My wife and I make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis. It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly” It’s a celebration of sort, to the end of the workweek. She get’s to drink, and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it! This week’s sparkling wine is the NV Bouvet Signature Brut
Bouvet-Ladubay history dates back to 1851, when it was founded by Etienne Bouvet. It is the second oldest sparkling wine–producing house in Saumur. By 1890, it had become France’s largest producer of méthode traditionnelle wines. It remains one of France’s greatest producers of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine using the Loire Valley’s indigenous Chenin Blanc blended with small amounts of Chardonnay.
For Bouvet-Ladubay, wine is a living art that must be practiced with wisdom, uniting tradition, experience and the most finely tuned technology in the creation of refined, handcrafted wines of impeccable quality and consistency.
After the untimely deaths of three of the Bouvet heirs in the early 1900s left Bouvet-Ladubay without a guiding hand, the increasingly troubled firm was purchased by Justin Monmousseau and merged with his own still wine–producing firm in 1933. It is currently run by the fourth generation of the Monmousseau family. In July 2006, Bouvet was acquired by Dr. Vijay Mallya of the world’s largest group of alcoholic beverages, the UB Group, based in India.
Bouvet-Ladubay sources its fruit from more than 100 plots in the Loire Valley. It has long-standing relationships with many winegrowers. The limestone subsoil of the Loire Valley is ideal for the cultivation of Chenin Blanc. The mild climate coupled with excellent drainage of the clay creates the natural acidity needed to produce a balanced sparkling white wine. The grapes are pressed in the vineyards and the juice is delivered directly to their cellars. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, then the finest wines from each lot are blended and the cuvée is bottled for the second fermentation. The wine is aged for two years. It is imported by Kobrand Wine & Spirits.
My tasting notes follow:
Pale golden-yellow color with big bubbles and low-key yeast and green apple aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and straight forward with moderately creamy mousse and melon, green apple mineral flavors. Short finish – 85pts
Rating:B - This is a good bottle of bubble, and a nice alternative to Champagne. This bottle was gift. It retails for $16 ($12 ClubBev) at BevMo. But I can think of a few bottles of bubbly I enjoy more for less…
Pair with: This one is an excellent aperitif. Pair with fried snacks like seasoned popcorn, potato chips, or french fries. Also pair with golden king crab, shrimp and lobster dipped in drawn butter!
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Over the past couple of years I’ve made it a point to blog about sparkling wines. For a time I blogged about a different sparkling wine on a weekly basis (At one point I tried 30 different sparkling wines over a 30 week period!). Though I’ve gotten away from it in recent months, it’s not because I stopped drinking sparkling wines (I still drink bubbly pretty much on a weekly basis; I don’t wait for a special occasion and neither should you!), rather it’s because after a year and a half of trying more than my fair share of sparkling wines from around the world, I’ve found many I enjoy that have become repeat purchases.
While I love Champagne, it’s more expensive (entry-level examples start at around $30) than its sparkling wine brethren (I did find one for under $19.99, but didn’t care for it enough to purchase it again). There are just too many other sparkling wines i enjoy more (especially since I’m footing the bill;-)…
Please allow me a moment on the Sparkling Wine soapbox..
Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne, the real stuff only comes from the Champagne region of France
Sparking wines are great wines – drink as you would other wines (i.e. don’t limit your consumption to special occasions), including trying different styles (White, Rosé, Red, Blanc-de-blancs, Blanc-de-noirs, Brut, Extra-Dry, etc.)
Sparkling wines are under-appreciated food friendly wines – If I’m not sure about a food a wine pairing, you can bet I’ll reach for a bottle of bubbly! Besides being the only wine that’s socially acceptable to have with any meal, sparkling wine is one of the few wines that can take you from appetizers to dessert!
Ok…now that that’s off my chest…
Image couresy of Grape Sense – Glass Half Full
Your best bets for finding quality for the price sparkling wines under $20 are to:
Here in the U.S. – look for sales on most major California labels, Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm, and Roederer are in wide distribution and frequently significantly discounted. At leastone of those brands is on sale at my local grocery store every week for less than $20 ( and often less than $15…)
If you prefer sparkling wine with as Champagne-like character, look for Cava from Spain, or Crémant from France (Crémant de Bourgogne, Limoux, Alsace, and Loire). They’re produced using the same method as Champagne, so you’ll get a more yeasty character,and save some coin.
If you prefer sparkling wine with fruitier aromas and flavors, and you’re not hung up on the method of production, look for Prosecco from Italy.
Sparkling wine is made the world over, so you can find good value in sparkling wines from South Africa, Australia and even South America.
Here are my Top 20 sparkling wines under $20 (click on the bold italicized links for my more detailed blog posts from my T.G.I.F. series of weekly sparkling wine tastings) It’s a diverse list geographically, and stylistically. There is with bubbly from Argentina, Australia, California, Spain, Italy, and South Africa. And there is Brut, Rose, Blanc de Noir, and even a dessert sparkling wine. Many can be found at grocery stores, or large beverage retailers like BevMo, and Costco. Others may be more challenging to find, but are definitely worth seeking out.
Taltarni Brut Tache - (Australia) Lovely pale salmon color with floral, stone fruit (peaches/apricots), and fresh-baked scone aromas. On the palate, approaching medium-bodied, with a creamy mousse with watermelon, red berry, and a bit of hazelnut flavors. Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean medium long finish. >>Find this wine<<
Schramsberg Mirabelle North Coast Brut Rosé - (California) Delicate pink color with strawberry and bread dough aromas. On the palate, moderately creamy mousse, good acidity, focused, fruity, yet dry, and lively, with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
2009 Raventos i Blanc L’Heure Blanc Brut Reserva - (Spain) Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, white flower, yeast, apple aromas. On the palate, a wonderful creamy mousse uncommon at this price point, dry, and approaching medium-bodied with apple, and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish >>Find this wine<<
Törley Doux Tokaji - (Hungary) The only dessert bubbly in the bunch – Pale straw yellow color with lots of pin prick sized bubbles and brioche, apricot, mineral and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it shows a creamy mousse, and is sweet but nicely balanced very good acidity with apricot, peach, and vanilla flavors. Made from Furmint grapes. 11% alcohol >>Find this wine<<
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley - (California) - Light golden straw color with plentiful, persistent stream of tiny bubbles, and sweet yeast, fresh-cut green apples aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with soft texture, zippy acidity, between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla flavors.
El Xamfra Cava Mercat Brut Nature - (Spain) - Pale straw yellow color with lot of bubbles, and floral, stone fruit, citrus and slight sweet yeast aromas. On the palate, it has a surprisingly explosive mousse, and approached medium-bodied with stone fruit, citrus, and toasted nut flavors. Medium finish. 11.5% alcohol. Zero dosage. A great value! >>Find this wine<<
Mumm Napa Brut Prestige - (California) - Light golden tinged straw color with biscuit, sweet citrus, red fruit and subtle floral aromas. In the glass it displays lots of tiny bubbles. On the palate it is medium-bodied with fairly creamy mousse and cherry, vanilla, and citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
Graham Beck Brut Rosé- (South Africa) Watermelon pink color with a hint of silver with aromas of yeast, and raspberries. On the palate, a creamy mousse, fruity, yet dry, with crisp acidity and raspberries, cherries flavors, with a slight mineral overtone, and a hint of citrus on the back palate. Short-medium finish. Great QPR! >>Find this wine<<
La Marca Prosecco - (Italy)Very pale straw yellow color with white flowers, stone fruit, and a whiff of tangerine aromas. It shows an active stream of tiny bubbles. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and fresh with a creamy mousse and peach, and tangerine flavors. Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut - (France) Pale yellow color with a bit of bronze tinge and brioche pear, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate it was light-bodied,and between dry, and off-dry with good acidity, and a prickly mousse with pear, raspberry, and mineral flavors. A Blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. >>Find this wine<<
Scharffenberger Brut Excellence - (California) Pale yellow-bold color with tiny bead of bubbles that dissipated somewhat quickly, and bread dough, faint apple aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied, with a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet fruity sweet apple, and lemon-lime flavors.>>Find this wine<<
Gruet Blanc de Noirs- (New Mexico) Salmon color with an abundance of dispersed tiny bubbles with brioche and apple aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with a moderately aggressive mousse, balanced with pear, sweet baking spice, vanilla, and nuanced citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut - (California) – Very light straw color with persistent bead of smallish bubbles, and fresh bread, apple, citrus,and a bit of ginger aromas. On the palate, it shows a moderately creamy mousse, with apple, pear, and citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
Reginato “Celestina” Rosé of Malbec - (Argentina) - Intense strawberry red color with intermittent stream of tiny bubbles with baked bread and ripe cherry aromas. On the palate, fruity, yet pleasingly more dry, than off-dry with an explosive, creamy mousse, and with delicate almost imperceptible tannins, with flavors of cherries, raspberries, and a hint of spice. >>Find this wine<<
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva - (Spain) Light straw color with fine bead of bubbles with bread dough and lemon-lime citrus aromas. On the palate, light bodied, with moderately creamy mousse with green apple, and tart citrus flavors. Short finish. This one is “everyday” sparkler for me. It’s a great value at $9/bottle! >>Find this wine<<
Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut (France) Very pale straw yellow color with toasty pear, citrus and hint of spice aromas and tiny bubbles. On the palate it’s fresh and fruity with pear, fuji apple, a vanilla, and sweet baking spice flavors. Wonderful QPR @$10! Available at Trader Joe’s
Korbel Natural- (California) Pale golden-yellow color with yeast ,red fruit, and apple aromas. On the palate light bodied, crisp, between dry and off-dry. Straight-forward with cherry, apple, minerals, and a touch of honey flavors. Short-medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
What are your favorite sparkling wines under $20? I’d love to give them a try!
This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about soul warming foods. You know, those soups, chili, stews, and other soul warming treat we seek when the weather turns cold.
When I first saw the theme, my first thought was of “Soul Food”. I’d bet that “Soul food” is one of those phrases that if you ask 10 people what it means, you’d get 10 different answers! Soul Warming foods and Soul food are one in the same to me, and when I think of Soul food, the first dish that comes to mind is Gumbo! We have a tradition in our family of making Gumbo each New Year’s day, but it’s a soul-satisfying meal whenever there’s a chill in the air.
Since I’m a Wino with latent foodie tendencies, I decided let my foodie nature rise up, and do a dish, and wine pairings this week!
Here’s my Seafood Gumbo (we …OK make that “I”, call it “Yumbo” – lame right?..but I like it!)
For me, there are two things you’ve got to get right to make a gumbo – the “roux” (I prefer mine to be dark brownish), and you must have stock that is chock full of flavors. Sure you could take a short-cut, and go with store-bought (I’ve done that for a ” quick and dirty” version of this dish, but the flavors are not as complex and intense for me. If you get those couple of things “right”, it’s clear sailing thereafter!
Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper
Author: Martin D. Redmond
Recipe type: Stew
Adapted from Emeril’s Classic Seafood Gumbo recipe
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups finely chopped onions
¾ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
¾ cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
6 cups Shrimp and Crab Stock
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 small Dungeness crabs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon Emeril’s Original Essence
2 cups shucked oysters with their liquor
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped tender green onion tops
Follow directions for cleaning and prepping crab to be cooked (click here, except remove crab legs and claws. Follow directions for Shrimp and Crab stock, except add crab shell and crab butter (roe) along with shrimp.
Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the pot. Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Continue to stir the roux for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Shrimp and Crab Stock to the pot. Season the gumbo with the thyme, bay leaves, crabs legs, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.
Season both the shrimp with 1½ teaspoons Essence. Stir the shrimp into the gumbo and cook for 2 minutes. Add the oysters to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.
Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
Recommended Wine Pairings – I paired this with the Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It would also pair well with Viognier, a dry Rosé, or White Zinfandel. If you elect to go with a less spicy version try a Pinot Noir!
Take a look at the culinary cornucopia the #SundaySupper team has put together for this week’s gathering around the #SundaySupper table! My recommended wine pairings (click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase) are italicized.
Pair these main dishes with Pinot Noir. Look for the 2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir. It’s a silky smooth Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with a core of raspberry and spice aromas and flavors, with caramel edge. Why it works: Pinot goes with just about everything. It’s a white wine, in red wine clothing, which makes it incredibly flexible with dishes and methods of prep. Pinot is sublime with poultry, and complements foods that are slow roasted, or braised.
I recommend a Chardonnay for these dishes. Look for the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. It’s a medium-full bodied Chardonnay that’s undergone malolactic fermentation, that’s moderately oaked. The oak aging brings vanilla and caramel notes to the party to go along with its ripe apple, tropical fruit and lemon cream character. Why it works: The texture, and weight of wine complement the dish, and it has enough acidity to “cut” the dish a bit and prepare the palate for the next mouthwatering bite.
Pair this dish with a Tempranillo from Rioja Spain. I really like the 2007 Viña Eguia Reserva. It’s shows great balance between oak and fruit with a cherry, dried herb, spice, leather and vanilla character. Why it works: Tempranillo is an underrated food pairing partner. It’s tends to be a light-medium bodied earthy red wine. It’s between a Pinot Noir and Cab. It’s fruity with moderate tannins, and acidity making it a good fit for somewhat spicy fare like Spanish, Mexican and similarly spiced fare.
Pair this classic Italian dish with Sangiovese. Try the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, plus a couple of other indigenous Italian grape varieties from Tuscany It shows juicy red and black berries, with some licorice and spice notes supported by soft dusty tannins. Why it works: The food of a place and the wine of a place is always a good place to start when pairing wine and food. On top of that, its high acidity, together with its medium-bodied character enable it to stand up to more substantial dishes. Sangiovese is a wine that loves dished prepared with fresh herbs, rich thick soups, mushrooms and tomato based dishes
Pair this dish with an Edelzwicker, a blend of the “noble” Alsatian varietals of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Look for the 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker. It’s an aromatic white wine with a stone fruit, spice, and hint of citrus character. Why it works: The spicy character of the wine, along with some sweetness (spicy likes sweet) and acidity make a great match!
Pair these hearty dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my favorites is the 2010 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon “H3″ It’s from Washington State, and is a bold wine that delivers delightful floral, dark fruit, cocoa aromas followed by plum, black cherry, vanilla and cocoa flavors. Why it works: Cab works well with red meats, dishes with earthy, herbal elements. This youthful wine has plenty of fruit which make it a nice complement to longer cooked meats and stews.
Try these dishes these with a Cru Beaujolais (not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau hitting the store shelfs soon), a wine from France made from the Gamay grape. Look for the 2010 Georges Debœuf Moulin-à-Ventwith a wild red fruits, and white pepper character that a juicy easy drinker. Why it works: Like Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is naturally high in acidity, and is light-medium bodied with low tannins. It pair well with dishes with veggies,earthy flavors. Great picnic wine too! Er..but I digress;-)
Syrah is a good match for these hearty flavorful dishes. I like the 2009 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz from Australia. It’s has a fruity core of black cherries, plums, baking spices, and vanilla that balanced by some oak. Why it works: Syrah is an ample full-bodied wine that likes thicker, fuller dishes like slow braises, stews (especially tomato-based), and one-dish meals.
Pair these soul-warming soups with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pouilly-Fumé region of the Loire Valley in France. Look for the 2011 Patient Cottat “Le Grand Caillou” Sauvignon Blanc. It has a lovely tropical fruit, citrus, spice and mineral character with a tangy acidity. Why it works: Sauvignon Blanc with its “green” (gooseberries, lime, green olive, papaya character and a mineral component attributable to the terroir of the Loire Valley make this a good match for vegetarian soups, spicy (hot) fare, dishes with acidic ingredients. It’s a very versatile food pairing partner in that it work nicely as a complement or a contrast.
Pair these satisfying soups with Pinot Gris. I recommend the 2011 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection from Oregon. It has juicy lemon-lime, stone-fruit, green apple, pineapple and spice character. Why it works: Pinot Gris likes ethic foods, especially coconut-milk based curries.
Pair this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake (That Skinny Chick Can Bake)with the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel “Port”, a dessert wine made for chocolate! I like the what the Wine Enthusiast says about it…”The first duty of a Port-style wine is to be dazzlingly rich and sweet yet balanced in acidity, and this bottling is all that. Waves of blackberry jam, cassis and dark chocolate are brightened with zesty acidity…
Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. And join us at 7pm EST, for our live weekly #SundaySupper chat. All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.
And be sure to check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board. We’d love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes and share them with all of our followers.
This week’s bubbly is a Champagne produced by Champagne Charles de Cazanove. It’s a brand with which I was not familiar. They have a rich history. The house was founded in 1811 by Charles Gabriel de Cazanove. However it was his son Charles Nicolas de Cazanove that contributed most to the growth of the brand. They are the #2 selling brand in France behind Nicolas Feuillate. They offer a full range of Champagne. This bottling is one of five in their entry-level “Tradition Père & Fil” range. This bottling is labeled “Premier Cru”, which is the second tier of Champagne classifications behind Grand Cru. The classification system in Champagne is based on the what village the vineyards are located in, rather than the vineyard itself, or the estate as in Burgundy, and Bordeaux respectively. You won’t find much Champagne classified as “Premier Cru” for $35, as such it represents good value price-wise.
Golden yellow color with persistent bead of pin prick bubbles, and fresh bread dough, floral, and fruity aromas. On the palate, it has a soft mousse, is light-bodied with apple, fresh apricot and mineral flavors. Medium finish Pinot Noir (50%), and Chardonnay (50%) - 87pts
Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would make an excellent aperitif, but would also be a good match with lighter foods like seafood, or pasta or risotto dishes, especially those creamy sauces rather than tomato sauce.
I really enjoyed this, but at $35, it won’t be a repeat purchase for me. (Click here to find this wine)
Have you ever wondered what’s the best-selling brand of Champagne in France? Sure, all the big names in Champagne are there, but I’m thinking the average middle-class French consumer doesn’t have the coin for Moet and Mumm on a regular basis. The answer is the maker of this week’s bubbly, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. Feuillatte hit my radar on the on the strength of favorable staff reviews at my favorite wine retailer K&L Wines Merchants.
Last year Feuillatte celebrated their 35th anniversary. That makes them a baby when compared to brands such Moet & Chandon,or Veuve Clicquot, which are 200+ years old. Not only is Feuillatte the best selling brand of Champagne in France, it is also the number three brand in world-wide sales behind Moet and Veuve Clicquot.
Surely some of their meteoric rise is due to savvy marketing, like their “One Fo(u)r Fun” mini bottles of Champagne with a wrist strap, or their iPhone App with a virtual toast where the user can pop a bottle of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and pour it in to a friend’s virtual flute, but make no mistake, they source high-quality fruit for their Champagne. Additionally, Feuillatte has been making quarter bottles of Champagne since 1990, and today is the market leader in the segment.
This week’s Champagne a.k.a. Brut Resèrve Particulière is their entry level offering. In addition to this Champagne they offer six other in the “Essentials” line, four “Gourmet” Champagnes, and the aforementioned One Fo(u)r Fun mini bottles.
Pale gold color with brioche, spice, and dried fruit aromas. On the palate it is creamy, and light-medium bodied with apple, and pear flavors with a hint of honey. Medium finish
Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This was very nice as an aperitif, and just as nice with food. Pair with fish tacos, light pasta dishes, or just for fun popcorn!
This is a very good sparkler. I prefer it to the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot and it cost $20 less! I recommend! 89pts (Click here to find this wine)
I like participating in virtual tastings such as Languedoc Day for a few reasons. It gives me a chance to see what wines other wine lovers are drinking and enjoying. I look forward to learning something about either the varietal, or the region being showcased. And it’s also a chance to virtually meet others on Twitter, G+, or FB, who share my passion for wine.
The Languedoc (pronounced “long-dock”) is a wine region in southern France. It is the world’s largest wine-producing region, producing a diverse selection of red, white, rosé, sweet or sparkling wines. According to Wikipedia…”As recently as 2001, the region produced more wine than the entire United States“. The 5 best known appellations in the Languedoc include Coteaux du Languedoc, Corbières AOC, Faugères, Minervois AOC, and Saint-Chinian AOCs.
It’s only relatively recently the Languedoc has been widely recognized by critics and experts as worthy of attention, awards and accolades. Prior to the last couple of decades, it was mostly known for producing low-quality jug wines.
I’ve enjoyed a few wines from the Languedoc. Two sparklers – the NV Domaine Jean-Louis Denois Tradition Brut from the Coteaux de Languedoc AOC, and the 2008 Antech Cuvee Eugenie from the Crémant de Limoux AOC that were both very good sparklers, at a very attractive price, that I’d buy again - and a wonderful sweet vins doux naturels fortified wine made from Grenache. But, I’ve not had a red wine from the region, so I was looking forward to #LanguedocDay to try a red.
My wine of choice for the day? The 2006 Les Clos Perdus “Mire la Mer” (In View of The Sea). The wine is produced by a small winery located the village of Peyriac de Mer. The biodynamically farmed fruit is from the Corbières AOC. According to Los Clos Perdus…
This wine comes from old bush vines naturally grown and hand-picked. The wild yeast ferment is followed by gentle basket pressing, allowing the wine to develop with minimal intervention, giving an honest expression of the soil and the year in which it was grown
It’s a blend of 55% Mourvédre, 35% Carignan, planted in 1905, and 10% Grenache. The name Los Clos Perdus means Lost Vineyards.
2006 Les Clos Perdus Corbières Mire La Mer - Photo courtesy of Les Clos Perdus
My tasting notes are below:
Deep nearly opaque violet color with dark fruit, and herbal aromas. On the palate, balanced, medium-bodied with fine grained well integrated tannins, good acidity, and bright, persistent black currant, dark raspberry, mineral and spice flavors. Medium finish. – 89pts
This is definitely a food wine. Try it with your hearty fall dishes. It’s a steal for $20. Will buy more!
This week’s sparkler is from Alsace region of France. Alsace is located on France’s eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. The region definitely has Germanic influences. It is most well-known for it still white wines including Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc. This sparkler is 100% Pinot Noir which represents about 10% of the regions plantings.
When one thinks of French sparkling wines, of course Champagne is top of mind , but sparkling wine is made in many regions of France, including Alsace, using the same techniques deployed in Champagne. When it’s not specifically made in the Champagne region, it’s referred to as Crémant.
The Crémant d’Alsace AOC was established in 1976. Crémant d’Alsace is the market leader in at-home sales for sparkling wines in France. The vast majority of the wines are exported to Belgium and Germany.
This wine is first vinified as a dry Rosé, and then undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. According to the Baur website…“Armand Baur makes one batch a year so this is effectively a vintage sparkling wine, though it is not noted on the label, as vintage sparkling wines are required to age in the cellars for at least 3 yrs before release“. This wine was aged for 2 yrs, thus the non-vintage (“NV”) designation.
Appearance: Pretty light salmon color with small dispersed bubbles
Aromas: Brioche, and sweet red fruit of strawberries and raspberries
Body: On the palate a somewhat creamy mousse, between light and medium bodied, dry with zippy acidity.
Taste: Strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and a hint of citrus rind, and mineral flavors
Finish: Short-medium finish
Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods. This one would be a good aperitif, and also pair with nicely with a variety of foods. I enjoyed it with a Filipino dish, Chicken Afritada, a tomato-based stew introduced to the Philippines by Spaniards.
This is an elegant, very nice Rosé sparkler. It’s a very good value for under $20. I recommend!
This week’s sparkler hails from Burgundy region of France. It is produced by Blason de Bourgogne. I picked it up at Trader Joe’s on a whim because I recognized the Blason name. It’s a name I associate with value wines. According to the Blason website they represent 800 wine-growing families throughout Burgundy. Beside this Blanc de Noirs, they also produce a Rosé, an Extra Brut, and a Brut Reserve, all from Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes. Of the four Crémant produced, this one is aged the longest. And interestingly, all are made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes.
Aromas: Brioche, and red fruits – cherries and strawberries
Body: Light-bodied with dispersed small bubbles that dissipated quickly
Taste: Strawberry, cherry and toast
Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods. This one would be a good aperitif, and also pair with nicely with wide variety of foods. Try this with roast white meat, seafood with light sauces, or enjoy as an aperitif along with goat cheese.
This is a value sparkler. It was easy, enjoyable, and since it’s sold at Trader Joe’s, availability should be good. I’m a fan of Blanc de Noirs (“BdN”), and you’d be hard pressed to find a better BdN at this price level. This is a case where $2-$3 more dollars (Chandon, and Gloria Ferrer come to mind) would probably deliver more. But, I recommend if you prefer BdN and you want to save a few bucks. (86 pts).
“May your glass always be filled with warm memories, and the taste of a life well lived linger on your tongue” - Unknown
I’ve been drinking sparkling wine on a weekly basis since February, and blogging about it in my “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…” series. During that time, I’ve tasted sparkling wines from not only the usual suspects, France, California, Spain, and Italy, but also countries that aren’t “top of mind” when it comes to bubbly like Argentina, Austria, Australia, Portugal, and South Africa. I’ve had more bubbly since February than I’ve had the last 10 years!
I’ve learned a handful of things about sparkling wine as I’ve worked on perfecting my palate for bubbly. What do I mean by perfecting my palate? It has nothing to do with developing greater tasting acuity. Rather, it’s about “living” with a particular wine, learning everything you can about it, and buying as much of that wine as you can. It’s been an immensely pleasurable pursuit, which has turned me into a bubbles fiend! Here’s what I’ve learned…
Sparklers are wines with bubbles
Duh! Here’s what I mean. Like still wines, sparkling wines are made from a variety of grapes. They are easy, complex, and everything in between. They are light, medium, or full-bodied. They can be bone dry, or sweet. They are made in white, pink (Rosé), and red styles. Some are made to drink now, others can be aged for many years. And most importantly, just like still wine, sparkling wine is an every day wine. It’s so much more than a beverage for celebration. Yet, those bubbles seem to add a dash of magic to any occasion. I can’t resist sharing this quote that sums it up for me…
When Lily Bollinger was asked “When do you drink champagne?”, she replied: “I only drink champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am.Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”
It’s great with a wide variety of foods
On a recent Saturday night at Chez Redmond, we had a diverse assortment of leftovers for dinner, including, steak, chile rellano, salad topped with tomato, and avocado salsa, and chicken apple sausage. We enjoyed this diverse range of food with a sparkling Rosé that paired nicely with the leftovers. Put simply, sparkling wines are food wines. Of course, like still wines, I recommend pairing light-bodied sparklers (most Cavas, Prosecco, and other light-bodied sparklers) with lighter fare. At the other end of the spectrum, I’d pair a steak with a fuller-bodied sparkler, especially a Rosé.
You don’t have to spend a bunch to drink it all the time
The average price of the sparklers I’ve tasted over the last 30 weeks was $17. The most expensive was $33. I’ve discovered an everyday Cava that’s less than $10 that has a good quality-price ratio. And, many good sparklers can be found for under $20 (Look for my Top 10 Sparklers Under $20…Coming soon!) At the same time, I’ve come to realize that I’m willing to spend more for sparklers that I enjoy. Like most folks, I used to think sparklers were limited to being consumed as apéritifs, or for celebrations. Consequently, I wouldn’t spend as much for “better” sparklers. Yet, I’d spend $30-$50 for a “better” bottle of still wine. Ironically, now that I’ve come to realize sparklers can be consumed throughout a meal, I’m willing to pay more for the pleasure.
It’s a deathbed wine for me
Yep…if I had a choice, I’d have a great Rosé Champagne (at least for the first couple of courses) to celebrate going to my Sweet Reward.
Cava – It’s not just for Mimosas anymore
I’m really digging Cava, at least Reserva level Cava. It hasn’t always been that way. I pretty much limited my consumption of Cava to using it for Mimosas. That was before I discovered a couple of Raventós i Blanc Cavas, one a traditional white, the other their outstanding Rosé. I’m sure there are others awaiting my discovery.
Here’s my hearty recommendation friends. Go out and buy a bottle of bubbly today, whether it be Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava, or Prosecco. Enjoy it as more than an apéritif. Wait a day, or a week, or maybe two. Repeat indefinitely!
“May your glass always be filled with warm memories, and the taste of a life well lived linger on your tongue” – Unknown
In the world of dessert wines (a.k.a. “stickies”) Ports from Portugal, and Sauternes from Bordeaux rule. When I saw that my favorite wine shop, K&L Wine Merchants, was doing a tasting called “Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World“, I was eager to see what other regions of the world have to offer. Not only was the wine geek in me curious, it’s also been my experience that lesser known wine regions often offer outstanding Quality-Price Ratio (“QPR”) wines.
The tasting was not only geographically diverse (Austria, Hungary, Canada, Greece, and lesser known regions of France – Loire, Languedoc, and Alsace), it also offered a variety of both late harvest, and fortified stickies made from both white and red grapes. There was also a variety of treats to pair with the wines including various cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and chocolates from The Chocolate Garage.
Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World - The Lineup
Light yellow with gold tinged color with pear, brown sugar, and faint floral aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with very good acidity, and nectarine, spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts).
This is a fortified vin doux Muscat. Yellow gold color with peach liqueur, apricot, and spice aromas. On the palate medium light bodied with honeyed citrus, spiced apricot jam flavors. Medium-long finish. (88 pts).
Minimally botrytised Chenin Blanc. Light yellow gold color with muted candied apple,and almond aromas. On the palate medium bodied with tropical, apple, and pear flavors with a hint of nutty savoriness. Long finish (90 pts).
Sélection de Grains Nobles (“SGN”) are botrytised wines from Alsace, France. Light yellow color with nutty, peach, mineral aromas. On the palate medium bodied, well balanced with very good acidity and peach, spice, and slight mineral flavors. Long finish. (91 pts).
Botrytised Furmint Blend. Golden yellow color with vivid aromas of apricot and orange peel. On the palate viscous, balanced with harmonious streak of acidity, and intense apricot and orange flavors with a hint of minerality. Long finish. (94 pts).
This is a Vins doux naturels fortified wine from the south of France made from Grenache grapes ; very dark garnet almost inky color with aromas of cherry liquer, sweet tobacco,spice and floral notes. On the palate red fruit, and spice with good acidity and a touch of fine grained tannins. Medium long finish. (89 pts).
After taking care of business tasting this group of outstanding dessert wines, it was time to enjoy a few different food pairings. Hands down my favorite pairing was the Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and Pralus Madagascar 75% Dark Chocolate. It was simply a sublime pairing! I also enjoyed the classic Roquefort cheese and Tokaji pairing, though I must confess I’ve never had cheese for my dessert course.
I always look forward to furthering my wine education, and this was a very good opportunity. I tasted Tokaji for the first time, which I’ve been eager to do, and I now have a better understanding of which types of dessert wines to pair with which types of desserts, and which might be better on a stand-alone basis for dessert. All in all, a sweet start to the weekend!