Blackberry Farm’s Head Sommelier, Andy Chabot, shares his picks for sparking wines—from Grande Cuvée Champagne to great-value cava.
1. Krug, Grande Cuvée, NV France
If you’re looking to splurge, this Champagne is the one. It’s consistently one of the most powerful, creamy, toasty, and well-made Champagnes you can find. The gougères offer a simple, salty contrast to the zesty and toasty Champagne. Together, they’re practically the perfect meal.
2. Pierre Paillard, Brut Grand Cru, NV France
This is true Champagne—meaning made in the Champagne region of France, following the strict production methods required by law. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from a Grand Cru Village there called Bouzy. It’s fresh but powerful and slightly toasty which matches the warm baked gougères.
3. Wimmer Czerny, Blanc de Noirs, Wagram, Austria
A beautiful traditionally-made sparkling wine from a Biodynamic producer in the Wagram region of Austria. All of the wines made by this producer are absolutely stunning examples of their category, but his sparkling wine, which is vintage dated, is a showstopper. Pour this at your cocktail party, and you’ll be the hero of the wine geeks and the wine snobs alike!
4. Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvée, Green Valley of Sonoma, NV California
Made from predominantly Pinot Noir grapes in Sonoma, this golden hued wine is one of the most consistently excellent American sparkling wines. The weight of the Pinot Noir grapes and intensity of this sparkling wine are great if you want to add a pinch of nutmeg to the gougères recipe!
5. Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, Calistoga, 2012 California
This terrific, traditionally produced sparkling wine comes from one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley. The wine is aged for around two years on the lees (like in Champagne) before being released, and that gives the wine a toasted quality that is simply wonderful with the gougères.
6. Domaine Huet, Vouvray, Petillant, 2009 France
From one of the very best and most traditional producers in the world. This sparkling wine (petillant is French for fully sparkling wine) comes from Vouvray, a region in the Loire Valley known for Chenin Blanc grapes. This is a chance to get a really top quality sparkling wine for a great price; it’s great example of why you don’t have to sacrifice quality for budget in your bubbly.
7. Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit Virginia
This cider—made with heirloom apples by Diane Flynt, one of the country’s top producers—is a great sparkling alternative. The First Fruit is exceptionally dry with beautifully elegant bubbles that are very Champagne-like. And it’s a touch lower in alcohol than Champagne so you can drink it a little more freely.
8. Mestres, “1312”, Cava, NV Spain
One of my favorite Spanish sparkling producers is Mestres. In Northeastern Spain, where sparkling wine is the tradition, the indigenous grapes used impart a refreshing acidity and uniquely toasted aroma that works beautifully with the gougères.