“Of course, I encourage my customers to celebrate the season over glasses of sparkling wine and Champagne,” says Nancy Weber-Curth, owner of Sparkling, a wine bar in Middlebury, Vt. In the run-up to the holidays, she offers a special tasting that focuses on that most festive of sparklers, Champagne. But she also believes sparkling wine can be enjoyed at any occasion all year long.
Weber-Curth opened the wine bar in May 2012 because she loved sparklers, especially Champagne. “Sparkling has a cozy, non-pretentious atmosphere to relax alone or with friends to enjoy a lovely glass of sparkling wine or Champagne,” she says. “No TVs, no live bands, just quiet background music.” The wine bar seats 25, with room for six outdoors.
The sparklers-only list includes approximately 20 bottles priced $21 to $62 and eight Champagnes at $55 to $70 a bottle. Four wines are offered by the glass ($5 to $13) as well as one Champagne ($12 to $15). All glasses (flutes, of course) are poured at the table.
Glass selections change weekly, and new bottles are introduced regularly. When sourcing, Weber-Curth looks beyond the usual suspects of France, Italy and Spain to discoveries from South Africa, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Australia and the U.S.
A recent menu included a few Italian Proseccos and Lambruscos, Cavas from Spain, a Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé and a sparkling Riesling from the Mosel in Germany, as well as entrants from Australia, Portugal, Argentina and South Africa.
One of the most popular bubblies is a sparkling Vouvray from the Loire region of France. Weber-Curth hand-sells this wine with a story about first tasting it as a young summer school student in Amboise, France.
The Champagne side of the menu only features grower Champagnes. These artisan wines are made by the same estate that owns the vineyards, instead of blending grapes at the large Champagne houses as is the practice. Recent offerings include A. Margaine “Cuvée Traditionelle” Brut NV and Gaston-Chiquet “Carte Verte” Brut Tradition NV. “All of the grower Champagnes are quite popular because many Vermonters identify with their own homemade ‘farmer fizz’,” says Weber-Curth, “and the quality of grower Champagne is exceptional.”
For value, Weber-Curth suggests Spanish Cavas or methode champenoise wines from South Africa, Argentina or Austria. These are high-quality alternatives to Champagne that feature more affordable prices.
Sparkling’s customer demographic includes locals, students, professors and tourists. The owner says she is busiest when Middlebury College is in session. Advertising in local media and email blasts clue in customers about monthly tasting events.