I could drink sparkling wine every night- I absolutely love it and I strongly believe that it shouldn’t be limited to holidays and special events. That being said, there is something about the holiday season that makes me want to drink sparkling wine even more.
So here it is, your holiday guide to Finger Lakes sparkling wine! Now, I’m sure there are fabulous local bubbles I’ve left off this list, so please add your favorite sparkling wines to the comments section. I’m always excited to hear of new bubblies to try and share.
Sparkling Fan Club: Brut, Blanc de Blancs, and Blanc de Noirs
Champagne is made using the méthode champenoise, where the wine undergoes a fairly labor intensive process involving multiple steps over time (Wine Folly has a great article on the steps if you’re interested). You don’t need to go to Champagne in France to get these wines- the Finger Lakes are making some pretty incredible options using these methods.
If you’re looking for something made with the classic blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, try Dr. Konstantin Frank’s 2012 Brut, which has notes of grapefruit, early grey tea, lemon, and herbs, with a great acidity and lightness.
Bellweather 2013 Blanc de Blanc, and headed outside to await the other guests. It was a classic Finger Lakes Champagne-style sparkling, with nice fruit forward notes of apple and pear, and a crusty bread note that carried onto the palate.
Are you Pinot Noir fan? Then you’ll love Hermann J. Weimer’s 2012 Blanc de Noir, with a nose of fresh, bright red berries and fruit, hints of citrus, and light notes of toast and brioche.
Pet Nat: Sparkling Wine to Convert Beer Lovers
Pétillant Naturel, shortened to Pet Nat, is a process of making sparkling wine where the wine is bottled prior to the completion of primary fermentation. This process is similar to the way that many beers are produced. These wines can be highly variable, but are often more rustic and have some funky notes to them. Perfect for your weird uncle who drinks only sour beers and saisons.
If you’re looking for something super funky, I suggest Bloomer Creek Vineyard‘s Tanzen Dame Pet Nat 2015, made from 50/50 Riesling and Cayuga, with notes of apricot, tangerine, and honeysuckle, bright lime acidity with a nice lingering funk.
Looking for a slightly more refined version? Red Tail Ridge Winery’s 2016 Pétillant Naturel, made from 100% Riesling, has notes of pear, candied ginger, honeysuckle and lemon peel, with great lingering bubbles and a cleansing acidity. You can also get their new Pet Nat Rose made from Pinot Noir!
Sparkling Riesling: For Hardcore FLX Fans
Our region become famous for it’s Riesling, with good reason- we make really, really good Riesling. So it’s not surprising that there are some great sparkling Rieslings out there.
We always have a bottle of Billboro Winery’s Mousseux at hand. 100% Riesling, this dry sparkling wine has delicious notes of lime and citrus on the nose, with nice bubbles and nectarine on the palate, and a bright acidity to finish it off.
If you’re looking for Riesling made in the Champagne style, I’d suggest Ravines Argetsinger Vineyard Sparkling Riesling. Lemon, nectarine, tangerine, and floral notes on the nose, with a bright acidity that lingers on the palate.
If you’re looking for a touch of sweet with your Riesling, you can try Atwater Vineyard’s Riesling Bubble with notes of apple, pear, apricot, and lime, with a tangerine and peach finish, or Célèbre by Dr. Konstantin Frank has notes of apple, pear and honey with a nice acidity to balance the sweetness.
Sweeter Side: Bubbles for Sweet Wine Fans
Sometimes it’s fun to have a slightly sweeter bubbly, particularly if you’re having it for your dessert, or if you just prefer your wines a little sweet.
A fun option is always Hazlitt Vineyard’s Red Cat Fizz, which is classic Red Cat wine with bubbles added. The nose has bright berry and citrus notes, and a lingering sweet, jammy mouthfeel. They also make a White Cat Fizz if you’re more into that.
Ravines Wine Cellar’s Ayre, which comes in a smaller size that is perfect for gifts, is a sweeter bubbly made from Valvin Muscat, a French-American hybrid grape. It has a nose of white peach, orange blossom, and hints of spice, with a nice clean acidity and lingering touch of sweetness. This isn’t as bubbly as the other options, but the light effervescence is still fun.
From Pink to Red: For the Rosé and Red Wine Devotee
The lineup of sparkling options is getting increasingly diverse, particularly in the category of red and pink bubbles!
Bet the Farm Winery’s 2015 Brut Gamay this delicious wine is made using the traditional French method of making Champagne, but uses Gamay Noir, a grape that is slightly more rare in our region that deserves more attention. Notes of dehydrated strawberry were paired with a smokiness that made this a fun wine to drink, and it had a clean acidity.
Red Tail Ridge has a whole lineup of pink to red sparkling wines! You can go with their 2012 Sparkling Teroldego, with black raspberry, cherry, and blueberry jam on the nose with floral notes and bright fruit on the palate, or their 2013 Sparkling Rose made from Pinot Noir that has notes of strawberry and cherry with hints of bread crust and citrus on the palate.
Tony’s Red Sparkling by Anthony Road Wine Company is a fun bubbly version of their classic Tony’s Red. This is perfect for red wine fans who want a touch of bubbles and sweetness, with it’s notes of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and hints of smoke.
Champagne Pop: Local Sparkling to Splurge On
Put down that bottle of Veuve Cliquot, Dom Perignon, or Bollinger. There are incredible high end bubbles that you can get right here that have the double bonus of being both delicious and local!
Hermann J. Weimer’s 2006 Cuvee Brut is honestly my top wine of the year- and yes, it was just released this year. With notes of apple and pear tart, marmalade, custard and brioche toast, balanced by a bright acid and creamy mouthfeel- this is a masterful wine. This is the wine I’ll be toasting with come the holiday season, and the one that has lingering in my mind the most.
If you’re looking for something special, you can also enquire with Dr. Konstantin Frank about their sparkling cellar- they have a whole range of old bubblies tucked away that they release every once in a while. At the December meeting of Women for Winesense Finger Lakes, we tried their 1999 Brut. It had divine notes of baked apple, challah bread, and marzipan, and still has a great acidity on the palate.