The Best Champagne for a Golden Globes Viewing Party

Courtesy of brand; Courtesy of Courtesy of Cheryl Saban; Adobe Stock

Celebrate the Golden Globes with an exciting (and under-the-radar) bubbly or sparkling wine made by small growers of passion and refinement.

Watch the 2020 Golden Globes on Sunday with a glass of bubbly in hand. After all, who among us doesn’t react to the sound of a popping cork with a smile, with longing, a sense of expectation and release? It’s practically Pavlovian.

For those hosting a viewing party or an afterparty, here are nine options for champagne and sparkling wines, along with a set of classy flutes. These bottles were selected because, for all the hubbub surrounding bubbles in the glass, it’s easy to forget that these wines are wines, borne of fruit, grown in some of the world’s most challenging climates, made through intricate, exacting processes, resulting in one of the most complex wines in the world. And more than ever producers have taken to these steps with newfound passion, and with the meticulous care of an artisan.

Two trends have set modern champagne and sparkling wine production apart. The first is the rise of grower producers, who have backed away from selling their fruit to large champagne houses and begun productions of their own, using their own fruit, and working on a much smaller, more intimate scale. Where once the number of champagne houses could be compiled in the hundreds, now that number exceeds 4,000. And that trend of artisan sparkling wine production extends to the rest of the world, including the U.S.

Winemakers devoted to natural practices are taking their acts of independence still further, using natural yeasts to ferment their wines, eschewing filtration, avoiding sulfur, even additions like sugar for “Brut Zero” levels of dryness. Still others, practitioners of Pet-Nats, are leaving the detritus of secondary fermentations to lie in the bottom of the bottle, contributing texture and funk. These are some of the hallmarks of natural winemaking, and they’re being extended to sparkling wine, too.

These exciting producers, from the U.S. and abroad, are taking sparkling winemaking to new levels of rigor, passion, and refinement.

Flutes

1. Cheryl Saban

Artisanal glass in metallic styles; $65 each, cherylsabanglass.com.

Champagne

1. Louis Roederer et Philippe Starck 2009 Brut Nature

From the house behind Cristal — the original “bling” bottle — comes its polar opposite of sorts, a champagne collab with designer Philippe Starck. With no added sugar, it’s clean and kinetic, much like Starck’s designs, with mouthwatering intensity; $90, wallywine.com.

2. Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne NV Brut

Grower producers who have backed away from selling their fruit to large champagne houses and began productions of their own include Chartogne-Taillet. Its superb entry-level Sainte Anne NV Brut from the Montagne de Reims is a perfect balance of gingery, salty tang and mouthwatering apple flavors, hinting at richness; $47, klwines.com.

3. Under the Wire 2014 Alder Springs Brut Rosé

Part of a new wave of artisan sparkling wine production in California, Chris Cottrell and Morgan Twain-Peterson make single-vineyard, single-vintage bottlings, this one from pinot noir sourced in a cool site in the wilds of Mendocino County. It’s nervy and vinous, with a salmon color and red cherry flavors that feel as if it's planted in cool soil; $60, klwines.com.

4. Cruse Wine Co. NV Brut Tradition

Michael Cruse makes one of California’s most elusive sparkling wines, the single-vineyard Ultramarine. It’s a wine that people speak of not so much in terms of tastings as of sightings, like a UFO. His NV Brut Tradition is more readily available — and is downright delicious, tight and tense while succulent and full of bright fruit flavors; $50, backroomwines.com.

5. Las Jaras Wines 2017 Sparkling Wine

Actor and comedian Eric Wareheim (Master of None) and Joel Burt make two rare-ish sparkling wines with Carignane, an earthy Spanish variety that’s an unusual choice as a base for bubbles. One is a pétillant naturel (pet-nat) from old vines. Their 2017 Sparkling Wine is a brut in the style of champagne that’s dry, tense, earthy and flavorful; $42, lasjaraswines.com

6. Sin Eater 2018 Mendocino County Pet-Nat

From Yamakiri Wines’ Lisa Bauer and Alex Crangle, this succulent pet-nat (a style of sparkling wine that is only partially fermented) is made from biodynamically grown pinot gris grapes. Not quite bone dry, it has a slightly cloudy hue, a yeasty scent and flavors that hint at cider and lemon zest. Completely seductive and mouthwatering; $29, stanleys.la.

7. Wenzlau Vineyard Santa Rita Hills 2013 Cuvée L’Inconnu Estate Blanc de Blanc 

A vibrant 100 percent chardonnay sparkler from a small family winery (with 12 acres of vines) in the cooler reaches of Santa Barbara County, this wine spent four years on its lees, with zero added dosage. It is crisp and vibrant, with a lemony, salty tang and just enough toastiness to bolster the middle palate; $50, stanleys.la.

8. Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Premier Cru 2014 Cuvee Gastronome Blanc des Blancs

From a grower with relatively large holdings in the Côte de Blancs, this is meant to be a table wine and is bottled at a slightly lower pressure than most champagnes for that purpose, with superb balance between crisp golden apple and toasted lees, with a hint of peach. Refreshing, but with depth; $66, thewinecountry.com.

9. Onward Malvasia Bianca 2016

A well-balanced wine from Capp Inn Ranch in the Suisun Valley; $24, onwardvines.com.   

This story first appeared in the Jan. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.