Five Most Food Friendly Wines For #SundaySupper

When I saw the theme for this week’s #SundaySupper - Dishes in 5 Ingredients or Less – my first thought was “Wow, that’s going to be a challenge”,  because I’ve seen the creativity and passion my  BFFs (Best Foodie Friends;-) bring to the #SundaySupper table. Then I thought, why not try to pair the undoubtedly diverse menu with only 5 five wines?  As I’m sure it was a challenge to use only 5 ingredients and still get great flavor, it’s challenge for me to limit myself to a list of the 5 most food friendly wines. Ah, but in challenge lies opportunity!

As I contemplated the five most food friendly wines, I kept coming back to wines that are flexible in structure and in style. By structure, I mean all the wines have a great backbone of acidity, a core of succulent fruit, lower alcohol, and modest or no tannins.  What I mean by style is that the grape produces wines in a wide range of styles from light to full-bodied.  That diversity of style makes these wines versatile pairing partners with a broad range of foods.

Sparkling Wines

Champagne and other sparkling wines like Cava, and Prosecco have an incredible affinity for a wide range of foods.  Aside from the aforementioned high acidity and lower alcohol, there’s the bubbly effervescence!  I always have a chilled bottle of bubbly on hand!  Unfortunately, most folks only drink bubbly when it’s a special occasion or as a cocktail without food.  But now you know better. Right?!

Sparkling wines work especially well:

  • To accompany raw fish (sushi, sashimi, oysters, etc.),
  • Tart foods: citrus, vinegars, pomegranate, dill, capers, and tomatoes
  • As a counterpoint for foods that are salty, moderately spicy, rich and creamy, or deep-fried. (For example, a classic pairing is buttered popcorn with sparkling wine)
  • With many Latin dishes (empanadas ceviche and mole), Asian cuisines (Tempura, gyoza, Chinese deep-fried dishes, fish cakes, Indian Samosas, etc.), Middle Eastern dishes (hummus, baba ghanoush)
  • To accompany dishes that are challenging to pair with other wines like egg dishes and soups.
  • To pair with dishes that are inherently toasty like canapes or puff-pastry dishes.

Riesling

Riesling is widely regarded as the most food friendly white wine.  It’s among the most versatile wines because it’s made in a wide range of sweetness, from bone-dry to very sweet dessert style wines.

Riesling goes well:

  • Almost any fatty poultry like goose, duck and other gamy birds.
  • Rich, salty meats such as ham, sausages, and charcuterie. LIkewise for mildly salty cheeses such as Gorgonzola.
  • Sweet shellfish such as crab, lobster, and prawns.
  • Dishes seasoned with exotic spices, such as curries, cardamom, clove, mace, star anise, etc.
  • Quiche and other egg-based dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc

You know how a squeeze of lemon seems to enhance almost anything?  I think of Sauvignon Blanc as a vinous equivalent.  It can be a polarizing wine. It’s a bit like cilantro – people tend to either love it or hate it.  But since this a wine that is made in a diverse range of style, I believe there is something for virtually everyone.  It’s a matter of finding the style that suites you!

Sauvignon Blanc goes well:

  • With dishes emphasizing fresh herbs, or dressed with a  vinaigrette dressing.
  • With dishes prepared with a variety of cooking methods, from low-impact such as steamy to high-impact such as smoking, and grilling.
  • With most vegetarian soups.
  • As a counterbalance to rich dishes made with light-cream or butter-based sauces.
  • With acidic or sharp ingredients such as citrus, dairy (yogurt, sour cream,etc) dill, capers, olives, and tomatoes.
  • With spicy hot dishes – the acidity and generally lower alcohol level refreshes the palate.
  • With a wide variety of cheeses. Goat cheese is the classic pairing, but try it with Brie, Gruyere, Neufchatel, or sharp cheddar.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is known as the Chef’s wine  because its affinity for such a broad range of foods. It’s also the wine most often described in sensual terms! Depending on the vintner’s choices, it can be delicate and light-bodied, or bold and full-bodied!

Pinot Noir pairs well with:

  • Damn near everything (which is why it’s often the first choice for a food-a-palooza like Thanksgiving) because it’s so flexible.
  • Dishes that complement its inherently spicy flavors such as dishes spiced with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, or ginger.
  • With foods that are smoked, lightly charred, or grilled, especially if you’re serving one with a more oak-driven style.
  • Many fish – especially Salmon, tuna or swordfish.
  • With veggies (especially mushrooms) and dishes with earthier flavors such as cooked beans, greens, lentils, or dishes seasoned with Dijon mustard.
  • A multitude of Asian cuisines – Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean foods.  That’s because these cuisines often have sweet-salt flavor combinations with which Pinot Noir plays well.

Sangiovese

Sangiovese is produced  in diverse range of styles.  In Italy, where the wines are named after geographical regions rather than the grape varietal, there is, of course, Chianti, but there’s also Brunello, Montepulciano, and “Super Tuscan” variations of Sangiovese.

Sangiovese goes well:

  • With dishes with tomato-based sauces.
  • Dishes  that are slow braised, grilled, or lightly smoked.
  • With dishes featuring fresh herbs such as basil, thyme or sage.
  • Richer, full-bodied soups such a bean soup, or minestrone.
There you have it, my short-list of the 5 most food friendly wines (for a more comprehensive list click here)!  Equipped with these five wines, and spirit of exploration to find what works for your palate, pairing food and wine will go from daunting to delightful!  I’ve added a new feature this week.  Click on the hyperlinked name of the wine to find where you can buy. Also, since I’m limiting my wine recommendations to five, no dessert pairing this week:-(

Here is this week’s great #SundaySupper menu:

Breakfast, Starters, Butters and Jams:

Pair these dishes with Korbel Natural, a “California Champagne” made of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay.  It’s a crisp, dry sparkler with cherry, raspberry and apple character.

Main Dishes:

Pair these main dishes with the Korbel Natural mentioned above:

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road Vineyard. It’s from New Zealand and it’s full of citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruit character:

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Trimbach Riesling.  It’s dry wine from the Alsace region with delicate aromas that belie its rich, fruity tropical fruit, peach and citrus flavors:
Pair these dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2009 Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir from New Zealand.  This one has a fruity cherry, raspberry, herb, and spice character. 
Pair these dishes with a Sangiovese. Look for the 2009 Ninety+ Cellars Reserve Lot 57 Rosso Toscana.  It’s a blend of mostly Sangiovese (80%) with the balance split between Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Therefore it’s a what’s referred to as a “Super Tuscan”.  It’s loaded with blackberry, black cherry, and spice character.

Desserts:

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite 5 Ingredient Recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!

Related post you might like:

 

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut Premier Cru

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.

NV Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut Premier Cru

Where it’s from: FranceChampagne

The grape(s) Chardonnay (50%), and Pinot Noir (50%)

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged about 3 years on lees

Alcohol: 12%

Retail: $35 

My tasting notes follow:

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)

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Nicolas Feuillatte “Blue Label” Brut Champagne

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.

NV Nicolas Feuillatte “Blue Label” Brut Champagne

Where it from: FranceChampagne

The grape(s)  40%Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay

Residual Sugar – Unknown

$25 – Retail , 12% a.b.v.

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Aged just under 3 years on lees

My tasting notes follow:

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) 

Everything You Need To Know To Enjoy Sparkling Holidays!

More than any other time of year, the holiday season is the time for bubbly.   The challenge is the terminology around sparkling wine can be confusing.  For example, and bubbly labeled “Extra Dry” is actually sweeter than one labeled “Brut”, which is the standard for dryness in sparkling wine.  And since retailers are heavily promoting bubbly during the holidays, the myriad of choices can be overwhelming.  How do you know which one to pick?  I’ve been tasting sparkling wines from around the world and blogging about it in my “TGIF Champagne…and the like” on weekly basis for the last 10 months.  That’s a lot of bubbly! I’ve learned a lot about bubbly along the way. Here’s a quick primer to help you navigate the sparkling wine landscape before you head out to the store this holiday season.

Català: Bombolles de xampany rosat

Image via Wikipedia

Types of sparkling wines:

Champagne – Sparkling wines are produced all around the world, but due to a legal treaty, the term “champagne” is reserved exclusively for sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France (although thanks to being grandfathered in to a trade agreement between France and the US, Korbel refers to their sparkling wines as “California Champagne”) Champagne is widely regarded as the best sparkling wine.  Most champagne producers have an entry-level champagne that falls in the $35-$45 range.

Cava – Sparkling wine produced in Spain using the traditional method.  Typically made from grapes indigenous to Spain.  Good to very good Cava can be found in the $10-$20 range.

Prosecco – Sparkling wine produced in Italy typically using the Bulk Charmat method.  Asti is another Italian sparkler produced in the Asti region of Italy.  Good to very good Prosecco can be found in the $10-20 range

Cremant – Sparkling wine produced in France outside of the Champagne region using the traditional method.  This is where you’ll find more budget-friendly bubbly from France.  Look for Crémant from Loire, Rhone, and Burgundy for good value.

Methods of producing sparkling wines

All sparkling wines begin life as still wines.  Then they go through a secondary fermentation.  Unlike still wines, which go through one fermentation, sparkling wines go through two fermentations.

When a wine undergoes secondary fermentation in tanks or vessels, that is known as the Bulk Charmat method (a.k.a. Metodo Italiano).  When a wine undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle, it is known as the Traditional Method.  The Bulk Charmat method is a less expensive method of producing sparkling wines.  However, the wine produced using the traditional method can be more complex with smaller, longer lasting bubbles.

Styles of sparkling wines:

Non-vintage (“NV”)Most sparkling wine is a blend of wine from multiple vintages. Most of the base for the blend will be from a single vintage with typically anywhere from 10-15 % being from older vintages.  If a producer determines the grape harvest from a particular year is exceptional, then they may produce a “vintage” sparkler using grapes harvested in that year only.  Most sparkling wine producers produce a non-vintage bubbly because blending enable production of a consistent taste from year to year.

Blanc de NoirsSparkling wine produced exclusively from black grapes, such as Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier.

Blanc de BlancsSparkling wine produced exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.  If someone on your list is a fan of Chardonnay look for this style.

Rosé – A sparkling wine produced by either leaving the clear juice from black grapes to soak in the own skins for a brief period of time, or by adding the juice adding a small amount of red wine to the blend thereby producing a pink bubbly.  Rosés tend to be the most food friendly (and expensive) style of sparkling wine, though you can find some good ones for less than $20. Rose bubbly makes a great gift, and is a perennial top seller during the holidays because if its attractive hues hint at cranberris, holly berries and other seasonal ingredients.

Prestige Cuvée – In Champagne, a producer’s top of the line sparkler.  

Sweetness of Sparkling Wine:

The amount of residual sugar in sparkling wine determines its sweetness.  There are well-established guidelines for this.  Starting from the driest (least amount of sugar) they are:

Brut nature, or sans dosage  – no sugar added

Extra brut  – very dry

Brut – Dry; the most popular style and probably the most food friendly

Extra DryOff dry; meaning sweeter than Brut, but not as sweet as “Sec”.  These make very good aperitifs

Demi-sec – Sweet; pair with desserts or fruit

For specific suggestions of sparkling wines to try, check out these posts:

Top 10 Sparkling Wines Under $20

And the winner is…

What I’ve learned tasting 30 Sparkling Wines In 30 Weeks..

Murganheira Bottle of sparkling wine.

Image via Wikipedia

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

p.s. To view the sparklers reviewed in the “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…” series, just type in T.G.I.F in the Search box above.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – 2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux

This week’s virtual trip around the world of sparklers takes me back to France, specifically the Languedoc-Roussillon region that is renowned for great quality-price ration (“QPR”) wines.  I must confess that, so far, I’ve only enjoyed Crémants (as sparkling wines produced in France, but outside of Champagne are known) from the region.

The Crémant de Limoux is an Appellation d’origine contrôlée ”AOC” for modern-styled sparkling wines from the vineyards around the town of Limoux in southern France.  Crémant de Limoux are considered more modern because Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc dominate the blend, as opposed to Mauzac, which historically dominated the Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wines from the same region.

I’ve always found specificity of the French wine AOC system, which is based on the concept of terroir, interesting.  Especially compared to the relative freedom winemakers here enjoy.  For example, according to Wikipedia…

…Crémant de Limoux contains 40-70% Chardonnay, 20-40% Chenin Blanc, 10-20% Mauzac and 0-10% Pinot Noir.[1] AOC regulations dictate that the wine be aged for a least a year on the lees prior to disgorgement.

Here in the US, we don’t dictate the grapes, or percentage of grapes that go into wines, although there are some labeling laws.

Antech "Cuvée Eugenie" Cremant de Limoux

2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugenie” Crémant de Limoux

Region: France>Languedoc-Roussillon>Crémant de Limoux

Variety - 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac

Residual Sugar – Unknown

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Minimum of 18 months on lees.

Alcohol by volume: 12%

Cost:$14

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Pale straw color

Aromas: Brioche with Fuji apple and floral notes

Body: Medium-light bodied with zippy acidity, and a creamy mousse, and mouth feel

Taste:  Sweet green apple, pear, and honeyed toast

Finish: Medium

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 creamy fish dishes, or fondue.

This is a very good for $14, and another winner from the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  It would make a great house sparkler, especially if you prefer French wine.  I recommend. (87 pts)  To find this wine, click here



T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – NV Graham Beck Brut

This week’s virtual trip around the world of sparklers takes me back to South Africa.   Back in June I reviewed the NV Graham Beck Brut Rosé which I really enjoyed and heartily recommend.

The eponymous Graham Beck was founded in 1983.  The first sparkling wine was produced 8 years later in 1991.  In 1994 Graham Beck was served at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela.  Once apartheid and isolationism were gone, the wine industry in South Africa made great strides.  In addition to 5 others sparkling wines (both vintage and non-vintage), they produce a diverse line of reds, whites, and a rosé that’s a blend of Malbec and Sangiovese.

In South Africa, the Méthode Champenoise is referred to as the Methode Cap Classique (“MCC”), and the sparkling wines go by the same initials.

Graham Beck Brut - Photo courtesy of K&L Wine Merchants

NV Graham Beck Brut

Region: South Africa>Western Cape

Variety - 58% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir

Residual Sugar – 8.5g/Liter

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; 15-18 months on lees.

Alcohol by volume: 12%

Cost:$14

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Pale gold with copper tinge

Aromas: Yeast, and stone fruit

Body: Light bodied, with moderately aggressive mousse

Taste: Tart apple with touch of mineral flavor

Finish: Short-medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods.  Try this one with lighter fare such as your favorite summer salad, fresh shucked oysters, or poached salmon.

This is a good value at less than $14.  It reminds me of Champagne in that it’s biscuity, and dry and it costs less.  I recommend. (86 pts)



T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…2004 Korbel Le Premier

This week’s sparkling wine is a Korbel’s ”ultimate reserve champagne”, from the 2004 vintage.  Korbel, which sells the largest volume of sparkling wine (over 1 million cases) produced using the Méthode Traditionnellemakes a very modest 1400 cases of this “prestige” cuveé.  It’s unusual to see a vintage sparkler at this price point.  So what’s the difference between “vintage” and “non vintage” sparklers?  Non vintage, often-abbreviated “NV” is most common type of sparkler produced. It is made with grapes from different years, the goal being to produce sparkler that always tastes the same regardless of the quality of the grapes, which can fluctuate from year to year depending on weather conditions, etc. On the other hand, a vintage sparkler is made from grapes from only one year, because that was a great “vintage”, or great year for the grapes (i.e., growing conditions deemed exceptional by the winemaker).  2004 was such a year for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the source of grapes for this sparkler.  Also, producing a “vintage” sparkler lends prestige to the wine since ostensibly it’s made from the very best grapes.

Photo courtesy of Korbel - Korbel Le Premier

2004 Korbel Le Premier

Region: California;Sonoma; Russian River Valley

Varietal(s) – 60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir

Dosage – 0.75%

$25, 12.4% abv

Production method: Méthode Traditionnelle; Aged 4.5 years sur lie.  A portion of the wine aged 7 months in older french oak barrels. 

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Gold tinged straw color.

Aromas: Toast, green apples, with faint floral notes.

Body:  Creamy mousse with smallish, persistent bead of bubbles. On the palate – creamy, medium bodied, dry, and fresh tasting, with good acidity. 

Taste: Apples, tart cherries with touch of bittersweet orange flavor on the back palate.

Finish: Medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. We enjoyed this with a variety of sushi. This one would be enjoyable both as an aperitif, and with food.  It would pair well with a pasta with a nutty cream sauce, or pasta primavera with a bunch of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Korbel put more effort into this cuvee and it shows. This is a surprisingly good  and good value in terms of a domestic “vintage” sparkling wine. It’s not a great buy at $25, but I like it – 87pts

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…Schramsberg “Mirabelle” North Coast Rosé

This week’s sparkling wine is a Rosé  from “America’s First House of Sparkling Wine” – Schramsberg, which was founded in 1862.  I had the pleasure of going on a tour of Schramsberg’s historical caves a few months ago.  I found the tour to be educational, interesting and fun all at once.  I learned a great deal about the production of sparkling wine.  It’s a much more labor intensive than I’d previously thought, particularly the better sparklers, which are still riddled by hand.  Don’t know what riddling is? Click here for detailed explanation. There were a couple of facts mentioned that left me impressed:

  • The first is that according to our tour guide, the record for riddling is 48,000 bottles in one day!  That feat was accomplished by a gentleman who recently retired.  The “new guy”  currently riddles 25-30,000 bottles a day.
  •  The other factoid is that Schramsberg stores 2.5 million bottles of sparkling wine in the caves!
  • Click here for pictures from the tour.

Mirabelle Brut Rose. Photo courtesy of K&L Wine

N.V. Schramsberg “Mirabelle” Brut Rose

Region: California>North Coast (48% Napa/34% Sonoma/15% Mendocino/2% Marin)

Varietal(s) – 53% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot Noir

Dosage - 1.09 g/100mL

$20, 13.5% abv

Production method: Méthode Traditionnelle; Aged 24 months, sur lie

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Delicate pink color.

Aromas: Strawberries and bread dough.

Body: A creamy mousse with tiny, delicate bubbles. On the palate – Lively, fruity, dry and balanced with crisp acidity. 

Taste: Strawberries, raspberries, citrus, and touch of spice.

Finish: Medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. We enjoyed this with both seafood paella, and oven roasted salmon with a BBQ rub, and it paired fabulously with both. This one would be enjoyable both as an aperitif, and with food.

I highly recommend – 90 pts

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Perle d’Aurore

This week’s sparkling wine is a Crémant from the Burgundy region of France, the N.V. Louis Bouillot Perle d’ Aurore (Pearl of Dawn).  It is a sparkling Rosé. Burgundy is best known for their world-class Pinot Noir and White Burgundy (Chardonnay).

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne. Photo courtesy of K&L Wine Merchants

N.V. Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé “Perle d’Aurore”

Region: France; Burgundy; Cremant de Bourgogne

Variety -80% Pinot Noir & 20% Gamay

Dosage – Unknown

$14, 12% abv

Production method: Méthode Traditionnelle; Aged 24 months, sur lie

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance:  Salmon

Aromas: Cherries and a bit of oak

Body: Aggressive mousse with tiny, dispersed bubbles. Fruity on the front palate, and dry on the back palate.

Taste: Cherries and fuji apple

Finish: Short

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. We enjoyed this with a variety of grilled salmon. It’s enjoyable as an aperitif, but I found it to be a bit better with food.  It would pair well with grilled seafood, grilled chicken, or a mixed seafood pasta cooked in a tomato garlic sauce.

This wine is a good value for a Rosé sparkler.  However, I would spend an extra $2, and buy the Taltarni Brut Taché  from Australia, which I rated 90 pts. Nonetheless, I like this wine - 84 pts