Father’s Day in my house has always been a time for taking advantage of the one style of wine that is too often forgotten about—or, if not forgotten, then certainly not opened up and enjoyed as often as it should be. I’m thinking here about bubbly, specifically the great bottles from France.
The problem is that, for most consumers, great French sparklers speak mainly of celebrations, of special occasions and fancy meals. Which is one of the many reasons Father’s Day is the perfect time for them: It’s celebratory, yes, but the meal marking the occasion is often a decidedly casual one. And that makes it a fantastic reminder that great French sparkling wines, specifically Champagne and Crémant, are beautifully suited to everything from caviar and lobster to grilled-up hamburgers and hot dogs.
When it comes to Champagne, the most famous houses never let you down: Krug and Salon if your a big spender, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve, and Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut if you’re looking for stellar bottles that won’t set you back too much. You can also spend a bit more and tuck into bottles with some age to them: The Arteis & Co. Brut 1999 and their Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs 2002 are both new to the market and well worth the effort of searching out. Nicolas Feuillatte also offers a great one: The Cuvée Speciale 2000, a spectacular bottle that reminds me of warm pastries and orange marmalade.
There are other French sparkling-wine options that are not from Champagne, and among the best of them is Crémant d’Alsace. These wines tend to be less expensive and boast notably refreshing and ripe fruit flavors alongside their mouthwatering acidity. I’ve recently tasted a number of excellent ones that I strongly recommend, including the Baron de Hoen Brut, Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé, Willm Brut, and Gustave Lorentz Brut Rosé.
Whatever is on the menu this year for Father’s Day, chances are likely that there’s a French sparkler that will work brilliantly with it. And you’ll end up spending a lot less than you probably expect for some of the most versatile, delicious wines in the world.