If you've ever stopped by the store - why, of course you have, it's the place to be - then you've likely heard me express my love for all things sparkling wine. From Champagne to, I love it all.
Part of that love is due to the fact that there are few things on this planet that brighten up a room like a popped bottle of bubbles. Part of it, too, is that there are few types of wine that I feel have been more cornered into a niche section of the market, unfairly, than sparkling wine.
For centuries, Champagne and wines like it have been principally enjoyed on special occasions, New Year's Eve to birthdays to weddings and anniversaries. Like I said, that distinctive "pop" is what gives this genre part of its pizazz. While I'm not going to tell anyone to stop enjoying their spumante during such events, the reality is that sparkling wine deserves so much more than simply being reserved for them.
Take grower Champagne as an example - "grower Champagne" being defined as a wine that is made by the growers of the grapes themselves, from their own vineyards that they themselves tend and nurture along during the growing season, as opposed to House Champagne, like Möet Chandon or Veuve Cliquot, where the grapes for the wines are sourced externally and blending together for a house style.
Grower Champagne aims to create a cuvée (blend) that reflects the vineyards themselves, providing an expression of terroir that can show off the soil, the region, and ultimately, the grapes themselves. These wines have distinct characteristics like complex minerality or impressive structure that pair wonderfully with your every night cheese plate, selections of cured meats, or even an entrée course. Personally, I make it a point to enjoy these wines with my Sunday brunch (bacon, Benedict, and more bacon) whenever possible.
With estimations putting grower Champagne around only 5% of all Champagne imports to the U.S., you may be concerned about the availability to of these beautiful wines at prices accessible to the average consumer. Take Pierre Brigandat and Jean Velut as examples that are priced competitively against the big name brands and offer more than those big boys could ever dream of.
If you're the kind of consumer that likes to stay on a tighter wine budget, which we all are at one point or another, don't live in fear. There are plenty of sparkling wines from around the world produced in the grower method that offer up lively individuality at a bargain.
One can enjoy (and surely will enjoy) grower Cava and Domaine produced Vouvray for under $20, not to mention 100% Pinot Noir from New York. The choices are endless.
So next time you wander into Grain & Vine, don't be afraid to ask for grower sparkling wine for whatever the occasion, even if it's just a relaxing Wednesday evening in front of the television. It's never a bad time for bubbles.