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Dec 29, 2000 04:00 AM

Good Cheap Bubbly

  • m

A recommendation for holiday toasting:

J. Laurens Brut Cremant de Limoux, MSRP $11 – This one comes from a small French town in the eastern Pyrenees. Sparkling wines were fermented in the bottle in Limoux earlier than the practice was adopted in Champagne. Pale amber in hue with fast mousse, full nose with apple cider aromas and biscuit, dry, medium-bodied with bright acidity, feels denser in the mouth than Champagne, delivers a lot of palate interest for this price point with applesauce, pear and leesy complexity, cleanly made, rounded finish, VERY GOOD [tasted three times with consistent notes]

Widely available, we bought ours at discounter K&L Wines in San Francisco for $9.

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  1. Then of course you got the various Prosecco de Valdobiodendne from italy (the common one you will find in wine stores is Nino Franco, its quite good), Reisling Sekt from Germany (my personal fave) and sparkling Weisserburgunders.

    All good alternatives to champagne.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Jason Perlow

      Yes, Prosecco is underpriced for quality too, although these are more fruit-driven. The remarkable thing about the J. Laurens is how much leesy/bread dough character it shows, quite unusual for under $20. Could beat out many low-priced Champagnes, and there's the French cachet too.

      I've only had one good Riesling Sekt in this country and it's no longer imported. Which do you like?

      The modern Cavas using more French varieties and less woody brandy for dosage are remakable too with many good choices under $15. An excellent buy is the Jaume Serra "Cristalino" Cava which is only $6 at Cost Plus - fresh and fruity nose, nice yeasty undertone, and a pretty package with gold foil label making it look more expensive than it is.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        The Reisling Sekt I have is the Fitz Ritter from the Pfalz. $10.99.

        Gotta visit Nancy's next time you are in NYC. Lots of cool RM champagnes at this shop.

        1. re: Jason Perlow

          I slipped away to the wine store(s) this afternoon to see what's available in Sekt locally. The shelves of all bubblies are fairly denuded of the prestige sparklers. The 1997 Fitz Ritter from the Pfalz is $18 here! Is your bottle vintage?

          There were two others available, 98 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Sekt from SA Prüm @ $19 and 97 Majoratsfüllung Riesling Extra Dry Sekt from Reichsgraff von Kesselstatt @ $18, both fine producers. Since Annegret Reh-Gartner, the proprietress of von Kesselstatt sent me a CD for New Year's, I bought her bottle in order to play/drink them together and be able to let her know how I like both.

          Also saw the Bellavista Franciacorta Brut for $20 and bought one to pop open for NYE too. Haven't tried one for a couple years. The sleek glass bottle is beautiful if nothing else.

          All of these bottles are outside the range of what I'd consider "cheap". But I'm using sunday night as a chance to broaden my experience in the international world of sparkling wines and thought these would be two interesting entries. I've also got a Finger Lakes bubbly.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Yep, its vintage. Guess I should buy some more?

            1. re: Jason Perlow

              Only if you like it. (g)

              Is it 1997 too? the bottle I saw in the store today was imported by Valckenberg Int'l., same importer?

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Was also searching through the rack and just saw I had a 1997 Schumann-Nagler sekt b.A. trocken from Rheingau, 11.5 percent (beerenauslese trocken??? try to decipher that one!). Bought it at a local wine shop in NJ, forgot what the hell I paid for it. Havent tried it yet but maybe I should crack it open.

          1. re: Jason Perlow

            In that form, "b.A." means bestimmter Anbaugebiete, which is the quality rating below the level of QmP wines. Chaptalization is allowed, whereas it is not for QmP (Kabinett, Spätlese, etc.).

            Please note proper spelling of Riesling.