Sparkling Wine for the New Year, Part I

This is the time of year when even non-wine-lovers pop the cork from bottles of bubbly and indulge in a glass or two of, more often than not, Champagne. I, too, will be doing so tomorrow night to ring in 2014, but not solely with Champagne. The two below are among the best non-French sparklers on the market today, and they share two very important things in common: They’re utterly delicious, and they’re guaranteed to make you want to open a second bottle.

And probably a third.

Happy New Year, indeed.

Theo Minges Riesling Brut Sekt 2008
Pfalz, Germany
Vivacious, tiny bubbles lift aromas of chalk, slate, hard apple, dulce de leche, subtle flowers, and mineral: This wine is self-confident and lovely; I keep going back for more and more sniffs. On the palate, smoky mineral, apple skin, more well-cooked dulce de leche, wonderful acidity, a bit of not-too-sweet honey, a whiff of maturing mushroom, and a touch of autolytic yeast character dance with elegance and verve. Absolutely delicious. Drink now - 2028+.


Sea Smoke “Sea Spray” 2011 Blanc de Noirs
Sta. Rita Hills, California
Salmon - copper color, like a sunset, with laser-point bubbles. There are beguiling aromas of red fruits--raspberries, cranberries, fraises de bois--that are joined by hints of watermelon and a distinct minerality of the smokier variety, like a sidewalk on a hot summer day, or like slate on an exposed mountainside. Excellent complexity. With air, a hint of creaminess softens this out for an even more appealing aromatic balance. On the palate, those red fruits come through with abundance, especially the cranberry and raspberry, and are joined by a hint of cherry, spring flowers, mushrooms, and ginger. Still young, but excellent already. Very good concentration, and, as wonderful as it is, this has huge potential to continue evolving in the bottle. Drink now - 2030.