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Raventós i Blanc de la Finca 2015

Conca del Riu Anoia, Catalonia, Spain, $25

In 1872, Josep Raventós produced the first sparkling wine in Spain using the traditional methode champenoise, with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle. This style, and later appellation, was to become known as cava. Recently, the Raventós family decided to cease producing wine in accordance with Cava appellation regulations and is working toward creating a new appellation for sparkling wines with stricter criteria and a more narrowly defined geographic area to truly highlight their unique terroir.

Raventós i Blanc de la Finca is a blend of three indigenous grapes — xarello, macabeo and parellada — grown biodynamically in the Vinya dels Fòssils vineyard, where the winery’s oldest vines reside. The vineyard’s marine soils with high fossil content greatly impact the profile of the wines produced here. A delicate mousse slowly subsides to reveal gentle yet persistent streams of bubbles, rising to form rings on the surface. The nose of this pale yellow wine hints of stone fruits, citrus, florals and salinity from marine sediments. The palate delivers laser-focused minerality, and the mouthfeel is pure silk. With flirtatious fruity and herbaceous notes sidling in the background, this zero-dosage wine is impressive in its austere simplicity. Acid is well balanced throughout, and the finish is clean and lingering. Pair with raw oysters, tortilla de bacalao, Garrotxa cheese and anything with anchovies.

This is the gold standard for Spanish sparkling wine, and, at $25, you can enjoy it for less than a gram of real gold.

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Hopkins Vineyard Sparkling Wine Gold Label

Western Connecticut Highlands, New Preston, $39

Hopkins Vineyard was one of Connecticut’s first wineries, transitioning from a dairy farm to a vineyard in 1979. The scenic vineyard, overlooking Lake Waramaug in New Preston, grows 11 varieties of grapes, several of which are used to make sparkling wine. Although many Connecticut wineries offer effervescent wine, it is unusual to find one produced in the traditional method. Hopkins is producing two sparklers crafted in the methode champenoise.

Created with an equal blend of estate-grown pinot noir and chardonnay, Hopkins Vineyard Sparkling Wine Gold Label erupts into a frothy mousse in the glass, its energetic bubbles battling each other in a race to the top. Golden blonde, this youthful sparkler emits aromas of green apple, raw almonds, fresh fennel, lime blossoms, and a hint of white bread toast. Aged in oak for nine months, it coats the mouth in a smooth, creamy wave, evoking both the feel and taste of lemon chiffon pie. Racy acidity is displayed throughout, culminating in a lip-smacking finish, where a whisper of wood can be detected. A wine this high in acid absolutely begs for food. Pair this ebullient bubbly with fried oysters, chicken in cream sauce, and Brie topped with a dollop of lemon curd.

While all that glitters may not be gold, this Gold Label definitely sparkles for $39.

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Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle #24

Champagne, France, $150

A tête de cuvée is the finest a champagne house has to offer. It is usually a vintage champagne, as vintages are only declared in the best growing years. Laurent-Perrier, founded in 1812 and one of France’s most successful champagne houses, flouts convention with a blend of vintages for its prestige bottling. Although technically this makes Grand Siècle a nonvintage champagne, it might more appropriately be described as multi-vintage, with each part contributing to the creation of a more superlative whole.

Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle #24 is a blend of 55 percent chardonnay and 45 percent pinot noir from the 2004, 2006 and 2007 vintages. The traditional flacon-shaped bottle contributes to Grand Siècle’s allure. Its pearly mousse melts while a persistent stream of minuscule bubbles burst from the bottom, ending in a crescendo of rapid-fire rings on the surface. The straw-yellow champagne’s nose is redolent of baked apples, apricot, white orchids and freshly baked brioche, with a pleasant yeasty note. Both the nose and the attack are quite elegant, belying the wonderful weight and structure of what’s to come. The palate is at once refined and rich, with beautiful balance and hints of candied lemon rind and pine nuts, finishing on a steely note of minerality. A mature sparkler that can be sipped alone, this champagne would also shine with oysters Rockefeller, creamy camemberts and gamey meats, especially duck.

One of the finest prestige cuvées available, this liquid gold is worth its $150 price tag.

Renée B. Allen, CSW, FWS, CSS, is a wine and spirits expert and the director of the award-winning Wine Institute of New England, which offers wine and spirits education and events. Allen is a professor at the University of New Haven, a wine competition director and judge, and can be seen on WFSB’s Better Connecticut.

This article appeared in the January 2020 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.