Tis the season for all things bubbly, so we reached out to some of our favorite New Jersey based somms and wine professionals for suggestions on what we should be popping open this week.
Proprietor Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino, Montclair, NJ's top wine, craft beer & spirits shop is toasting the 10th anniversary of her shop with these selections:
Value: Rolet Cremant de Jura 2010 $19.99
A wonderful alternative to Champagne, this Cremant de Jura offers similar complexity and verve at half the price. Stony minerals, country flowers, citrus and orchard fruits are a few of the aromas and flavors to be found.
Splurge: Bereche Champagne $45
Easily the finest value of true Champagne that they've found this year, the Bereche Brut Reserve is rich and toasty with complex aromas and flavors of minerals, brioche, apples and citrus zest. Perfect for a toast!
French-born Thierry Carrier is GM and beverage director at Avenue, on the Long Branch/Pier Village boardwalk. Here are his picks for a special night:
Value: Mousseux de Savoie, Varichon & Clerc 'Privilege de Blanc' $9/glass
From Savoie, France and made from a mixture of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes in the méthode traditionnelle. Crisp, dry and slightly fruity. Light in body, it is perfect to drink on its own, as an aperitif or paired with a platter of cheese and crackers.
Splurge: Tattinger Comtes de Champagne, Rosé 2004 from Reims, France $365/bottle
A great and complex Rosé Champagne with lovely color, delicate bubbles and an elegant, well-balanced finish. Spectacular for New Year's Eve!
Gary Fisch welcomed his fourth Gary's Wine & Marketplace in 2015 with a champagne toast. The Hillsborough location joins stores in Bernardsville, Madison & Wayne, NJ.
Value: JCB No. 21 Brut Crémant de Bourgogne $17.99
Sparkling: Crafted in the same method used to create Champagne, this Crémant (the term used for French sparkling wines produced outside of Champagne), is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Cote d'Or in Burgundy. Lovely golden tones and a refreshing citrus nose with notes of almond and white flowers. It's a great pairing with cheese and charcuterie platters.
Value: Devaux Grande Reserve Brut $29.99
Non-Vintage Champagne: One of their best sellers. A blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay sourced from several cru vineyards from the Côte des Bar, Côte des Blancs and Vitry. This delicate and complex Champagne offers floral aromas with hints of white peach and apricot, along with almond and brioche. A fine and intense palate.
Splurge: 1999 Billecart Salmon Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut $89.99
Vintage Champagne: Created as a tribute to the House's founder, Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut is a blend of grands crus from the classified Côte des Blancs vineyards (Chardonnay) and the Montagne de Reims (Pinot Noir). This exceptional cuvée is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, and is 1/3 barrel fermented. A lovely sparkling white gold color highlighted with fine-cut bubbles. Its bright acidity and freshness are true to Billecart Salmon's house style. Elegant pastry notes and a lasting ripe fruit finish.
Sommelier Kristen Wright expertly guides guests through the wine list at The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, NJ. She suggests drinking:
Value: Champagne Aubry 1er Cru Brut NV $60
Vinification is in stainless steel tank and malolactic fermentation is encouraged to balance the high levels of acidity. This is an intense yet graceful Champagne with floral aromatics, making it a great food wine.
Splurge: Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois NV $160
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Fermentation and aging take place in neutral oak barrels which contribute a striking texture to the wine. This Champagne has remarkable finesse with notes of hazelnuts and grilled brioche.