By Rick Riozza

To the surprise of many, we’ve heard that referring to a wine as “super-duper” dates back all the way to Shakespearean times! There’s an account of Billy Shakespeare tasting a Port wine and commenting, “Man!—that is one super-duper wine!”

Some have questioned that account as a bit dubious since Shakespeare was a pure ale drinker, and, Shakespeare’s mom never referred to her son as “Billy”, even when he was just a baby. Further, the Collins Dictionary of American English claims that “the rhyming compound phrase was first recorded in the period of 1935-1940.” But as to British English—well, there still could be some debate.

Anyway—more to our point here in this column, a “super-duper” sparkler would include an array of bubblies that are either delicious and/ or a great value buy for the buck. For instance, an awesome tasting bubbly, even at $100. would qualify as a super-duper quaff; and, a great tasting sparkler for only $15 would qualify as a super-duper deal as well! Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, we covered some of the more prestige sparkling wines from California, where price was not the object, it was rather, all about world-class flavor.


So since the summer is already upon us here in the desert, let’s cover and bring to attention some of the world’s super-duper sparklers available now at our local markets and wine shops.

For as many times as we’ve written on bubblies, we usually categorize them: as with the French Champagne and Crémant; the Italian Prosecco, Asti, Lambrusco, Franciacorta, and Trentadoc; the German Sekt; California Sparkling Rose, the Spanish Cava and Espumoso and others with world-wide nomenclature. This time, let’s not separate categories, but rather separate them by price points: the super-duper deals, the mid-points, and the expensive.

Our first super deal is the Lucien Albrecht Brut Cremant d”Alsace NV ($15). This is a wine that delivers way beyond its pay grade. This Crémant Brut allies freshness, structure and subtleness. The bubbles are fine and delicate with regular mousse persistence. An expressive nose full of fresh fruits: apple, peaches and apricots. Nice maturity and flavors of ripe fruit on the palate.

Next is one of our favorite McBride Sisters Collection Brut Rosé Hawke Bay NV ($17). “A radiant pink hue, this Hawke’s Bat bubbly is exuberant and fruity with aromas of watermelon, strawberries and cream that lead to a palate that’s dry with more fresh fruit, a slippery texture and plenty of lively fizz. It’s fun, refreshing everyday drinking.”

91 points!

For Cava enthusiasts, look for the 2018 Juvé Y Campas Brut Nature Cava
Reserva de la Familia Gran Reserva
($18). The winery’s tasting notes state: “Pale gold in color, this Cava has aromas of mature white peach, toasted bread and green tea with hints of lemon citrus and apricots. Equally rich and broad on the palate, these flavors continue to unfold on the palate. Pair with: paté, seafood, tapas, paellas, grilled poultry or cured meats. 91 Points.

As to the medium-priced sparklers, the super deals at around $30 to $50 include: The real French Champagne, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne Reserve Exclusive NV ($39). It is composed of Chardonnay for elegance and delicacy, Pinot Noir for roundness and structure and Pinot Meunier for fruitiness. Pale gold in color, abundance of delicate bubbles. Floral aromas of fruit with subtle predominance of white fruits: pear, apple, almonds and hazelnuts. Fresh opening, smooth, pleasant and balanced.

This wine is an ideal accompaniment for Breton lobster and cream sauce, sole morel mushrooms, chicken brochettes with citronella. Blend: 40% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay

California chimes in here with the delicious 2020 Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros ($35). A sparkling wine that shows off pure elegance. Ripe aromas of white flowers, apple pie, and citrus peel are enhanced with notes of toasted brioche and vanilla. Medium-bodied on the palate, delicately structured, round and flavorful with a signature long, creamy finish. 93 points!

For those wishing to taste a Spanish Espumoso for the first time, look for the 2020 Josep Maria Raventos I Blanc Extra Brut Vino Espumoso de la Finca. ($35) A sparkling wine from the DO Conca del Riu Anoia and made with the Xarel.lo, Macabeau, Parellada varieties. This wine comes from one of our most historic vineyards: Vinya dels Fòssils. Ideal wine to accompany appetizers, seafood or alone.

A firm backbone of Meyer lemon peel acidity frames this vivid sparkler, enmeshed with rich notes of lightly charred toast and smoked almond, backed by flavors of ripe white cherry and peach fruit. Hints of thyme and anise play on the finish. 92 Points!

So let’s close out with some expensive super-duper bubbly: The French Champagne 2008 Henriot Brut Champagne Cuvée Hemera ($195). This is another fabulous Champagne that delivers way bewond its pay grade. Yeah—it’s close to two hundred bucks but it tastes like a two thousand dollar quaff!!

“Beautifully mature, this Champagne is from grand cru vineyards, giving richness and layers of white fruits. It is textured with spice and softened white fruits celebrating that the wine is just right now. So drink now.” says wine critic Roger Voss

A beautiful Oregon bubbly is the 2018 Argyle Blanc de Blancs Eola-Amity Hills Spirit Hill Vineyard ($60). “Argyle never disappoints with wines that sparkle. This 100% Chardonnay bubbly first persuades with apple, freshly baked bread and honeysuckle aromas. The closing argument features lemon zest, pink grapefruit, crushed walnut and honey flavors that are elevated by zingy acidity. You may surrender now”—Wine Enthusiast.

And for an Italian finale: 2011 Guido Berlucchi Extra Brut Fraciacorta Palazzo Lana Extreme Riserva ($130). Tasting Notes: Rich, copper-tinged straw-yellow with broad and generous with hints of tropical fruit, peaches, candied orange peel and crusty bread. Displays exceptional freshness, crisp flavor and structure with harmonious acidity and mineral notes, making the wine extremely lingering and long-lived. 93 Points! Saluti!