Champagne for Every Budget

Continued (page 2 of 4)

New World sparklers tend to taste fruitier than those from the Old World. Their quality may not yet match the premium cuvées of Champagne, but the best bottles can easily stand up to the nonvintage Champagnes. In fact, many of the better California sparkling-wine producers are owned by the great Champagne houses: Domaine Chandon (Moët & Chandon, $25), Pacific Echo (Veuve Clicquot, $18), Domaine Carneros (Taittinger, $35), Mumm Cuvée Napa (Mumm, $19), and my personal favorite, Roederer Estate (Roederer, $30). Two other U.S. labels you can trust are Iron Horse Brut from California ($27) and Domaine Sainte-Michelle from Washington ($18).

And finally, Australia's cool-climate regions, the Yarra Valley and Pipers River, make such simple, fresh sparklers as Seaview Brut ($11), Hardy&'s Nottage Hill Chardonnay Brut ($13), and Banrock Station Sparkling Chardonnay ($13).

All this regional variety is great news if you want to choose a sparkling wine in honor of your heritage. You may also want to customize your bottle label—perhaps with your and your groom's names, the date of your wedding, and a note to your guests. Many wineries will do this if you give them at least one month's notice and order more than 25 bottles. Some will even provide half-bottles, which you can leave in the rooms of the wedding party the night before.

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