Affordability is one of the few virtues Champagne doesn’t possess. Fortunately, great bubbles abound (if you know where to look). Here, a handful of under-the-radar gems to toast your next fete.
Cremant de Loire
Breton “La Dilettante” Vouvray Brut NV, $20
(Loire Valley, France)
Chenin Blanc is rarely mentioned in the same breath as other venerated sparkling wine grapes (Chardonnay), but in the right hands it yields an equally intriguing tipple—steely, minerally, but with a pronounced stone-fruit lushness.
Col Fondo Prosecco
Ca’ dei Zago , $20
In contrast to the majority of prosecco made in the Charmat method (where secondary fermentation takes place in pressurized tanks), bottle-fermented col fondo prosecco is left on the lees (dead yeast cells), resulting in a cloudy, drier, funkier wine.
Halfway between Lyons and Geneva, in view of both palm trees and snow-capped mountains, lies one of France’s best-kept wine secrets. Here, the tiny area of Bugey produces bright, faintly sweet rosé sparklers from Gamay and Poulsard.
Related: Sparkling Wines That Make Perfect Holiday Gifts:
Contadi Castaldi Brut, $22
Italy’s answer to Champagne, Franciacorta is not only made in the same “traditional method,” with a focus on Chard and Pinot Noir (along with some Pinot Blanc), it exhibits all the elegance and effervescence of its Gallic counterpart.