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Best Value Store Bought Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

supag32 Jun 25, 2009 06:06 PM

Anyone have any recommendations for store bought Champagne or sparkling wine -- under $35? Looking for value, not necessarily price...

Anywhere in Boston/Cambridge/North Shore.


  1. k
    khandha Jun 25, 2009 06:32 PM

    I've enjoyed the Domaine Carneros "Brut", which I think is a good value at about $25: crisp, with some complexity, and none of the sickly sweet flavors that I associate with cheap sparklers. The 2004 is giving way to the 2005 in the stores where I've seen it. Haven't tried the 2005...

    1. j
      jjbourgeois Jun 25, 2009 07:25 PM

      I know it's not Boston or North Shore, but Bin Ends in Braintree has some reasonably priced Cavas and Proseccos. Their inventory changes frequently so you may want to check on-line to see what's in stock or give them a call.

      1. StriperGuy Jun 25, 2009 09:55 PM

        Cava, Methode Champenoise sparklers from Spain are the best bang for the $. Segura Viudas Aria, or anything other then Freixnet (ick) is generally yummy.

        1. BostonZest Jun 26, 2009 06:03 AM

          I adore the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco. I think I bought some on sale at Bauer Wine on Newbury Street for about $15 recently.

          This was a sparkler we grew to love at the Butcher Shop and B & G. It's one of our favorites It's crisp, lovely, medium bodied and very food friendly. I'm going to go check if it's still on sale and order a case for our July 4th celebration.

          Thanks for the question that reminded me to order wine for the 4th.


          2 Replies
          1. re: BostonZest
            itaunas Jun 26, 2009 08:47 AM

            I am also a big fan of this wine, its just all around well made, a bit more body, good aroma. $15 is a good price (normally around $18 in most stores, some will offer a 20% case discount or when on sale). Nice for pre-meal drinking, but also holds up to food which I think is a weakness of many cavas and some proseccos. Please let us know if Bauer still has it on sale. Atlas right off 93N carries it for $18 and sometimes have sales on larger champagne producers.

            You didn't mention if this was for a celebration, gift, take to dinner, eat with food or alone. Your price is a bit shy of being able to buy champagne from a smaller producer, but you can probably find a Nicholas Feuillatte or Heidsieck Blue top (yellow label, seems to always be on sale at Cambridge Wine & Spirits) if you wanted to go that route. Mumm Napa Cuvee M I like as domestic drinking wine, not a huge fan of the basic domaine chandon blanc de blancs/noirs, but if you can find a Chandon Napa Reserve those are a big step up due to extra time on the lees and good acidity to go well with food. Martignetti's has a lot of good domestic options like Iron Horse, Gloria Ferrer, and so on in addition to the Gruet. For a dessert wine I love a brachetto which is sweet, red, and lower in alcohol its a good "bring to dinner" wine. Occasionally Brix, Martys or someone have some interesting ones from smaller producers in Piedmont, although the readily available pineto brachetto d'acqui marenco is around $20. (I would think this would also be up Berman's alley, but to be honest I don't recall ever seeing a brachetto there). I think we are all assuming that you are going to drink the wine right away because just about all the suggestions for that.

            1. re: itaunas
              BostonZest Jun 26, 2009 09:59 AM

              Yes, they have already delivered mine. It's $14.99 less a 10% case discount. And, they deliver to a wide area in Boston. Their regular price is $16.99 - an excellent value.



          2. l
            lescaret Jun 26, 2009 06:09 AM

            Gruet from New Mexico (of all places!) is an excellent sparkling wine and a great value. You can usually find it in the $15.99 range. The producers are a French family that happened to find the perfect spot for growing grapes somewhere in New Mexico and now make this terrific line of sparkling wines there. You won't be disappointed in any of their offerings.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lescaret
              BostonZest Jun 26, 2009 05:29 PM

              Another favorite of ours. My husband and I like the Blanc de Noir and the rosé more than the Brut but they are all good values.

              A couple of years ago we decided that we needed more sparkle than New Years Eve could provide and vowed to celebrate the 1st of each month with a sparkling wine. Naturally, we have explored the less expensive segment of the market and have found a lot of great values.


              1. re: BostonZest
                Schnowzer Jun 27, 2009 11:09 AM

                The Gruet is a great choice for domestic sparkling wine under $20, but if you want real champagne for about $35 per bottle, I recommend the Duval-Leroy Brut, which you can get at The Spirited Gourmet in Belmont or Winchester.

            2. StriperGuy Jun 26, 2009 07:02 AM

              Seriously, most Cava's are under $20 and very good. I like a good prosecco, but they are light spritzy summer wines. Some of the good Cava's are really Champagne quality wines for reasonable $. I often find that with Cava, the more obscure the producer the better the wine. They sort of have something to prove. I've tried literally 15 different ones and never been disappointed.

              2 Replies
              1. re: StriperGuy
                srgoodman Jun 26, 2009 07:38 AM

                I'm also a big fan of Cavas. I get Cristalino Extra Dry at Merchant's in Danvers for $6 or $7 a bottle. They also have a Brut, but I find that a bit bitter. It's as good or better than any of the California méthode traditionnelle (FKA méthode Champenoise) sparkling wines, and comparable to a low end French champagne, such as Moët White Star.

                1. re: srgoodman
                  shopgirl_07 Jun 27, 2009 06:22 PM

                  I love the Cristalino Brut, as in I could live on it. Only 6.99 at Trader Joe's.

              2. g
                gourmaniac Jun 26, 2009 07:47 AM

                I like Cremant de Bourgogne, sparkling white burgundy in the $15-20 range. We've switched away from Champagne to this for both cost and taste. Available at a couple of places (e.g. Brookline Liquor Mart) and can be ordered by the case from anyone.

                4 Replies
                1. re: gourmaniac
                  Janeinma Jun 26, 2009 10:55 AM

                  I like Domaine St. Michelle, averaging around $13 a bottle the extra dry is very pleasant and not sweet (at least to my palate). We always try to have extra bottles chilling in our house. I have seen the label in many local liquor stores

                  1. re: Janeinma
                    nsenada Jun 26, 2009 12:27 PM

                    I've really enjoyed some Lambruscos (red sparkling) I bought at the Wine Bottega in the North End (also like the Brachettos, as mentioned above, the Lambrusco tending to be drier and lighter, with a higher alcohol content). I can't remember any brands offhand, but they are good about describing the choices. Most should be in that price range, and are unusual. I do also enjoy the $6 Lambrusco at Trader Joe (La Grotte, I think?) which I believe is not that dissimilar from the Reunite I remember from my youth.

                  2. re: gourmaniac
                    BostonZest Jun 26, 2009 05:31 PM

                    Yet another group of Sparkling wines that we love- we often have a bottle with our meal at La Voile on Newbury. It seems perfect to enjoy it there.

                    TJ's on Memorial Drive usually has a selection of these in their Sparkling section.


                    1. re: gourmaniac
                      checkplease Jul 14, 2009 02:47 PM

                      We've tripped over cremant d'alsase from Pierre Sparr, a reputable producer of still Alsatians.

                      It's $9.99 at Yankee Spirits in Swansea, should be available up your way. Brookline was my favorite metro shop in the early 70's, yankees hold onto a good thing!

                    2. Tir_na_nOg Jun 27, 2009 05:34 PM

                      Since no one has mentioned it yet, Gordon's in Waltham has Brut Mionetto Brut Prosecco (~$10). I have a couple of bottles in the fridge, but haven't tried it yet. But it finished #1 in a recent Wall Street Journal tasting of Proseccos (don't laugh, the two WSJ wine writers know their stuff).


                      Argyle (from Oregon) makes some knock-your-socks-off domestic bubblies. Their 1998 Extended Tirage (aged for 10 years on the lees) is starting to approach the real French stuff in quality (~$50). Hard to find in the Boston area, but I've seen it at Wine Cellar of Silene in Waltham on occasion. Their less expensive vintage Brute Willamette Valley is also excellent (~$30).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                        BostonZest Jun 27, 2009 06:24 PM

                        This crew is hitting a lot of my favorite sparklers. A couple of years ago on July 4th we had magnums of Argyle Brut. This wine really shows best from the magnum bottle and it's fun to pop and pour a magnum of a sparkler at a party when you can do it at a reasonable price.

                        We live in a tiny place so the only wine glasses we have in quantity are champagne flutes. We always serve sparkling wine when we have a group. (Unless it's a wine tasting with wine friends.)

                        We like champagnes that are pinot forwarded and Argyle fills in nicely for some of our favorites.

                        Bauer wine ordered these for us. I have no idea if they are still available.


                      2. s
                        suzysue2 Jul 2, 2009 10:43 PM

                        Ask a salesperson at a quality wine shop about grower's champagnes, they are small production hand-crafted champagnes made from start to finish on the same estate. They are not as easy to find, but can be as good or better than the big names without the high prices. Two to ask about:
                        NV Moutard Brut (dist. by Vineyard Road)
                        NV Georges Gardet Brut (dist. by Terroir Wines)
                        Also, made locally, Westport Rivers in Westport, MA makes world-class sparkling wines in that price range from a variety of different grapes.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: suzysue2
                          BostonZest Jul 3, 2009 06:42 AM

                          How could I forget Westport Rivers? We often serve the Westport Cruvee RJR when we have guests from out of state. It's nice to show off a high quality product from this area.


                          And, we were given a great introduction to grower wines by Tom Schlesinger at Craigie street. We were looking for a bottle of sparking wine on one visit and he suggest one from the Terry Theise Collection and told us a bit about grower's champagnes, Terry Theise as an importer and his writing. I spent the next week reading from the website and catalog. Naturally, Tom prepared a note for us with everything we'd need to study and buy more of what we liked. Here's the site:



                        2. CocoDan Jul 3, 2009 08:14 AM

                          I'm not sure I understand the question ("store bought"). Do you normally make your own champagne? I always buy mine in a store.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: CocoDan
                            SEH Jul 13, 2009 05:54 AM

                            Could mean not purchased from the vineyard or online.

                            1. re: CocoDan
                              BostonZest Jul 13, 2009 07:54 AM

                              There are also some wonderful wines that never seem to make it to the retail store level. The entire supply seems to be allocated to the restaurant trade. They can sometimes be ordered by your wine merchant but are not something they would normally have on hand.


                            2. Bob Dobalina Jul 13, 2009 08:18 AM

                              Not sure if this qualifies - I tasted a bottle of Chartogne-Taillet at the Cambridge Formaggio a few years ago - it totally changed my concept of champagne - more caramel in color, it had a depth of flavor that I had not previously experienced. I'm far from an expert, but I love this stuff. I think you might find it at your price point, if you happen to see it around. I think the last bunch I bought was at Marty's in Newton.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                BostonZest Jul 13, 2009 09:21 AM

                                That's one of the Terry Theise grower wines that Tom at Craigie Street told us about. It's 50% Pinot Noir so you may prefer the Blanc de Noir style of Champagne.


                                My own preference is for sparklers that are heavy in Pinot. I'm seeing more of them on Boston wine menus and of course you can ask for a Pinot forward recommendation.


                                1. re: BostonZest
                                  Bob Dobalina Jul 13, 2009 09:31 AM

                                  Thanks for the tips, Penny. Really helpful.

                              2. b
                                BackBayGirl Jul 13, 2009 09:38 AM

                                Believe it or not, Cristallino Brut Cava is $6.99 at Trader Joe's and it is one of the best cavas I've had. They've also been very highly rated by Wine Spectator and other publications.

                                1. BostonZest Dec 31, 2009 09:42 AM

                                  Just bumping up this great conversation in case someone is looking for a bottle for tonight. This was so helpful that we linked to it for our New Years Eve wine article.



                                  1. shaogo Dec 31, 2009 10:18 AM

                                    I bought Cava Segura Viudas (sp?) two years ago and we loved it. Sprang for Duval-Leroy last year (out of your price range this year).

                                    This year's case is Charles de Fere Tradition Brut. 87 points Wine Enthusiast and a "best buy." I don't know what, if anything, Wine Spectator said anything about it. When I tasted it earlier this year it was dry, complex, and the effervescence was elegant. In the retail store it should be about $18.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: shaogo
                                      BostonZest Jan 2, 2010 05:34 AM

                                      Your spelling is correct- Was that the Aria? Friends had an opportunity to buy a case of Magnuns of that earlier this year and offered to split it with us. We really enjoyed it and will grab another case if the opportunity comes up again.

                                      I've asked Howie Ruben at Bauer Wine to watch for any good buys on magnums of the Aria an of the Argyle sparkling wine from Oregon. We love having Magnums to serve at parties.

                                      If anyone spots Magnums of either or any bottles of the 2005 Argyle, let me know.

                                      If you have a wine merchant that you work with they'll often bring something like that in when they know they already have one case sold.


                                      1. re: BostonZest
                                        suzysue2 Jan 4, 2010 04:06 PM

                                        The New York Times published a nice little article, and as far as I am concerned Champagne is perfect for every occasion (breakfast included).


                                        1. re: BostonZest
                                          Tir_na_nOg Jan 4, 2010 04:40 PM

                                          Gordan's in Waltham has the '05 Argyle Brut for $20 (WS 90; $30 release). Vinodivino in Newton has the '99 Argyle Extended Tirage for $62 (WS 95; $60 release). Just had the '98 ET for NYE, which was outstanding.

                                          1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                            BostonZest Jan 4, 2010 05:29 PM

                                            Thank you, thank you. I'm going to head to Waltham! I have to do a Costco run anyway!


                                            1. re: BostonZest
                                              Tir_na_nOg Jan 4, 2010 05:36 PM

                                              Better call and check that price. Sounds almost too good (2nd lowest price in the US)!

                                              Of course, now we have to pay sales tax too.

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