The Best Espumantes For NYE
The very mention of the words ‘New Year’s Eve’ conjures up vivid images of glittering parties, exuberant groups of friends and family anticipating the coming year full of promise. On this night, the world collectively pauses to bid farewell to the old year while expectantly embracing the new. The energy is palpable and the decorative twinkling lights reflect from glasses filled with a golden liquid, its bubbles shimmery and constant, like a beacon of joy. This symbol of effervescence is a liquid manifestation of the celebration that is about to unfold. Claiming its place as the unofficial ambassador of celebration, in the midst of this jubilant chaos is the premier elixir that rises above all else on this night: the sparkling wine (or espumante in Argentina).
Although historically Argentina’s wine industry has been synonymous with bold reds, the country’s continued commitment to the production of world-class sparkling wines has resulted in award-winning vintages that are highly sought-after worldwide. It has also helped to reshape the country’s viticultural landscape, having added an ever-expanding layer of sophistication and effervescence to its diverse wine repertoire. The high-altitude regions, particularly in Mendoza, Salta, and the Rio Negro Valley, have proven to be ideal terroirs for cultivating grapes destined for sparkling excellence, as these areas boast a combination of abundant sunshine during the day and cool, crisp nights. At these higher elevations, the environment created is optimal for grape ripening, ensuring a perfect balance of acidity and flavour development.
One of the key varietals that has consistently made waves in Argentina’s sparkling wine genre is Chardonnay, which is often blended with Pinot Noir to create wines that exhibit a refreshing vibrancy and depth. These sparkling gems encapsulate the essence of the country’s unique terroir, offering a delightful alternative to the traditional reds Argentina is known for. In fact, vintners revel in the fact that their effervescent creations are finding a place on tables not just during special occasions but as companions to everyday meals, enhancing the culinary experience with their crisp acidity and lively character. Winemakers in Argentina use various methods of production, including the traditional method (Champenoise) and the tank method (Charmat), techniques which impart their unique characteristics to the wine. This ensures consumers are able to enjoy a diverse array of sparkling vintages, no matter the occasion.
As the countdown to the end of the year begins, Thursday Food shares five of 2023’s best sparkling wines from South America’s leading wine-producing country:
Toso Extra Brut by Pascual Toso is a 100 per cent Chardonnay sparkling wine with a greenish tone contrasting with yellow undertones, along with fine, delicate and persistent bubbles. On the nose, this wine is fruity, fresh and honest, expressing notes of yellow apple and melon. In the mouth it is velvety, creamy and complex, having good freshness and a harmonious finish. This wine scored 86 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2023, earning for itself a bronze medal.
Chandon Argentina NV Extra Brut is a fresh, fruity, elegant, creamy and balanced sparkling wine comprising 60 per cent Chardonnay and 40 per cent Pinot Noir. The wine is pale yellow in colour with green reflections, exhibiting aromas of citrus fruits, clear notes of peach and pineapple, in harmony with those of fresh bread and toast, achieved through contact with the yeasts. On the palate, it has a fresh, fruity and round flavour, representing a great Chandon classic that brings together the maximum expression of a sparkling. The balance and structure in the mouth and the delicate fruity flavour make it perfect to enjoy on any occasion. This 91-point wine copped the top place as Best Argentine Sparkling Wine at the 2023 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, in addition to earning gold and a Best-in-Class designation.
Chandon Argentina NV Rosé, which also won gold at the championship along with a Best-in-Class designation, is a 91-point wine made from 58 per cent Chardonnay, 38 per cent Pinot Noir, 4 per cent Malbec. Chandon Rosé is the perfect balance between freshness and creaminess achieving a pleasant sweet sensation as well as a friendly and jovial palate, accompanied by floral notes and red fruits. The wine expresses a perfect conjunction of aromas of red fruits and toasted bread, achieved thanks to its long rest time in yeast. With its fine bubbles and delicate salmon colour, it has a subtle and elegant finish in the mouth. Chardon Argentina, the first Moet & Chandon subsidiary outside of France, was founded in 1959 by Count Robert-Jean de Vogüé, president of Moët & Chandon. In line with its history as an innovative and avant-garde brand, Chandon Argentina created the Extra Brut category in 1960, today the most consumed product in Argentina, as up until then, only the Brut and Demi Sec varieties existed.
Cruzat Millésime Pinot Noir/Chardonnay 2017 was named sparkling wine of the year by Master of Wine Tim Atkin in his 2023 wine report for Argentina, scoring an impressive 95 points. Made using the traditional method and comprising 85 per cent Pinot Noir and 15 per cent Chardonnay, this wine is pale golden yellow in colour with greenish tones. It has an aroma of black fruits, such as currants, and dried fruits accompanied by lactic sensations. In the mouth it is robust and complex, retaining a freshness that is combined with notes of yeast, bread and white pepper, which together provide magnificent elegance. Its bubble is fine, and its texture creamy, ending in a persistent finish.
Sineres Factory Chardonnay Brut Nature 2018 was the sparkling wine discovery of the year in the 2023 Tim Atkin Report, earning a 94-point score for its vintners whose vineyards are located in Calamuchita, Cordoba, a lesser-known area for viticulture in Argentina. The wine is made from 100 per cent Chardonnay using the traditional Champenoise method and is yellow in colour with golden reflections. On the nose, in its first impressions it gives quince, caramel and stone fruits, but as the sparkling wine separates, notes of toasted bread appear. In the mouth, it is soft and unctuous upon entry with persistent bubbles, having an acidity and ageing on lees that give it flair and elegance.
In the end, enjoying sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve is more than a tradition; it’s an art form, a celebration of life’s effervescent spirit. It’s about turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, transforming a simple beverage into a symbol of joy, connection, and the limitless possibilities that come with a new beginning. So, as the clock resets and the world embraces another year of adventures and challenges, remember to raise a glass, savour the effervescence, and toast to the exhilarating journey that lies ahead. Here’s to the sparkling moments, the effervescent memories, and the unwritten chapters waiting to be filled with joy and celebration. Cheers to the sparkling wine, the unsung hero of every unforgettable New Year’s Eve!