Hot off the Shelf: Springtime Sparklers Pop with Surprises

Wine pros make their top picks for bubbles—sabering is optional, but recommended

Sure, spring is a good time to get back into bubbles. But if you’re like me, and are addicted to the sound of a Champagne cork popping, spring is just another excuse to stock up on bubbly for any occasion—my favorite is sneaking in a flask of good Cava to the movie theater. The sparkling wine paired with buttered popcorn gives me sensory overload, and I have this almost post-yoga high or glow or whatever it is.

This month, we asked wine pros to pick their favorite springtime sparklers, and they came back to us with distinct, small-production offerings—so drop by their shops and ask them about that “electrically bright and racy” sparkler from the Loire here on Hot off the Shelf.

John Purroy Jackson, wine buyer, Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice


John’s pick (left): NV Domaine Robert Serol Cote Roannaise Turbullent Rose, Loire, France ($19)

The grape: 100 percent Gamay

The Story: “Second generation owner/winemaker Stephane Serol is trying to prove that the traditional methods of his father still matter in today’s wine industry—that is, being respectful of the environment and the property he’s inherited in the small, relatively unknown Côte Roannaise AOC in the southern Loire Valley.”

Tastes Like: “Electrically bright and racy, with laser-focused strawberry and raspberry and a beautifully fizzy core of minerals and just ripe cherries. This method ancestrale has that deliciously funky fizz that all you Pet-Nat junkies are craving, with enough silky polish to please newcomers to this traditional style.”

John’s pick (right): NV Jacky Blot Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Montlouis “Triple Zero” Rosé, Loire, France ($24)

The story: “Originally a Loire Valley wine broker, Jacky bought his famous properties in Montlouis from families that could no longer carry on the tradition. His wines prove that their trust was not in vain.”

Tastes like: “How can a wine have this delicate honeyed pear and still be bone dry? Triple Zero manages with a plush, complex mouthfeel, and yet surprises with a bright shot of citrus that livens up the entire experience.”

John is at the store more often than not, dragging customers through the maze of boxes in search for a wine their friends will find astonishing, or waving his hands around while telling stories of Templars, kings, and how it—no, really—ties into wine.

redarrow Lincoln Fine Wines, 727 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, 310-392-7816

Lou Amdur, owner, Lou Wine Shop & Tastings in Los Feliz 


Lou’s pick (left): Punta Crena Lumassina Colline Savonesi ($16)

The grape: 100 percent Lumassina, “an obstinate old grape variety indigenous to Liguria”

The story: “The Ruffino family has been farming in Liguria since the early 15th century, and they take their viticultural patrimony seriously. Their dedication to Lumassina is a case in point. It’s a bitch to grow, and today mostly forsaken for more profitable and better-yielding grape varieties, but here’s this simple, fresh sparkling wine made from it, underscoring that sometimes the old ways are good ways.”

Tastes like: “What Mike’s Hard Lemonade would taste like, if it were made by humans rather than soulless robots, in lots of just a few hundred cases a year, and if Mike had taken sufficient hallucinogens in high school and hadn’t turned into such a douche as an adult. No sugar, but plenty of zip, shebam, wizz! This isn’t about the autolytic complexities of Champagne, as it sees just a few months on the lees—instead, it’s all about the primacy of lemony fruit, and what you want when confronted with a plate of fried calamari.”

Lou’s pick (right): Champagne Ruppert-Leroy Cuvée Martin Fontaine Brut Nature NV ($80)

The grape: 100 percent Chardonnay, “organically grown by former sheep farmers on clay and fossil-rich limestone.”

The story: “Only the second vintage from this pocket-sized family farm in Champagne’s Aube region, and Bénédicte Leroy is already growing and making exciting wines of superb precision.”

Tastes like: “Full-bore Blanc de Blanc, dry but not austere, citron, pithy white grapefruit. Chewy, cuts right through your mental fog. You can see clearly now, the rain is gone.”

Lou is generally in weeknights or talking about Chenin Blanc to hordes of eager enthusiasts, but is happy to stop talking about Chenin and tell you a few bad puns before helping you select a wine that will blow your mind.

redarrow Lou Wine Shop & Tastings, 1911 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, 323-305-7004

Jordane Andrieu, owner, Héritage Fine Wines in Beverly Hills


Jordane’s pick (left): Jean Charles Boisset Cremant de Bourgogne No. 69 Brut Rose ($24)

The grapes: 100 percent Pinot Noir

The story: “Jean-Charles Boisset is my French-connection friend. Born in Vougeot (heart of the best Pinot Noir region), he is the type of person you remember from the first time you meet him. He is an ambitious young guy who likes to have fun with everything he undertakes. He owns one of the most beautiful vineyards in Burgundy called Domaine de la Vougeraie—a model vineyard of biodynamic practices.”

Tastes like: “The Crémant is a Rosé Brut based exclusively on Pinot Noir with a delicate rose-petal color just like I love. The mouth is super refreshing, crispy, and not too bubbly. Hot sunny L.A. will appear much more ‘livable’ around the pool with the 69.”

Jordane’s pick (right): Champagne Taittinger NV Prelude Grands Crus Brut, Champagne, France ($89.99)

The grapes: 50 percent Chardonnay, 50 percent Pinot Noir

The story: “Taittinger has a long family story that goes back to the beginning of the 18th century. My friends, Vitalie and Clovis Taittinger, represent a new dynamic generation, and are doing an amazing job at maintaining the values and traditions of their world-renowned Champagne house.”

Tastes like: “Prélude Grands Crus Cuvée is composed exclusively from the top Grands Crus vineyards. I love this Champagne for its so delicate bubbles. The palate is fine, refreshing citrus, and white peach notes, complex minerality with elderflowers and spicy cinnamon aromas and a rich finish.”

Jordane is nearly always in the shop, going on and on about all of his “friends”—the winemakers and producers of nearly every bottle on his shelves.