The buzz this holiday season is about the deals you'll find on sparkling wines. Your best bet is to find a good wine shop staffed with knowledgeable people and committed to stocking unusual options. If you are unsure what kind of sparkler to buy, be able to say, "I like (Veuve Clicquot yellow label), but I don't want to spend that much money -- or I want a different style." This will give the wine keep insight into your style preference and will save you time and money.
For those who want a good deal on the ever popular prosecco, Robert Balsley recommends Conti Neri Prosecco di Prosecco, noting, "This is an absolutely delicious sparkling Italian wine for only $14." Another perennial favorite is the Mumm Cuvée Napa Brut NV (non vintage) for $17. At a higher price point, he recommends Champagne Duval-Leroy ($30). Founded in 1859 in the Côte des Blancs, Duval-Leroy is considered one of the ten greatest champagne houses. For "pink" sparklers, Balsley suggests Charles de Fère Reserve Rosé dry for $13 and the 100 percent pinot noir Leo Hillinger, a $16 Austrian pink sparkler (Secco).
Arthur's Wine Shop, in Belk SouthPark Mall, 704-366-8610. www.arthurs-wine.com
Chuck Richards suggests a few inexpensive sparklers: the consistently good tasting Spanish Cava, Cristalino NV Brut for $9 -- a hard price to beat. Another he recommends which is made in the traditional Methode Champenoise, but comes from the Loire, is Touraine, a slightly less dry than Champagne, but a deal at $18. Reid's prosecco inventory runs from $10 to $15. Typically, Richard recommends these for summer, but says they "are just as fun now". For the ultra premium high end, he suggests the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé ($75). That's what he'll be drinking.
Reid's Fine Foods, 225 E. Sixth Street, 704-377-1312. www.reids.com
Conrad Hunter had several holiday wines to recommend. He proposes the New Mexican sparkler Gruet Brut for $15 and the prosecco Carpenè Malvolti Brut Rosé for $21. For Champagne, Hunter opts for the creamy texture of Jacquesson Cuvée No 730 ($38). He notes that this house made the champagne for Napoleon and the 730 represents the number of cuvées since the house's founding in 1798). For an Austrian kick he recommends Sekt Bründlmayer Brut 2002 for $38. Some consider this to be the best sparkling wine in the German speaking world.
The Wine Shop in Foxcroft East Village, 7824 Fairview Road, 704-365-6550
Tim Wallace, owner of the Wine Vault, says he'll be drinking Bollie, AKA Bollinger, NV Brut Special Cuvée ($45) this New Year's Eve and recommends others do the same. But his best buy is the Gloria Ferrer Brut from Sonoma for $20 and the Italian prosecco Primo Franco for $24. Wallace noted, though, that if sparklers are not your thing, he has some outstanding 2003 Alsatian Trimbach Gewurztraminer and Rieslings for $20.
The Wine Vault, 9009 J M Keynes Dr. # 1, 704-548-9463