T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…N.V. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

I picked up this week’s selection on a whim at my local Safeway store, where it was on sale for $8.99.   It’s been many years since I tried this, but I recall it being one of the few sparkling wines I enjoyed before I generally enjoyed sparkling wine.  In particular, I enjoyed the extra dry version.  I thought it would be interesting to see if my palate has changed after so many years.  I know in some ways it has because I now enjoy Brut sparklers, and there was a time I only enjoyed Extra Dry sparklers.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

Freixenet (pronounced ‘fresh-eh-NET) Cordon Negro is a typical Spanish Cava blend of three white Spanish grape varieties – Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada.  As the #1 imported sparkling wine in the world, this one is widely available anywhere sparkling wine are sold.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

Region: Spain>Catalunya>Cava

Variety -  35% Macabeo, 25% Xarel·lo, 40% Parellada

Dosage – 7 g/L

$9, 11.5% abv

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Very pale straw color. Active carbonation with small bubbles.

Aromas: Austere nose of green apples with faint bread dough note.

Body: Somewhat course texture.  It was light bodied, crisp and dry. Good acidity.  I was disappointed that the  bubbles faded in the glass pretty quickly.  

Taste: Simple citrus (lemon, lime) and green apple flavors. A bit too dry for my tastes in that I didn’t get a lot of fruit.

Finish: Short

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. This one is very light, so I would stick with Mimosas or light fare such as salads, or seafood.

This is definitely a value play.  For $9, I found it to be a solid, good sparkler. But at greater than $10 I’d look elsewhere.  As far as my palate evolving after all these years, I would say “Yes”, but not so much Brut vs. Extra Dry (By the way, not sure about the about which is sweeter “Brut” or “Extra Dry”, etc?,  click here to see descriptions of the sweetness of sparkling), but rather as my knowledge and experience with sparklers has increased, I’ve come to know what to look for, and what makes one sparkler (at least technically speaking) better than another. And for me, once I understand that it may influence how it tastes for me.

In Vino Veritas!

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – Taltarni Brut Taché

This week we tried a Rosé style sparkling wine from Australia made from the three traditional grapes in Champagne, Pinot Noir,Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay…but with twist referred to as Taché.

Taché is a French word meaning ‘stained’ and refers to the rare wine making method used since 1985 at Taltarni to create this delicious sparkling wine. Its pale salmon pink color, and unique taste is achieved by adding a dash of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) liqueur to the finished tirage wine at disgorgement.

Taltarni Brut "Tache" Sparkling Wine

Taltarni Brut Taché

Region: Australia>Victoria (57%)>South Australia (38%)>Tasmania (5%)

Variety -  52% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir, and 7% Pinot Meunier

Dosage – 15mL Cabernet Sauvignon

$16, 13% abv

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Lovely pale salmon color with persistent stream of tiny bubbles.

Aromas: Floral with stone fruit (peaches/apricots),and a faint scone note.

Body: Creamy mousse.  Light to medium bodied.  Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean finish.  

Taste: Watermelon, red berry flavors, and a bit of hazelnut.

Finish: Medium long

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. This one is no exception.  It was enjoyable as an aperitif, but really shined with our meal. We enjoyed it with fried seafood (fish, oysters, shrimp, and scallops), and chips. I think it would also be seriously satisfying with charcuterie, and Chinese food.

We rarely finish a bottle of wine in one night, but we finished this one! And whenever we do, I score the wine at least 90pts.  And that’s what I scored this one.  I think it’s very good value at $16 – it compares very favorably to rosé sparklers at twice the price. To sum it up in three words…will buy more!    I highly recommend. – give it a try!  Click here to find (also available at Whole Foods – for a few more dollars)

Can the antioxidant in red wine protect against radiation?

This image shows a red wine glass.

Image via Wikipedia

According to Louisville Juice:

“A 2008 study from the University of Pittsburgh, indicates that red wine helps neutralize the effects of radiation exposure.

Resveratrol, the natural antioxidant commonly found in red wine and many plants, may offer protection against radiation exposure…When altered with acetyl, resveratrol administered before radiation exposure proved to protect cells from radiation in mouse models.”

Worried about radiation from Japan’s nuclear reactors finding their way to California, and causing cancer down the road?:…have a glass or three of red wine!

In Vino Veritas

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – 2006 Korbel BdN Reserve

This week’s T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like is the 2006 Korbel Blanc de Noirs, Reserve.  It’s an interesting blend of Pinot Noir, which is typical in Champagne, and Sangiovese, which is not.

2006 Korbel Blanc de Noirs

2006 Korbel Blanc de Noirs, Reserve

Appellation: Sonoma County (68% Sangiovese-Dry Creek, 32% Pinot Noir- Russian River Valley)

Dosage .75%

$25, 12% abv

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged 24 months in Stainless Steel

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Light golden yellow color with persistent intermittent bead of tiny bubbles.

Aromas: Citrus, and dried bread notes.

Body: Dry with a good balance of fruit, bracing acidity, and somewhat creamy mousse  that dissipated a bit too quickly.

Taste: Raspberry, red apples, with a touch of spice from the Sangiovese, and hint of citrus.

Finish: Medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food.  It was Friday night, and after a long week, it was left-0vers for dinner. We enjoyed this with both White Chicken Chili, and Panko-Crusted Cod.  It would also play well with shellfish (A crab or shrimp salad comes to mind), sushi, sashimi, or fruit/dried fruit salad such as an Apple & Cranberry Salad.

This was a very pleasant bubbly. I  enjoyed the Sangiovese component.  It’s my first experience with a non-Rosé sparkling wine made entirely from red grapes.  However, I didn’t think it was a good value at $25.

In Vino Veritas

The Evolution Of A Wine Lover…Where are you?

Snooth describes the The 7 Steps to Wine Geekdom as:

  1. Getting hooked – You experience an epiphany wine; Mine was a Lolonis Zinfandel.
  2. Trying everything – What I call the “promiscuous” phase; Feels like I’m still here.
  3. Loving everything – Never met a wine I didn’t like from a varietal point of view, though generally I prefer red, and rosés over whites.
  4. Loving power – Is all the above an option?;-)
  5. Loving complexity – You start to consider New vs. Old World, and according to Snooth, the point of no return!
  6. Loving elegance and finesse – Sounds expensive, but doesn’t have to be. Again…is all the above an option?
  7. Back to your roots – Didn’t realize I had wine “roots”

I was a bit surprised how much my own travels through Winedom mirrored the stages posited by Snooth.  My first wine, typical of most people’s experiences, was a sweet Plum wine from the Japanese Gardens in San Francisco.  In my 20′s it was Blue Nun, and Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers.  I must confess I never had a White Zinfandel phase.

Many years later, I began drinking wine mostly because of the French Paradox, but not long afterward, I had my epiphany wine, a Lolonis Zinfandel. That was back in the first year of the 21st Century.  Thereafter, there seemed to be a period of years where I dabbled in wine.  I can still remember when my entire wine “collection” being less than 10 bottles!

Today, I find myself with a lot more wine, and firmly entrenched in “Trying everything, and “Loving everything” phases!  It’s probably been 4, or 5 years of exploration and discovery, and right now it feels like there’s no end in sight.  I like that.  It seems to suite my personality.  For example, if you were to ask me what my favorite ice cream is, I couldn’t possibly say there was one, or even a handful.  It depends on my mood, and I still enjoy trying different types of ice creams.  It’s the same with wine (and I’ve had much longer to decide on a favorite ice cream). I can’t imagine myself settling down to just a few wines, but then again I couldn’t imagine I’d appreciate, and enjoy some jazz when I was a younger man -  yet I’m kickin” some Boney James as I write this.  So you never know!

There seem to be a lot of similarities between the steps described above, and our maturation as individuals, don’t you think?  Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying the trying, and loving everything  phase I’m in now so much – it’s give me a chance to re-experience that youthful part of my life when I did the same thing, without springing for a sports car!

What about you? Where did you start, and which stage are you in?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

In Vino Veritas!

Other Cool Stuff:

Retro Bartles & Jaymes Commercial (You Tube)


T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – NV Louis de Grenelle Saumur Corail

This week’s T.G.I.F. sparkler is the the Loire Valley in France.   Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines since 1859 in the heart of the Loire Valley.  It is the last independent, and family owned sparkling wine house in Loire.  They make a variety of sparkling wines.  Unlike Champagne, where the primary grapes are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier,  and Chardonnay, the sparkling wines of Loire (also known as Crémant) the primary grapes are Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay.

This sparkler is made from 100% Cabernet Franc, a parent along with Sauvignon Blanc to the ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc. It is a red grape the produces lighter colored wine higher in acid, and slightly lower in tannins than Cab.  Because of the higher acidity it can produce very food friendly wines.

NV Louis de Grenelle Saumur Corail

N.V. Louis de Grenelle Saumur Corail

France/Loire Valley/Anjou-Saumur/Saumur

100% Cabernet Franc

$17, 12% abv

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged 12 months on wooden lats

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Intense salmon color with dispersed bubbles

Aroma: Strawberries, with faint floral notes, and a hint of yeast

Body: Very little sparkle, almost like a soda that has gone a bit flat, with course bubbles.

Taste: Strawberry

Finish: Medium

I was hoping this one was going to the comparable to a 100% Cabernet Franc – based Rose I very much enjoyed last summer.  While I enjoyed the taste of this one, I was disappointed because it just didn’t have much sparkle, and it was a tad too acidic.  Perhaps I had an off bottle, but  I wouldn’t recommend this one.  However,  I’m looking forward to perhaps trying another 100% Cabernet Franc based sparkler. Buy wine here