Champagne is the consummate celebratory beverage, especially during the holidays. After all, there’s no New Year’s Eve party complete without a customary toast at the stroke of midnight. However, real Champagne can get pricey, and while Cava and Prosecco are both seeing a rise in popularity, there’s a new wave of American sparkling wines that are affordable, and just as delicious as their European relatives. These are seven wines from around the U.S. under $30, great for both holidays and everyday drinking. Now that’s something to toast!
From the Yakima Valley AVA, Treveri has helped make a name for Washington bubbly since 2007. While the label produces a variety of sparkling wines, the blanc de noir, made from 100 percent pinot noir, is a standout. The wine has a subtle flush to it, with hints of strawberry and brioche on the nose. The palate is creamy but with plenty of acid, making for a fun, zippy Champagne-style sipper at a much lower cost.
A native of France, Laurent Gruet produced his first wines from Engle, New Mexico, in 1989 and continues to do so with its 30th harvest this year. The wines from Gruet are elegant méthode-champenoise-style sparkling wines at absurdly low prices. While everything coming from this winery is exemplary, the brut rosé is especially crowd-pleasing. Made entirely from pinot noir, it’s dry but bursting with fresh, ripe berry notes and crisp acidity.
While some American wineries have gone their own route on wine production, Dr. Konstantin Frank, in the Finger Lakes of New York, hugs closer to classic European styles. The first winery in the region to make méthode champenoise wines, Dr. Konstantin Frank was founded in 1962, and the sparkling wines were introduced in the 1980s. Today, it produces a number of sparkling wines, all at reasonable prices, including the Dr. Konstantin Frank sparkling brut. Made with traditional Champagne varietals, pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, it’s an elegant bubbly with good minerality, acid and hints of toast and almond.
From near Traverse City on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan comes L. Mawby vineyards, the state’s premier sparkling wine producer. The portfolio of wines here is prolific, including some with racy names (the sparkling brut rosé is named Sex), and the whole winery has an unpretentious, accessible vibe. US, the least expensive and among the driest of the sparkling wines, is a great value for the price. A pinot-noir-dominated blend with chardonnay, it’s tank-fermented rather than bottle-fermented, highlighting the grapes more than the yeast used. The result is a medium-bodied sparkler with aromas of red fruit and peach.
Sokol Blosser, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, produces an extensive line of bottles, some of which are sparkling. Evolution brut acts as an introduction to the winery’s style. Made from an assemblage, or blend of varietals, years and barrel expressions, the final product is a bright, quaffable wine with elements of crisp apple and citrus. Sokol Blosser’s other sparkling wines are also worth the occasional splurge.
Vending Machine in New Orleans is only about seven years old, and the Pet gNat reflects that, as the wine is meant to be quaffed right away. Rather than méthode champenoise, the Pet gNat is created by an older style: pétillant-naturel, where it gets its name. Made from aleatico grapes from Napa, it’s bottled before the primary fermentation is finished and left unfiltered and unfined.The result is a cloudy, fizzy vino, like a hefeweizen equivalent of wine. And while it’s totally dry, this fun, wild wine is packed with stone fruit and other tropical notes. While guests might be reticent to try a cloudy wine, they’ll soon change their minds after trying it.
The Texas wine industry is exploding, with the Lone Star State now the fifth largest producer of wine in the country. One of the pioneers of the industry is Messina Hof, celebrating 40 years of family-owned business in the Texas High Plains AVA. While the winery makes a few sweeter sparkling wines, including an off-dry rosé, the brut is the best and driest. The first sparkling wine to be made with 100 percent Texas-grown grapes, it follows the traditional méthode champenoise, though it’s made with chenin blanc and rests in the bottle for only nine months before disgorgement. This makes for a bright sparkling wine, with notes of stone fruit and less of the “bready” quality often associated with the Champagne style. It’s an easy-drinking but still complex brut.