Before we talk about the best local sparkling wines to uncork for New Year's Eve, let me just say this – do not only drink bubbly on special occasions. Sparkling wine – be it Champagne, Cava, Prosecco or something local – deserves a spot in your regular wine-drinking rotation. It's great with food and can make any occasion a special one.
Okay, that being said, bubbly is a tradition for many on New Year's Eve, and we're lucky to have some outstanding versions being made right here on the East End of Long Island.
2007 Blanc de Blancs ($35): Long one of my favorites (my wife and I toasted one another with a previous vintage at our wedding) this 100 percent pinot blanc bubbly offers a burst of golden and green apple aromas with layers of citrus zest, citrus blossom, apple skin, honey and toasty yeast notes. The crisp, dry palate brings a bit more of that yeasty doughy character sprinkled over a melange of green apple, lemony citrus, Bosc pear and blanched nut flavors – dancing with persistent, delicate bubbles.
1996 Cuvee RD ($60): With extended time on the lees (residual yeast cells and after matter after fermentation) this wine is rich and nutty with intriguing earthy qualities to go with tree fruit character that has mellowed over time. If vintage Champagne is your thing, give this one a shot.
Lenz Winery 2004 Cuvee ($30): Much more fruit-forward than the 1996, but with some of the same marzipan and yeast notes, this is classic Long Island sparkling wine – and a wine that winemaker Eric Fry is justifiably well-known for. Actually, he makes the Lieb Family Cellars for them as well.
2004 Blanc de Blanc ($42): French-born winemaker Gilles Martin has made delicious local bubbly for years. This is his first BdB for Sparkling Pointe and it might be my favorite of their current releases. Fresh apple, blanched almonds, almond cream and apple blossom mingle on the nose leading into a fruity-but-sleek palate that is fresh, clean with nice almond and floral nuances.
2006 Noblesse Oblige ($40): This pretty blend of 54 percent pinot noir and 46 percent chardonnay shows inviting toasty brioche aromas layered with peach, cherry-cranberry and subtle citrus. The red fruit character is a bit more pronounced on a creamy palate enlivened with terrific acidity, while the stone fruit takes a step back. Golden apple emerges as the wine warms just a bit and is a bit more apparent on the medium-long citrusy palate. This wine is sold out at the winery, but can be found at a few wine shops in the area.
These are just a handful of the local bubblies available. Get out there and find your own favorite. Drink local!