Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Really fine sparkling wine is worth the splurge. These are not daily wines, but they are fitting for your most festive celebrations, including New Year’s Eve, weddings, birthdays and promotions. This list includes a top-notch champagne as well as an outstanding bubbly from Oregon and a delicious novelty from northern Italy.
P.S. Don’t forget half bottles for when moderation is in order, even in celebration.
Champagne, France, $60
From cult importer Terry Theise, who helped ignite the movement for “grower” champagnes by featuring producers who use only their own fruit, the Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne is impressively complex, combining a minerally texture and a fine bead of bubbles with an intriguing finish that dances between notes of roast citrus and baked sour apple. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.
Imported by Skurnik, distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines; on the list at the Dabney; Fiola Mare; Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab; Momofuku CCDC; Officina; St. Anselm; Zaytinya. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; on the list at Charleston in Baltimore, Seasons 52 in North Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in Reston; on the list at the Inn at Little Washington, Seasons 52 in Tysons.
This is a substantial champagne, combining power and finesse. It is toasty with notes of brioche and yeast, ripe apples and apricots. It is substantial enough to match with a variety of dishes, so keep this one for dinner. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Country Vintner. Available in the District at Decanter, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines; on the list at Primrose. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean, Reston), Crystal City Wine Shop, Oby Lee Winery and Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Grape + Bean (Old Town) in Alexandria, Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Brx American Bistro in Great Falls, Girasole in The Plains, Sunday in Saigon in Alexandria.
Willamette Valley, Ore., $45
Argyle set a high standard for Oregon sparkling wine, and it remains one of the best U.S. bubbly producers. This is a single-vineyard blanc de blancs, made from chardonnay grown in the Eola-Amity Hills area of Willamette Valley, where the Van Duzer winds whip in from the coast to cool the vines and preserve acidity in the grapes. This is gorgeous, more fruity in a New World way than minerally like champagne, and it demonstrates how the same care and techniques of champagne can accomplish wonders in the United States. It’s also an example of what Oregon can do with chardonnay. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits (Union Market), D’Vines, Magruder’s, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill; on the list at Blue Duck Tavern, City Winery, Corduroy, Fainting Goat. Available in Maryland at Park Avenue Pharmacy in Baltimore, the Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac); on the list at Milton Inn in Sparks, Pizzeria da Marco in Bethesda.
Champagne, $36 for 375 milliliters, $63 for 750 ml
This is a favorite champers of wine lovers, and not just because it’s fun to say. (Billy-car sah-MOn, as in “moan,” but swallow the n, hinting it without pronouncing it.) It’s downright delicious, with roasted lemon and apricot flavors and an echo of toasted hazelnuts on the long finish. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite: Half-bottles available in the District at Bacchus Wine Cellar, Modern Liquors; on the list at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Hazel, Le Diplomate, Matisse. Available in Maryland at Italian Market and Wine Cellars of Annapolis; on the list at Flamant in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Grape + Bean (Old Town) in Alexandria, Screwtop in Arlington, Total Wine & More in McLean; on the list at Barcelona in Reston.
Piemonte, Italy, $33
Here’s a novelty sparkler that surprises and delights. It hails from Piemonte in northwestern Italy, known for barolo and barbaresco, but not for sparkling wines. It is a 50-50 blend of nebbiolo, the region’s chief red grape variety, and arneis, which makes delicate, floral white wines. The result is a fascinating light-bodied bubbly with flavors of raspberry and red currant that seem to want to linger for an after-dinner conversation. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported by de Grazia, distributed by Bacchus: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cork Wine Bar and Market, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s; on the list at Karma Modern Indian. Available in Maryland at Piazza Italian Market and Wishing Well Liquors in Easton.
Bubbles and rosé are relaxed elegance in a glass. This beauty, a bargain for champagne, is delicately floral and refreshing. It’s delightful for a celebratory toast or for lighter seafood dishes. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton Selections: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Wide World of Wines. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork 57 in Bethesda, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick. Available in Virginia at the Wine Outlet in Great Falls.
Champagne, $26 for 375ml, $42 for 750ml
The Charles Orban Carte Noire is good, solid, reliable champagne at an affordable price. It offers a nice, toasty flavor on the finish. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite: Half-bottles available in the District at Pearson’s; on the list at Ris. Available in Maryland at Foundry Row Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills, Mt. Washington Wine Co. and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore; on the list at Flamant in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Grape + Bean (Old Town) in Alexandria; on the list at the Ashby Inn in Paris.
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.