Macari Vineyards Horses, 2017, retail: $26.
Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV, retail: $50.
One gift that never gets old (well, in my book, anyway) is a bit of the bubbly. Does anything command more respect and speak to the celebratory nature of the season more than a bottle of the good stuff? Sparkling wine can assume many incarnations. Yes, actual Champagne comes from France (and I’m recommending some picks here, all of which can be purchased online at wine.com), but there other sparkling wines that are just as festive and gift-worthy. With that in mind, here are my picks for the 2020 gifting season. Buy these bottles as presents for others, or hold on to a few for your own cellar. ‘Tis the season, after all.
For the Bubbly Newbie
Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV (Retail: $50)
This pale gold wine has a fine bead and toasty notes of freshly baked bread. This is a dry Champagne, perfect for someone just finding his or her footing in the vast world of bubbly. It’s also available at an entry-level price. This is a 90-point wine, as far as Wine Enthusiast’s most recent ratings are concerned, and a pick for their esteemed “Best of the Year.”
Macari Vineyards Horses 2017 (Retail: $26)
This sparkling Cabernet Franc has been made consistently since 2013, right here on Long Island. The wine has an immense following, so stock up on this one well before the end of December. In it, you’ll find a compelling, playful sparkling wine with clean red fruits on the palate and a crisp, satisfying finish. Order it at macariwines.com.
Champagne Leflaive Brut Rosé NV (Retail: $75)
Red fruits dominate in this finely moussed rosé, which boasts crispness, structure, and ample body. This wine is delicious, refreshing, and bright, and an excellent choice for those looking for a wine that can also hold up to a meal. Open this bottle at the start of dinner and watch it evolve with the evening.
For the Wine Geek
Sparkling Pointe Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2014 (Retail: $68)
The wine lover who knows a little about style and complexity is a good recipient for this wine, which has toastier, fuller flavors — as well as rich tropical fruits on the nose and palate—than the basic Bruts. Considering the method and aging time, this wine is a steal at this price point. Buy it online atsparklingpointe.com.
Channing Daughters Bianco Petillant Naturel 2018 (Retail: $28)
This petillant naturel — or pet nat, for short — is made in the so-called Méthode Ancestrale style, where grapes are harvested, pressed in whole clusters, and settled in order to yield juice. The wine ferments in stainless steel tanks before undergoing a coarse filtering and being transferred to bottle with crown cap. A blend of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tocai Friulano, this straw-colored wine possesses a balance of ripe fruit and bright acidity. With only 388 cases produced, it’s also a relative rarity, meaning the wine collector in your life will certainly appreciate its specificity (and, hopefully, its style). Order your gifts at channingdaughters.com.
Shinn Estate Vineyards Sparkling Rosé 2016 (Retail: $38)
On the North Fork, the Frankel family produces high quality, delicious wines. For many years, the winery — once owned by the legendary Barbara Shinn — produced no sparkling. The 2016, a high toned, bold, and spicy rosé sparkler, is the first vintage of its kind. The wine is available through Shinn’s website: shinnestatevineyards.com.
For the Sophisticate
Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2008 (Retail: $285)
This is a wine for the experienced Champagne drinker. Darker in color than the white foil, the Winston Churchill cuvée boasts persistent spice, rich stone fruits, and a full and sustained texture. The price point is high for this wine, which is only produced in select vintages, but the quality justifies the cost.
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Rosé 2008 (Retail: $200)
This rare rosé is produced in the saignée method, whereby red wine is bled through contact with the skins. The result is a structured, smart wine that reflects the esteemed land from which the Pinot Noir grapes hail: Bouzy, a Grand Cru village in Champagne; and Les Riceys, a commune in Champagne known, in particular, for its superlative rosé. This is an explosive, expressive wine, with a lingering complexity that is nearly incomparable.
One fine body…