***disclaimer: we originally ran this story a while back. some of the job positions of the people below have since changed and have been updated accordingly, but their champagne expertise hasn’t. enjoy***
So hey, it’s NYE in a few weeks! What happened to 2014?! It flew by, that’s what. Hopefully, you have some semblance of plans in order (our NYE GUIDE IS INCOMING, we promise) and an outfit, and a date (2 out of 3 ain’t bad either) but there’s one thing missing-QUALITY BUBBLY. Actually, make that-quality bubbly YOU CAN AFFORD. So, sure there’s all sorts of online guides to affordable sparkling wine floating around, but hey, we live in DC and lets face it, we don’t trust anyone but the people in DC. So-for this occasion, we rounded up some of our favorite sommeliers/wine directors in town and asked them for their affordable (the goal was under $50, but we got a fair amount of under $20s too) sparkling wine recommendations, available at retail locations around town. Get ready to impress everyone around you at the stroke of midnight. You’re welcome!
Sebastian Zutant, Sommelier and co-owner Red Hen
- Ah, Domaine Chandon makes pretty tasty rose. Fruit driven and rich, tastes A lot more expensive than it is. 14$ at Calvert Woodley. Also there, and better, the Lucien albrecht cremant d’alsace. No one can do it better, it’s like that and this and uhhhhhh. Smells and tastes like a bright yeasty non-vintage bottle, but half of the cost of the oft terrible affordable champagne. Also at Calvert Woodley for 17$. The rose is a smoking gun as well.
Maurice Cherry, Sommelier, Fiola Mare
- For affordable Champagnes I have a great one-Nathalie Falmet Champagne Brut NV. The bottle is available at Weygandt Wines here in Cleveland Park at $34.99.
- If you’re also looking for good value from sparkling wines, there are several other options that I personally go to more frequently than Champagne itself. One such selection is Tocco Prosecco from the Veneto in Northeastern Italy. 100% Prosecco, this is bright and lively with a mild amount of swetness and great acidity, priming the palate for the next sip-and at around $15 a bottle from Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, it’s a steal (we also pour this wine by the glass at Ripple for $9/glass.)
- And for a more interesting choice, I recommend the Hubert Clavelin et Fils Cremant de Jura Brut Comte. This sparkler is also available from Weygandt Wines at $19.99/ bottle. From the appellation of Jura, just east of Burgundy, this 100% Chardonnay offers a bit of a moussier mouthfeel most champagne drinkers are accustomed to, while finding balance in its supple fruit and racy acidity.
Kat Bangs, Former Sommelier at Komi/Little Serow
- If you are interested in (actual) Champagne, I would go with the Deutz. It’s available at AM Wine Shoppe for 49.95. BONUS: I just called over there and they said if you buy 2 bottles, you can get the 3rd for half off.
- Sparkling wine wise – while I don’t have any good recommendations per se, of course, I doctor up any cheap bubbly with with a dash of St-Germain and a raspberry garnish.
- For a more original option- I would recommend some Sparkling Normandy Cider, such as the brand, Dupont.
Gene Alexeyev, Sommelier/Manager at Macon Bistro:
- Adami’s “Bosco di Gica” vineyard Prosecco (available at Calvert-Woodley for $15.99/bottle). With fruit sourced from the family’s prime site and guided by the hand of a patriarch who also chairs the board of Prosecco producers, this no-nonsense sparkler boasts a steely structure, long-lasting, tiny-bubbled effervescence, with bright citrus and lemon-candy aromas that will keep you refreshed and cheerful.
- Gatinois Champagne (on sale at Pearson’s Wine & Liquors for $39.95/bottle). One of the hidden gems of the Champagne world is Gatinois, made by a hard-working farmer (from the village of Ay) who grows and sells grapes only to the famed Bollinger house. A little of it he keeps for himself. The result of his personal efforts is a pinot-noir based sparkler that is bright and focused, with dark fruit and mineral undertones, ripe berries, citrus and flowers, and it is as vibrant as what you would get at six times the price.
Brent Kroll, Wine Director at Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Iron Gate, The Partisan, Birch & Barley…)
- Veuve Fourny, Brut Rose, Vertus 1er Cru (Est retail $35)- A grower Champagne that’s passionate about their vineyards, cultivated by their ancestors in 1856. Grapes are sourced from the Premier Cru de Vertus, a village located in the south of the famous Côte des Blancs. Veuve Fourny, Brut Rose is made from hand picked Pinot Noir and a small amount of Chardonnay. This grower is known for using little to no dosage(less sugar) making a bone dry style of Champagne. Think of this as Champagne in a sun dress, with lots of finess, to help steer clear of a potential hangover.
Rikka Johnson, Former General Manager, The Source by Wolfgang Puck , now at CUT in LA
- Drink Gosset Rose. It’s worth the splurge. One of the oldest houses in Champagne, it’s known for its orange-pink color and tastes like morning buns right out of the oven. Think a Paris morning in the springtime.
- For the affordable, I don’t think you can get better than Hillinger “Secco Brut”. First off, I love that it’s from Austria, the home of Wolfgang and secondly, it goes with all food and is incredibly festive. The perfect way to start off a meal or 2012.
James Horn, Wine & Service Director for Mike Isabella Concepts
- Barboursville Brut NV from Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia. A dry, very solid wine (approx. $12.00/bottle)
Guy Golin, Former Sommelier at the now closed J&G Steakhouse:
- Rosato Spumante, Casabiance NV from Venegazzu, Italy (approx. $48/bottle)
now, all you need is SOMEONE to feel this good about: