White Hot and Bubbly
Anticipating the flakes that will soon be blanketing everything in sight, this season's hottest sparkling wines are adorned in their winter whites. Champagne and other bubbly offerings are dressed in stark, opaque bottles that hide the effervescence contained within, but they are anything but plain.
Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial
The first Champagne specifically created by be enjoyed over ice, Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial is made from a different cuvée (and a higher dosage) than drier Champagnes. “The [winemaking] team recognized that adding ice would lover the wine’s temperature and soften flavors, so they created a richer blend made with 70-90% of red grapes,” notes Regional Marketing Director Donae Burston. Pinot Noir adds intensity, while Pinot Meunier provides fleshy roundness; Chardonnay rounds out the blend and gives fresh, thirst-quenching acidity, says Burston, who suggests serving it chilled over three large ice cubes in a Carbernet-style wine glass. “The large glass shape not only makes room for the addition of ice, but also allows the wine to open up.” Mint leaves, a lime wedge, strawberries or raspberries can heighten freshness and aromatics, either dropped into the glass, added to the rim or place atop it on a skewer. Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial is available in many major markets, and it retails for $64.99.
Anna de Codorniu Brut Cava
In 1984, the Spanish Cava house’s flagship product was the first Cava to include Chardonnay in the blend. This year, the wine—named for the heiress who in 1659 married viticulturist Miquel Raventós whose descendants revolutionized sparkling winemaking in Spain—was recently repackaged in a white bottle that’s festively fitting for seasonal and other celebrations. (The new tagline for the wine, “What are you celebrating?” is designed to evoke inspirations of celebrating life’s big and little moments.) A blend of 70% Chardonnay, 15% Parellada and 15% Macabeo (Xarel-Lo) is sourced from estate-grown fruit near Barcelona. It possesses aromas of pineapple, lime and grapefruit, elegant citrus on the palate, and a well-balanced, refreshing finish. The company suggests serving it as before a meal, or paired with sushi, sashimi or lightly spiced carpaccio. Anna de Codorniu Brut Cava retails for $14.99.
Champagne Lanson White Label
A dry (“sec”) Champagne with a dosage in-between brut and demi-sec, Lanson While Label is also the first Champagne designed to pair with, and enhance the aromas and flavors of, fresh fruit. “With its delicate hint of sweetness, the Prosecco customer may move more easily to [this] Champagne,” admits Enguerrand Baijot, Champagne Lanson Director for North America. “Also, very often in Champagne we have the reputation to take ourselves too seriously, whereas the white label is all about fun.” The sec style is admittedly a niche product, says Baijot, which may help it stand out as an aperitif in the U.S. market; he also recommends pairing a glass of it with foie gras, chicken liver pâté or brunch dishes. Aromas of white flowers, summer pears and a hint of minerality are followed by notes of white fruit, and a soft, delicate, slightly chalky finish. Champagne Lanson White Label retails for $59.99.
JP Chenet Ice Edition
When Bordeaux sparkling wine house JP Chenet was looking to target a younger, trend-following demographic to help them rediscover the way they enjoy sparkling wine, they thought outside the box—and into the ice cube tray. The resulting offering was JP Chenet Ice Edition, a new bubbly produced with the Charmat (tank) method that’s meant to be enjoyed in a large glass, over ice. “We wanted to create a new way of drinking sparkling wines, to give the opportunity to the consumer to live a new experience,” notes a representative for JP Chenet. Overt aromas of tropical fruit, white flowers and citrus are joined by a creaminess and smoothness on the palate, and a well-balanced finish. Serve it simply chilled over ice, or mix it with mint leaves or infused syrups for a sparkling cocktail or apéritif. JP Chenet Ice Edition made its debut in the United States in June, 2014, and retails for $19.99.
François Montand Ice Edition
Produced in a demi-sec style, François Montand Ice Edition’s sweetness is balanced by the addition of ice in the glass when served. This traditional method sparkling wine is produced in France’s Jura region from southern France-sourced grapes including Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Chardonnay. It’s fermented at a low temperature—which preserves the fresh aromas of exotic fruits—and then aged on the lees for nine months, which leads to a rich, complex finish. The company recommends serving it well-chilled, with a few mint leaves or red fruits (berries or cherries) for added flavor. Its creamy mousse, sweetness and lively acidity make it a good accompaniment to spicy food, Asian food and nut-based desserts. François Montand Ice Edition retails for $18.