Champagne and Cava Recommendations To Make Your Holidays Sparkle!



Across the nation wine distributors are sharing their best and bubbliest with restaurateurs and fine food and beverage retailers in preparation for the winter holidays and New Year’s Eve.  Today I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Roanoke Valley Wine Company’s (Salem, Virginia: champagne and cava tasting. I am looking forward to purchasing these bubbly sparklies  at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke, Virginia (


Clásicos del Mediterraneo, Los Monteros Cava Brut (NV) was a favorite cava with the tasters today.  Made according to the traditional method resulting in tiny consistent bubbles in the glass. Lemony notes. 100% Macabeo grapes. Delicious and affordable at $20 or less a bottle.

I found this pairing suggestion from Red’s Table four course tasting menu (Restaurant in Reston, Virignia: and it sounded perfectly delicious. “Pearls before Swine” White Stone oysters on the half shell tapioca pearl mignonette, shaved prosciutto served with Clásicos del Mediterraneo, Los Monteros Cava.  The lemony notes of the cava would be perfect with the oysters and the saltiness of the prosciutto would give the pairing a perfect finish. Yum!

roseRose kind of day

Another Cava favorite was the Prelada Brut Rosé Cava (NV) from the Catalonia region in Spain. Garnatxa (74%), Pinot Noir (18%), Trepat (8%) made according to the traditional method. Pretty pale cherry red color.  Bubbles dissipate quickly.  Light with a quick finish. Another affordable cava at $20 or less.

I would serve the Prelada Brut Rosé Cava as a “toasting bubbly” during the holidays to say cheers to my guests. The Clásicos del Mediterraneo, Los Monteros Cava Brut would be my choice as a sipping bubbly or to pair with food.

LOVED every champagne they served to us during the tasting.  All of the champagnes we tasted were “Grower Champagnes” meaning that the champagne house grows all of their own grapes and does not purchase anyone else’s fruit.  They grow their own grapes and make the champagne ~ truly artisan wines . One of my favorites is currently available at Tinnell’s Finer Foods:


Champagne Voirin-Jumel, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs (NV)

I found this champagne to be delightful.  100% Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes.   Voirin-Jumel is a tiny producer located in Cramant, one of finest areas for growing Chardonnay in France.  Bright and elegant. $42 range. This bubbly will make a nice pairing with caviar, oysters or white truffle popcorn and a nice gift for the holidays.

Champagne Chapuy Brut Reserve (NV)

A fabulous selection for our tasting.  100% Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes. Fresh with a fine mousse and a bit of lemon on the finish. This champagne would pair nicely with coquilles Saint-Jacques.  My notes I wrote in my notebook about this champagne said simply,  “Love this!”


 André Clouet Champagne Brut Bouzy Grande Reserve Brut (NV)

Just look at this beautiful label!!! This bubbly will make a fabulous holiday gift! 100% pinot noir grapes.  The wine spends 6 years on the lees giving it a rich mouth feel with notes of brioche and a creamy mousse.

From The Champagne Guide 2014-2015 by Tyson Stelzer (page 25): Lees are defined as sediment that settles in the bottom of a tank, barrel or bottle, comprised primarily of dead yeast cells. Acidity is the key to champagne, but its astringency makes these wines unapproachable in their youth. The mellowing, softening effect of age is crucial to the champagne style.  Dead yeast cells (‘lees’) from the second fermentation remain in the bottle and contribute subtly to  champagne’s complexity. The longer this process of “autolysis” persists the better, improving mouthfeel and longevity, and adding biscuity, bready nuances to the flavour profile.

The mandatory minimum in champagne is 15 months for non-vintage and three years for vintage wines, but reputable producers always far exceed these minima…prestige cuvées sometimes 10 years or more.



Gatinois Champagne Brut (NV)

90% pinot noir and 10% chardonnay.  This wine spends at least 3 years on the lees. Apple and cherry followed by lemon notes. Our host suggested pouring some of this champagne in a decanter and allow the fizz to die down somewhat, then serve in a pinot noir glass (like the red pinot noir wine) paired with pork or a filet.  Sounds like a fun pairing to try!


Champagne Michel-Arnould Champagne Grand Brut (NV)

70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Complex yet balanced with notes of ripe apple, apricot and a touch of cherry. Any grapes this producer does not use he sells to the Bollinger champagne house…one of my favorites.

“Which champagne do you like the best?”, I casually asked our host and his reply…

I love them all, just like my children.”

Here’s a link to an interesting article about why WE SHOULD NOT WAIT TO CELEBRATE! This article includes information about grower champagnes:


Happy Holidays! Cheers!

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