Best Sparkling Wine

The sparkling wine Champagne is named after the northern region of France where it’s produced. Other regions of France, as well as other countries, make sparkling wine, but only those from Champagne may be called Champagne.

Supposedly the eighteenth-century blind Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, accidentally discovered how to put the bubbles in Champagne when his wines started fermenting again in the spring after the cold winter had stopped them. Other records attribute this discovery to the British scientist Christopher Merret thirty years before Pérignon.

Pérignon is credited widely with improving the techniques of blending wines from different years as well as the three principle grapes used: the white grape Chardonnay and two red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

My reviews of these best value Sparkling wines are updated weekly. These Sparkling wines offer great taste at a good price. You'll find a definition of Sparkling at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings for Sparkling in my wine matcher. This is just a sampling of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.

Fleury & Fils  Carte Rouge Champagne Brut Non-Vintage
A.C. Champagne, France
Vintages Wine Panel: In 1989, Champagne Fleury became the first producer in the region to convert to not only organic production, but biodynamic as well. Since then, the results have been stunning as this fruity, full-bodied, toasty fizz attests. This wine contains 6 mg/L of free sulphur. My note: A robust and tasty bubbly with ripe pear notes. Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $56.95 Score: 91/100

This Champagne Brut Non-Vintage was reviewed June 7, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 74443  Check Stock
 

R. Pouillon & Fils Cuvée De Réserve Brut Champagne
A.C., Champagne, France
Robust and deep bubbly with strong toasty notes and ripe tree fruit. Terrific mousse. Persistent finish. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  FAVOURITE SPARKING WINE  Price: $48.95 Score: 90/100

This Champagne was reviewed March 20, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 160937  Check Stock
 

Domaine Chandon Étoile Brut
Napa, Sonoma Counties, California, United States
Toasty, refreshing, great value. Aromas and flavours of green apple and baked bread. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2013‐2016  Smart Buy Wine  Price: $39.95 Score: 90/100

This wine was reviewed November 9, 2013 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 205658  268 in stock
SAQ: 11424204  Check Stock
 

Roederer Estate Brut
Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California, United States
One of my favourite California sparkling wines that's consistently great year after year. The price of this zesty and refreshing sparkling wine is incredibly low, especially for the quality. Terrific toasty aromas with full-bodied weight and lift on the finish. Keep some in stock throughout the holidays. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2013‐2015  Charming Grilled Chicken Wine  Best Value Sparkling Wine  Price: $24.90 Score: 91/100

This wine was reviewed December 7, 2013 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 294181  442 in stock
SAQ: 294181  Check Stock
 

Chateau De Montgueret Cremant De Loire Rose
Loire Valley, France
Gorgeous! Raspberries on a bed of rose petals. So pretty and so affordable. Alcohol: 11.5%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $19.95 Score: 90/100

This Cremant De Loire Rose was reviewed April 22, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

 


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Sparkling

The process today still involves a first fermentation to make the still, acidic wine. Then, before bottling, a small amount of wine, sugar and yeast is added (“liqueur de triage”) to trigger a second fermentation in the bottle, where the carbon dioxide bubbles are trapped. The bottle is gradually tilted upside down (riddling), by hand or machine, and eventually the dead yeast cells gather in the neck and are disgorged so that the wine is clear. Before the final cork seal is affixed, the wine is topped up with a small amount of wine and sugar (liqueur d'expédition). The amount of sugar determines whether the bubbly will be Brut (very dry), Sec (off-dry) or Demi-Sec (medium-sweet).

Rosé bubbly is made either by blending red and white wine or by limiting the skin contact of the red grapes during maceration, when the grapes soak in their own juice before fermentation.

Blanc de blancs Champagne is made only from Chardonnay while blanc de noirs is only from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The grapes for vintage Champagne that show a year on the label were harvested from one year only, while non-vintage Champagne are grapes and wines blended from many years. While Vintage Champagnes age well, non-vintage bubblies are meant to be consumed within a year or two of purchase while they still have their fruit freshness. Many producers outside of the Champagne region use this process and grapes to make their bubbly and often put méthode traditionnelle on their label.

The words Champagne and méthode champenoise may not legally be used by producers except those from Champagne itself.

Bubblies made in Burgundy, France, are called Crémants de Bourgogne while those from Alsace are Crémant d'Alsace. Spain makes Cavas (“cave”), Italy makes either Prosecco (lightly sparkling) or Spumante (fully sparkling and sweet), Germany makes Sekt or Deutscher and those from New World regions, such as Canada, California, Australia and elsewhere, are simply called sparkling wine.

Some bubblies outside of Champagne are made from a cheaper and quicker carbonation process, during which bubbles are injected into the tanks of fermenting wines. This method doesn’t create wines with the same refinement and nuance as the Champagne method. The bubbles tend to go flat quickly.

Drink bubbly from a flute glass that preserves its bubbles and concentrates its aromas. (Forget those old coupe glasses molded to the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breasts.)

Signature bubbly aromas include toast, yeast, fresh-baked bread, green apple, lemon, lime and orange zest.

Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile wines with food because of its zesty fruit aromas, mouth-watering acidity and palate-cleaning bubbles.

Pair dry styles with spring rolls, almonds, canapés, brioche bread, cheeses, poultry, sashimi, Thai coconut shrimp, pasta with cheese-based sauce, caviar, shellfish, seafood risotto, snack foods, onion rings, egg dishes, avocado salad, guacamole, pâté, pasta, charcuterie, veal, salads and vegetarian casseroles.

Sweet bubbly (doux or spumante) goes well with curries, fruit flans, cobblers, biscotti, nuts, soft cheeses, Christmas pudding, lemon soufflé, mille feuilles, pavlova and tiramisu.