A Toast to East End Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

Champagne and decorations
Pick up a bottle of local sparkling wine for your holiday festivities. Photo credit: IvanMikhaylov/iStock/Thinkstock

The holidays are a time for celebrating, and toasting with some bubbly has become synonymous with the season.

Only wine produced from grapes grown in France’s Champagne region can be called Champagne, but Long Island is home to a distinctly East End take on the sparkling tradition.

“When it comes to choosing wines for the holidays, drinking local means supporting your community, neighbors and friends,” says Donnell Brown, senior marketing manager at Wölffer Estate Vineyard, which will offer two varieties for the Hamptons holiday table. “It’s also fun—and more meaningful—to share something ‘from home’ with loved ones who may not even know that wine—especially really good wine—is made on Long Island.”

And people are taking note, as New York State was named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, beating out such titans of the industry as Champagne, France and Chianti, Italy.

“Sparkling wine is uplifting and fun, and its effervescence dances on your tongue,” continues Brown. “It pairs remarkably well with just about any food, is easy to drink and looks beautiful in the glass. And hey, what other wine can you open with a saber?”

“The holidays are time to celebrate life and to be with the people you love and care about, so it is the perfect wine to drink at the holidays,” adds Dana Kowaisick, Marketing and Wine Club Manager at Lieb Cellars. Cheers to that!

Wölffer Estate Vineyard, Lieb Cellars and Sparkling Pointe all produce sparkling wines. Here’s the rundown of local varieties to consider when toasting the holiday season:

Located in Sagaponack, Wölffer Estate Vineyard has two méthode champenoise wines on offer this holiday season—the Noblesse Oblige Sparkling Rosé as well as Blanc de Blanc 2011. “Winemaker Roman Roth works in a meticulous traditional way, which gives our sparkling wines that unmistakable fine CO2 mousse and yeast character of great bubbly,” Brown says of the selection of Wölffer sparklings.

With locations in Mattituck, Cutchogue and East Hampton, Lieb Cellars will have a Blanc de Blanc on offer this holiday season. The wine is made from 100% pinot blanc grapes. “We are the only winery in the United States to produce this particular sparkling. The majority of Blanc de Blanc sparkling is produced from Chardonnay grapes,” says Kowaisick.

Also on the North Fork, Sparkling Pointe in Southold is the only vineyard in New York State dedicated exclusively to the production of sparkling wines. Their holiday wine of the season is the 2005 Brut Seduction. This tête de cuvée brut contains 57% chardonnay and 43% pinot noir grapes, aged for over eight years on the leaves. “It’s unique that it’s aged for so long, which gives it a heavier mouthfeel,” says Kelsey Cheslock, the marketing and social media coordinator at Sparkling Pointe. This wine is not very fruit-forward because of the aging; it has more of a nutty, almondy and smoky taste. The Brut Seduction was named Best Sparkling Wine in New York State at the New York State Food and Wine Classic. “A lot of people don’t think sparkling could go with food, but it can,” continues Cheslock, who recommends the Brut Seduction with bigger, heartier flavors and meals. For another sparkling option, Cheslock says that the 2011 Brut is the most popular of their varieties, as it’s similar to a traditional Champagne. Aged only two years, it’s very fruit-forward with hints of apple and pear, and a toastier finish.

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