By Lisa Gana, Matt Goldstein & Sommelier Tom Pittakas
Just because Moet Chandon, Crystal, and Dom Perignon are the most famous champagnes on the market, doesn’t mean they’re the best. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire paycheck just to drink a good bottle of the bubbly. We’ve compiled a top 15 list of our favorite champagnes, many of which are award winning and can be purchased for under $15.
Champagnes, Sparkling Wines, Prosecco’s and Cava’s
1. Louis Bouillot Rose Sparkling Wine:
100% Pinot Noir Grapes, Burgundy France. Scored 88 points from Wine Enthusiast and costs about $15.00
2. Thorn Clarke NV Brut Reserve:
A Pinot Noir, Chardonnay Sparkling Wine Blend from South Australia. Thorn Clarke Brut Reserve scored 90 points from Cellar Tracker and is available for about $14.00.
3. Castellar Cava, Spain:
The most famous sparkling wine in Spain, Castellar Cava is a light refreshing and easy drinking style of Champagne. Made with Macabeo, Parelleda and Xarel-lo grapes, the Cava stands out from the other sparkling wines on the shelf and costs about $13.00. Castellar scored very well at the 2010 Wine Trials.
4. Domain Ste Michelle Brut:
For 2 years in a row, Domain St Michelle beat out Dom Perignon in a double blind taste test at the Wine Trials. Domain St Michelle costs about $13.00 per bottle while Dom Perignon costs about $150.00. What else is there to say?
A classic French Champagne with a Pino Noir Base and smaller parts Chardonnay with Pinot Meunier. The Piper Heidseck winery has been making wines and champagnes since 1785 and a bottle of Brut is about $25.00.
Napa Valley, California. With a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir this California Sparkling Wine scored 92 points from Wine Spectator and 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. Taittinger Brut Cuvee costs about $23.00.
Napa Valley, California. A Chardonnay based California Sparkling wine that scored 90 points from the Wine Enthusiast, Chandon can be purchased for around $20.00. Chandon is owned by the world renowned French Champagne Moet-Chandon. The Blanc de Noirs is a gorgeous salmon-pink and is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay is also a great buy.
8. Roederer Estate Brut:
Anderson Valley,CA. Owned and made by the infamous and obnoxiously expensive Cristal, the Roederer Estate Brut for the rock-bottom price. With about 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, this sparkling wine is available for about $20.00.
9. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige:
Napa Valley, CA.A crisp, dry sparkling wine that scored 90’s from the Wine Enthusiast and the Wine Spectator. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is a great sparkling wine for only $16.00.
10. Veuve Clicquot Brut:
Champagne France. This legendary Champagne scores above 90’s across the board from all of the major wine and champagne ratings and it costs much less than Moet Chandon. Veuve Clicquot Brut can be purchased for about $34.00.
California. With 60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier, this California Brut is bottle fermented in the traditional Champagne style. Piper Sonoma Brut is available for about $12.00.
12. Moet Chandon Imperial:
Champagne, France. Moet Chandon is a classic French Champagne. Perhaps a little pricey but Moet has won awards across the board for all of its Champagnes on the shelf. The Moet Imperial is available for about $40.00.
13. Castello Del Poggio Muscat Blanc Sparkling Wine:
Italy. Sweet and well balanced with refined fruitiness, the Castello Del Poggio is actually a staple of the Olive Garden. Seriously, we just mentioned the Olive Garden. Either way, this is a solid sparkling wine for about $15.00.
On this Christmas, we at Whiskey Goldmine would like to give a shout out to a great man. Man or sometimes son of God (semantics), Jesus Christ was known to walk on water, cure lepers and give sight to blind children. Perhaps the biggest miracle of all, Jesus actually turned water into wine. That is pretty amazing! We’re not surprised that Jesus has so many followers and had so many books written about him. One of those books was particularly influential and turning water into wine is just an awesome way to rock out at a party. 2000 years ago there weren’t many liquor stores, therefore wine; vodka and whiskey were a little hard to come by. Of course turning water into wine was a miracle.
Jesus the Drinker
Not only did Jesus turn water into wine, Jesus actually drank the wine too. Being a rabbi, Jesus celebrated the Hebrew Sabbath every Friday night after sundown. On the Sabbath, the dinner and religious ceremony traditionally requires a few glasses of wine with dinner while reciting prayer. Jesus was pretty awesome huh?
We at whiskey goldmine would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year. Even if you’re not that religious, any excuse to be with family and friends or just getting to share some time with loved ones is a good thing.
After being bombarded with thousands of presents by his new Catholic in laws, this Jewish kid has learned to love him some Christmas. Dinner on Christmas eve, drinks, the casino, lots of presents, another dinner and more drinks afterwards followed by a huge party. What’s not to love about Christmas! Here’s to Jesus showing me some love on the craps table tonight.
We’ve compiled a list of great white wines under $20 that was created by the people at Swirl, a leading wine appraiser and interactive smart phone applications. Available on the Droid, Swirl is a walking bible of great wine information with where to buy, what to buy, extensive explanations on grape varieties and food pairings with many of the recommended wines. Check out these great white wines for a great price.
Columbia Reisling, Washington State
Notes: full flavored, rich, refreshing and crisp acidity. Pairs with spicy fare, seafood, fruit dishes, rich cheeses.
Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, CA.
Pairs with artichoke dip, sushi, salads.
Columbia Crest Semillon, Oregon.
Notes: rich, heavy, oak, creamy.
Castello del Poggio Muscat Blanc Sparkling Wine, 2007 Italy.
Notes: sweet, well balanced, refined fruitiness. A staple of the Olive Garden. Seriously, we mentioned the Olive Garden.
Tormaresca Chadonnay, 2006 Puglia Italy.
Notes: citrus & exotic fruits, dry finish. Pairs with fish and chicken.
Concha Y Toro, Chile.
Notes: fruit, oak, caramel, spices, toasty oak, flavorful, pear and citrus. Pairs with fish and chicken.
Zaca Mesa Viognier, 2006 Central Coast, CA.
Notes: fruits, peach, citrus, apple, floral, excellent nose, light for a viognier. Pairs with sushi and Vietnamese cuisine.
Feudi di San Gregori, 2006 Italy.
Notes: fruit, crisp, citrus, minerals, almonds, complexity, very drinkable.
Swanson Pinot Grigio, 2008 Napa, CA.
Notes: oak, minerals, pinot, flowers, crisp, tropical. Pairs with seafood, light pasta dishes, cheese and crackers.
Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Sonoma CA.
Notes: tropical fruit, spices, citrus, pineapple. Pairs with sushi and salads.
For all Droid owners out there, the free Swirl App lists great wines at great values. From reds to whites of all varieties, the Swirl App lists all of the wine regions, types of wine, flavors and food pairings. The Swirl app also lets the subscribers to review the wines and locate the closest wine store near you.
Crusher Growers Selection
Don Sabatini & Sons, Petite Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon, Clarksburg, CA
Angove McLaren Vale Shiraz
Angove Family Winemakers, Mclaren Vale, Australia. Food Pairings: Steak & Mushrooms, Wild Game and Stew
Burletto G.B. Comm. Barbera d’Alba
D’Arenberg d’Arrys Original Shiraz
50% Syrah, 50% Grenache, McLaren Vale Australia
Bodegas Primicia Rioja, Spain
Food Pairings: Paella, Spicey and BBQ dishes, Pancetta, Mild Blue Cheeses.
The most most famous sparkling wine in Spain, Castellar Cava is a light refreshing and easy drinking style of Champagne. Made with Macabeo, Parelleda and Xarel-lo grapes, the Cava stands out from the other sparkling wines on the shelf and costs about $13. Why pay $45 for Moet Chandon?
The Four Graces Pinot Noir is a complex dark Pinot Noir with hints of blackberry and forest. It has a great deep purple and nice effervescence. The wine is aged for more than 10 months in French Oak barrels, and according to their web site, “the 2008 vintage is a classic vintage with a good balance between fruit and acidity.” At around $15.00 it’s a must buy!
A Vineyard Review Featuring Domain Drouhin & Archery Summit
by Paul Reiter
Domain Drouhin: With family roots in Beaune, the important Bourgnone (Burgundy) city, and a winemaker who splits time between Beaune and the Willamette Valley, just south of Portland, Oregon, Domain Drouhin is turning the US pinot noir reputation from average to amazing. Portland’s weather is an exact replicate of the Burgundy region of France, where it basically rains year round except for the summer. Summers are hot, without much humidity, with gorgeous rolling hills, and great soil from former volcanic ash. This leads to amazing berries and grapes, perfect for pinot noir and pinot gris.
If you see a bottle of the Domain Drouhin Laurene pinot noir at a wine shop near you – get it. It just might be the best pinot noir in America right now.
Archery Summit is also producing some truly exquisite pinot noirs now as well. These wineries are right around the corner from each other and share such similar terroir; it’s incredible how different the bottles can taste. But aside from the grapes there is truly so many other factors that go into wine making; the type of barrels, aging, sugar content, winemaker’s style, etc.
Grab yourself some Oregon pinot noir and let us know what you think. Other local wineries we recommend are Panther Creek, Adelsheim, Maresh and Natalies Estate.
Heavy Red: Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, $15
Sweet: Clean Slate Reisling, Germany, $11
The wines listed above have been selected as the 2010 Wine Trial champions. All 7 wines were put through rigorous blind taste testing that included sommelier’s, chefs, wine stewards, and cellar masters. The wines competed against “premium” wines sometimes 5-10 times their price. All of the champion wines are under $16! The book, 2010 Wine Trials, by Robin Goldstein & Alexis Herschkowitsch breaks down hundreds of wines and proves that there is no need to spend more than a few dollars to get a great wine experience.
In a blind taste test that featured wine experts, sommelier’s, decorated chefs, winemakers, food critics and many other wine connoisseur’s, a Washington State sparkling wine, Domaine Ste Michelle Brut, has defeated champagnes retailing for more than 10 times its own price. For the 2nd year in a row, a $12 bottle of Domaine Ste Michelle Brut has been declared the winner of the Wine Trials and defeated Dom Perignon in the process. Perhaps the most famous Champagne in the history of wine, more for its price than anything else considering that virtually no one can afford it, Dom Perignon retails for about $140. Domaine Ste Michelle Brut sparkling wine retails for about $12 but has even been seen online for as little as $8.99. From the book, The Wine Trials 2010, authors Rubin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch give detailed account of how 150 wines $15 and under beat out wines over $50 in “rigorous brown bag blind tastings.” Domaine Ste Michelle Brut is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and has a “fresh and light” style. Domaine Ste Michelle Extra Dry was also a finalist.