Swap Champagne for Western Sparkling Wines on New Year’s Eve
With Rosés, fruity reds, and dry whites, Western winemakers have the sparkling wines to bring some variety and new flavor to your toasts this year.
With New Year’s Eve just weeks away, it’s about time to stock up on celebratory bubbles. But it might be a bit difficult to get your hands on Champagne this year. European wine producers are facing rising prices and shipping delays, meaning you may need to switch it up. Luckily, the West is home to scores of winemakers producing delicious sparkling wines.
Before we get into the wines, let us first explain the problem: The ongoing pandemic has made supply line issues and shipping delays part of the norm. The International Monetary Fund, which tracks delivery times, reports record highs since late 2020 in both the United States and Europe due to increased demand and continued supply constraints. With the particularly heightened demand during the holiday season, the IMF doesn’t see delivery times improving any time soon. And with New Year’s Eve looming, it seems the problem may affect the all-important drink to close out the year: Champagne.
Yes, we may be on the verge of a Champagne shortage, according to the Washington Post, but not only due to supply lines. The Comité Champagne, a trade body that oversees the French region, reduced the amount of Champagne that can be produced per acre due to a significant drop in demand at the beginning of the pandemic, the Washington Post reports. That change and weather effects including a cold snap, rain and mildew, and a hail storm, severely reduced production in 2020 and 2021.
While the Washington Post says the direct effects won’t fully be felt for a couple years thanks to the aging process, the effects on the wine market are already here. Champagne prices are rising, and while Spanish Cava and Italian Prosecco remain cheaper options, all three are still affected by the delays in container shipping.
So to get around all of that, you can turn to American vineyards for your New Year’s Eve bubbly. From bright rosés to crisp sparkling whites, the West’s winemakers have a great selection for you to pop open and celebrate the holidays.
Schramsberg 2012 Reserve
This full-bodied sparkling wine is made from only the best wine lots of the year and is aged for nearly a decade in Schramsberg’s hillside caves in Diamond Mountain in California. While the majority of its flavor comes from Pinot Noir grapes, it also is made with Chardonnay, and the wine’s overall flavor is described as dry and toasty yet fruity.
Caraccioli Cellars 2015 Brut Cuvee
This brut is Caraccioli’s first vintage made solely from estate fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands in California. Aged for at least four years and made using traditional French procedures modernized by their in-house winemakers, the precision of this sparkling wine is apparent in every sip.
Iron Horse 2018 Classic Vintage Brut
This vintage is the latest in a line of what Iron Horse considers its flagship bubblies. A specialized aging process gives the wine extra richness, while the vineyard’s grapes grown in California’s Green Valley give it a distinct fruit flavor that is signature to Iron Horse wines.
Hammerling Co. 2018 Sunflower Sutra
This wine is perfect for winter evenings. It’s made from grapes grown in the areas of California with cooler climates. While that can give the wine a distinct acidity, part of Hammerling’s aging process adds a savory touch. Aged for a year and a half, this wine overall has a leaner, more mineral-driven flavor.
Old World 2018 Early Harvest Abouriou Co-Ferment Sparkling Red
A sparkling red is a decent step away from traditional Champagne but hear us out: The strawberry and rhubarb flavors, as well as the apple juice included in the blend, give the wine a nice fruity quality while its acidity keeps you from drinking it too fast. A tart, dry finish elevates this sparkling red to another level.
Carboniste Gomes Vineyard 2019 Sparkling Albarino
For this wine, Carboniste turned to the Gomes Vineyard on Sacramento’s Andros Island, where the Gomes family has been farming since the 1800s. Aged for three months, this wine is light and playful, with notes of gooseberry and kumquat.
Poe 2017 van der Kamp Sparkling Pinot Meunier Rosé
The grapes for this Rosé came from the van der Kamp Vineyard, 1,400 feet above sea level on Sonoma Mountain in California. Aged for 32 months, it has notes of peach, apricot, strawberry, and crushed rose, as well as a lively acidity that is balanced out by subtle spice flavor and a smooth texture.
Underwood 2018 The Bubbles
Union Wine Company now offers its canned bubbly in a bottle. This version is designed to taste like a crisp, clear Oregon day and has notes of lemon verbena, apple, and white stone fruit. With this, you get an impressive bottle of bubbly for a fraction of the cost.