Playful, refreshing, and perfect for patio season, these delicious wines combine two of my favorite things: rosé and sparkling wine. This month, I’m sharing standout sparklers I’ve recently discovered in some of Denver’s best wine bars and dining establishments.
From brunch to dinner, these are food-friendly, sustainably crafted bottles curated by a few of the city’s most innovative sommeliers. They come in a range of styles from remarkable regions in Europe with stories to tell.
Despite what you may have heard, bubbles should not be limited to holiday dinners or aperitif pours. You sparkle every day – shouldn’t your wine do the same?
Domaine Allimant-Laugner Crémant d’Alsace at Vin Rouge Wine Bar
If you haven’t yet made it to Sunnyside to pull up a stool or lounge on the sofas at Vin Rouge Wine Bar, you must add it to your list. Owner Jenn Feinstein is one of the friendliest, most knowledgeable wine aficionados in the city. Her list features an ever-changing array of quality wines from around the world and she and her female-led staff are always ready to serve you with a smile. Each time I visit, I try something new and look forward to the team assembling an artisan cheese board to accompany the wines.
The Crémant d’Alsace from Domaine Allimant-Laugner is made of 100% sustainably farmed Pinot Noir. The region itself, which sits along the border of France and Germany, is located on the eastern side of the Vosges mountain range which separates it from the rest of France. The region is known for its delicious, highly aromatic white wines. When it comes to bubbles, Crémant is the order of the day.
Crémant is a category of sparking wines from various regions of France made using the champagne method, or méthod champenoise, in which the second fermentation that creates the lovely bubbles takes place in the individual bottles. The wines are of exceptional quality but since they are not made in Champagne, they typically demand lower prices making them an outstanding value.
The mousse, or texture of the bubbles, in particular, got me excited about this wine. The bubbles are consistent and fresh from the first pour to the last sip. The color is a soft salmon hue with aromas of red berry fruit and flowers popping from the glass. On the palate, the wine has a slightly creamy mouthfeel and a lovely acid structure. At 12.4% alcohol, you might as well order a bottle and take your time with it!
Folicello ‘Il Rosato’ Lambrusco Pét Nat 2020 at Safta
This is not your grandmother’s Lambrusco! Although she’d probably enjoy it as much as anyone, it’s not the sweet, dark red sparkling wine you may have tasted in the past. Made of 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro grapes, this is a natural yeast-fermented, certified organic wine made in the ancestral method in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.
While other sparkling wines undergo two separate fermentations, the first to create a still wine and the second to impart the lovely fizz, ancestral method, or pétillant naturel (“pet nat”) wines undergo just one ferment. The wine is bottled while the yeast is still in the process of converting the sugars to alcohol. The carbon dioxide that would normally escape is captured, resulting in soft, playful bubbles. Punchy aromas of strawberries and fresh herbs hit the nose straight away. On the palate, the texture is frothy and mild with added complexity from the unfiltered winemaking technique.
Speaking of grandma, ‘Safta’ is the Hebrew word for grandmother. Known for its award-winning Israeli cuisine, the restaurant’s wine list is eclectic and complimentary to the delicious, highly spiced dishes they serve. There’s not a dish on the menu that wouldn’t pair with this wine and that’s a plus since their dishes are best enjoyed when shared.
Champagne André Heucq Nature Terroir Héritage Rosé de Meunier Phase 1 NV at Noble Riot
In my humble opinion, not enough places offer true champagne by the glass. Perhaps restauranteurs are concerned that too few people will order it, which is really a shame. You’d be hard-pressed to find a wine bar in Paris that doesn’t pour the good stuff!
There’s a reason champagne is still considered the crème de la crème of the sparkling wine world. The region is dedicated almost exclusively to this style of wine crafted from the three classic grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The cool climate of the area delivers fruit with the powerful acid structure needed to create these remarkable, age-worthy wines.
Typically, the wines of champagne are an homage to the power of blending. Winemakers blend different grape varieties, as well as juice from various vintages to achieve the “house style” they desire. This particular wine is a rare example of a standalone expression of the Pinot Meunier grape, as well as a single vintage.
The André Heucq winery is located in the Vallée de la Marne subregion where they have embraced biodynamic farming practices in their production since the late 1980s. This wine is a pure expression of the grape from a single vineyard parcel. It’s savory and complex on the palate with flavors of cherry, pomegranate, and a touch of spice.
Noble Riot is a beacon for Denver’s wine lovers. A place where no matter your level of experience with wine, there’s always something new to taste. The team is passionate about sparkling and you’ll often catch them popping a top using a saber in the painted RiNo alleyway in front of the patio. The menu is chock-full of bubbly-friendly bites like fried chicken, Mediterranean spreads, and more.
Since it’s impossible to choose just one wine at Noble Riot, check out this bonus bottle: Handley Cellar’s Estate Vineyard Brut Rosé 2016. This stunning wine comes to Dever through the collection by Master Sommelier, Doug Krenik. A mentor of mine and a legend in the Colorado wine industry, Doug Krenik Selections brings an array of small-production artisan wines to restaurants and retail shops around the state.
The wine is a gorgeous copper hue made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. It’s packed with flavors of kiwi, citrus, and freshly baked bread. Absolute perfection on the Noble Riot patio!
Upcoming Sparkling Wine Event
Bubbles Education Class with Montana Rae at Salt & Acres
Want to dive deeper into sparkling wine? Join Certified Sommelier, Montana Rae, for a tasting and class featuring four exceptional sparkling wines from around the world! Sip among the vines as we discuss the origins, winemaking techniques, food pairing, and lots of useful tips on shopping and enjoying sparkling wine.
- Sunday, June 11, 2023
- 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
- Salt & Acres, 9490 Co Rd 25, Fort Lupton, CO 80621
- Presented by Salt & Acres, The Wine Ship, and Applejack Wine & Spirits
- Your ticket includes a tasting of four sparkling wines plus a curated sparkling wine learning guide
- Brunch items will be available for purchase