Sparkling wines, easier on the budget than Champagne

Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:10am EST
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Krug Champagne, which sold at auction for nearly $5,000 a bottle earlier this month, may be a bit too pricey for many holiday budgets, but wine experts say there are more affordable alternatives on offer.

Sparkling wines, from France, Spain, Germany and the United States, are a good substitute for Champagne and won't break the budget.

"Prosecco is definitely an alternative, but it must be the real thing," said Ed McCarthy, author of "Champagne for Dummies."

McCarthy suggested buying Prosecco made in the original Italian region of Valdobbiadene-Conegliano, about a 90-minute drive northwest of Venice, where the grape is grown. A bottle from the area sells for $10-$20.

Most non-vintage Champagnes cost about $40 a bottle or more in shops in New York and London. The prestige "tete de cuvee" Champagnes, range from $120 to $300 or more a bottle, depending on the producer and vintage.

Krug's top of the line Clos du Mesnil Champagne, made from the Chardonnay grapes of a single vineyard, is priced at $850 to $900 a bottle, even at the Chateau's cellar door, according to McCarthy. Sotheby's sold a case of 12 bottles of the 1990 vintage for $58,188 on December 1.

For wines from France's Loire region, he suggested bottles from Gratien & Meyer, who have been producing sparkling wines for more than a century. Their Brut Saumur Anjou averages about $17 a bottle.

He also praised Bouvet-Ladubay, another Loire producer, whose wines average about $13 a bottle.   Continued...

A bottle of Champagne (L) stands next a bottle of Prosecco in a wine shop in the Valdobbiadene valley, northern Italy, July 4, 2008. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri