayala.


  6. That’s my first time seeing that video. Unreal. You have to be pretty accurate with a bottle top; I wonder how many times he got it wrong before it was impressive to watch?


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