Commenting on last week’s column, “These Spectator Top 100s at a wine shop near you,” a reader calling himself Florida David noted the California sparkler we recommended and asked, “Any values in rosés? Either domestic or from Champagne?”
Well, genuine Champagne rarely falls into the budget wine category, and there weren’t any affordable rosés, bubbly or not, in the Wine Spectator Top 100. But we agree with Florida David when he wrote, “I maintain there’s nothing like a bit of the bubbly with that salmon pink color and a touch of yeast in the nose.”
Fortunately, one of our favorite wine writers, Jeff Siegel, aka The Wine Curmugeon, recommends a bubbly rosé from one of our favorite French producers, which also happens to be on sale locally. Brut Rosé Cremant d’Alsace from Lucien Albrecht may or may not have the yeast in the nose Florida Dave is looking for (and by that he means an aroma in the wine, not a sinus infection), but it does offer refreshing strawberry fruit, good balance and a bit of the creaminess you’d expect from Champagne.
The Wine Curmudgeon had it with a fancy restaurant brunch last year ($40 on the wine list, about $18 retail) and found it “a terrific match, with great bubbles and mouthwatering strawberry fruit. The non-wine drinker in the group wanted to rush out and buy a bottle.”
Regularly $19 a bottle, NV Lucien Albrecht – Brut Rosé Cremant d’Alsace is on sale at Calvert Woodley for $16.99 a bottle ($16.14 by the case). We’ve enjoyed and recommended the pinot blanc from Lucien Albrecht and either the rosé or the regular NV Lucien Albrecht – Brut Cremant d’Alsace, also on sale at CW, would be a fine bubbly for toasting the holiday weekend or the upcoming New Year.
Another of The Wine Curmudgeon’s favorites, and ours, is the perennial value leader in sparklers from Spain, Cava Cristalino NV. It’s widely available in both “Brut,” which means dry, and “Extra Dry,” which means slightly sweeter (go figure!) for less than $10 a bottle and as little as $5.99 at Total Wine stores in Virginia and $6.99 at Total’s sister stores in Maryland, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laural and Beltway Fine Wine in Towson. It’s also on sale at CW for $6.99 a bottle.
And there’s also a rosé Cristalino that some say has that note of yeast Florida David is looking for and Wine Spectator this month names a Best Value at $10, calling it, “A juicy rosé cava, loaded with ripe cherry, blackberry and currant fruit, all framed by lively acidity.”
Cristalino Rose Brut is available for $8.99 a bottle at Cairo Wine & Liquor, and for $13.29 at UpCounty Fine Wine & Beer in Clarksburg, MD.
[NOTE: We’d typically provide a slideshow that give pricing at local wine shops for the various Cristalino sparklers, but a lawsuit by French Champagne house, Louis Roederer, maker of the outrageously fashionable and overpriced ‘Cristal’ has forced Cristalino to radically make over its label, into the heinously ugly black and white monstrosity, complete with a ridiculous disclaimer, you see here. Read The Wine Curmudgeon’s post on the matter for more background.]
And if you’re looking for something a bit more Champagne-like but for $10 a bottle, The Wine Curmudgeon recommends Fleuraison Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, which he bought last year for $13 but is the best selling sparkler at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, on sale for only $9.99 a bottle (regularly $11.99). Made with Spanish grapes but sold by a French producer, according to The Curmudgeon, “It has lots of apple fruit, decent bubbles, and not as much creaminess as traditional Champagne. In this, it’s midway between cava and Champagne.”
Sounds like the perfect compromise to us.
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