International Chardonnay Smackdown!

The theme of the most recent Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) was International Chardonnay.  Inspiration for this theme came from my recent tastings of the Chardonnay of Chablis and Burgundy.  I was virtually an ABC (“Anything But Chardonnay”) person before the tastings of French Chardonnay.  They are so different from most California Chardonnay I’ve had.  Those tastings renewed by interest in Chardonnay.  I thought it would be great to share a different side of Chardonnay with with members of the PPWTC.

The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France to New World wines with oak, and tropical fruit flavors.

That’s one of the things that make wine tasting clubs fun, and educational – trying wines one might not normally try, from places “new to you” places.

Here’s how our blind-tasting went down:

  • Chardonnay priced between $15-$25
  • Maximum of 8 bottles tasted
  • All wines are blind tasted
  • There were 14 tasters, with a diverse range of experience with wine
  • Tasters are required to score all wines
  • The wines are scored based on 4 criteria (aromabody, taste, and finish) - each on a scale of 1-5 (1-low; 5-high). Therefore minimum score = 4 point and maximum = 20 points
  • Both average and median scores are calculated.  The winner determined by highest median score.  Average score used as tie breaker.
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The Contenders representing (L-R) Australia, Burgundy, Oregon, Chablis, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand, and California. This was also the tasting order

We had diverse selection of eight Chardonnay from around the world including:

The wines were tasted in the order of my tasting notes, which follow:

  • 2012 Oakridge Chardonnay Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard - Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Yarra Valley - Pale gold color with honeysuckle, peach, citrus, spice and wet stone aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with peach, green apple, , citrus flavors underscored by lively acidity and minerality. Nicely structured. Medium finish. Screwcap closure. Retail – $25
  • 2011 Domaine Matrot Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc - Pale lemon yellow color with pear, citrus and a hint of white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a wonderful mouth feel and apple, pear and citrus flavors. Medium+ finish. 100% Chardonnay. From vineyards averaging 30 years of age located next to the vaunted Mersault. Retail – $18
  • 2011 Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills - Pale gold color with stone fruit, apple, and buttered toast aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with peach, green apple, and citrus flavors lifted by lively acidity. Medium finish. 11.7% alcohol Retail – $24
  • 2011 Gérard Tremblay Chablis Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Chablis
    Pale yellow color with apple, wet stone, lemon peel aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, with lively acidity, and concentrated apple, lemon, and mineral flavors. Medium long finish. Sourced from vines of over 40 years of age, most planted in 1957. Retail – $20
  • 2012 Glenelly Estate Chardonnay Grand Vin - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch - Pale golden color with stonefruit, citrus, butterscotch, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, supple and layered with lively acidity and apple, citrus, vanilla, and mineral notes. Long finish. 13% alcohol. The grapes were whole cluster pressed. The juice was transferred to new and second fill 500L barrels after a brief settling. It was naturally fermented and then left for 9 months on its lees. Total time in barrel was 10 months.  Retail – $20
  • 2011 Cabreo Chardonnay La Pietra Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT - Pale gold color with appealing peach, pear, apple butter and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and persistent with lively acidity and apricot, pear, spiced baked apple and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. Retail – $20
  • 2007 Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate - New Zealand, North Island, Auckland, Kumeu - Pale gold color with buttered toast, honeysuckle, pear, tropical and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with vibrant acidity and green apple, pineapple, peach, citrus and vanilla flavors. Medium+ finish. Native yeast is used for the wine and is 100% barrel fermented and goes through 100% malolactic fermentation. Retail – $20
  • 2012 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Chardonnay - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros - Pale yellow gold color with lifted, appealing pear, lemon and white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with focused apple, citrus flavors with a hint of minerality and a lingering satisfying finish. 50% barrel fermented; aged sur lie five months in French oak Retail – $21

The winner with a median score of 15 points was *drum roll please*…

International Chardonnay Smackdown

2012 Glenelly Estate Chardonnay Grand Vin – South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch

The runners-up (in descending order) were:

  • 2011 Cabreo Chardonnay La Pietra Toscana IGT (13.5 pts)
  • 2012 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Chardonnay (13.5 pts)
  • 2011 Gérard Tremblay Chablis Vieilles Vignes (13 pts)
  • 2011 Domaine Matrot Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc (11.5 pts)
  • 2011 Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay (10.5 pts)
  • 2012 Oakridge Chardonnay Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard (10 pts)
  • 2007 Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate (8.8 pts)

Blind tastings are always fun, and there’s almost always a surprise of some sort.  I was surprised the winning wine was from South Africa.  South Africa is a country more renown for Pinotage, and Chenin Blanc, than Chardonnay.  It was a decisive victory at that.

On the other hand, the scores for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place wines were tightly clustered. The Cabreo from Italy edged out the Charles Krug from California, based on the average score tiebreaker (13.82 v 13.64).

So often in blind tasting, it’s the wine that “speaks” the loudest that wins.  That certainly was not the case here.  The winner displayed a judicious use of oak, as did the wines in the next four places.

That’s what I love about wine tasting clubs, it gives one a chance to discover what they prefer by tasting wines back to back, so that one can discern the differences immediately, and  draw conclusions about their preferences.  And that’s what each our wine journeys should be discovering what pleases our palate!

Disclosure: All wines were purchased from K&L Wine Merchants, except the Charles Krug (Peter Mondavi) Chardonnay.  It was a sample provided by Charles Communications Associates, LLC.

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2011 Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine of the Week is the 2011 Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc.

The Winery

Domaine Matrot is one of the oldest estate-bottlers in Burgundy. It has been distributed in the U.S. for more than 30 years.  The Domaine is owned by Thierry Matrot and his wife, Pascale.  Thierry and Pascale’s daughters represent the sixth generation of this wine-growing family.

They farm about 75% of its 45 acres in some of the best vineyard sites in the heart of Burgundy, in the Cote d’Or, just outside of  Meursault, a large village in the Cote de Beaune.  The average age of the vines farmed is about 30 years.

They produce a wide range of other Chardonnay including many premier cru bottlings, along with Aligote and a hand-full of Pinot Noir.

The Wine

I was introduced to this wine at a  La Paulée tasting at my favorite wine store, K&L Wine Merchants, last month (For more on that tasting click here).  Up to that point, my experience with Burgundy was fairly limited.  I felt as if something was missing from my oenophile resume.  After all, Burgundy is one of the most historic and respected  wine regions in the world!  And let’s not forget, it can be crazy expense (which why my experience was limited).  However, more reasonably priced gems may be found in Burgundy.  It just takes a bit of effort, and you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

This fabulous buy is a rare find from the super-premium world of Burgundy

This wine is 100% Chardonnay,  sourced from vineyards averaging 30 years of age.  It was fermented on native yeast for 8 to 10 weeks in oak barrels, 15 to 20 % of which are new. It was aged for 11 months and undergoes complete malolactic fermentation.

Interestingly, Matrot uses this wine to break in new oak casks for his more expensive and prestigious Meursault.

Retail – $18; Alcohol – 12.5; Drink now to 2016.

photo (31)

My tasting notes follow:

Pale lemon yellow color with pear, citrus and a hint of white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, focused, and fresh with a rich, wonderful mouth feel and apple, pear and citrus flavors and an appealing minerality. Medium+ finish. >>Find this wine<<

Rating: B+: On the verge of Excellent, this wine offered the best value in the tasting, especially considering the bottles I enjoyed marginally more were $65-$70!.  I just had to pick up some more!

Pair with:  Enjoy as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to charcuterie, chicken and grilled fish.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

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Wine of the Week: Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve

The 2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve is my Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for September 22-September 28.

The Winery

The Robert Mondavi Winery was established in 1966 by Robert Mondavi, one of the most influential and esteemed winemakers in California history (Click here for his story).  It was the first major winery built in Napa Valley. For decades it was California’s most famous winery.  It was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2004.

It’s a beautiful property with classic California mission-style architecture, with an expansive archway and bell tower.  I must confess I haven’t been in a long time.  I recall visiting on one of my first trips to Napa.  Nowadays, I tend to visit the smaller wineries.  But, I’ve been impressed with their reserve wines.  I’ve also been impressed with a few of their entry-level wines  In particular the Napa Valley Merlot, and the Private Selection Meritage provide very good to great price quality performance.

The Wine

The grapes for this wine were sourced from the Hyde Vineyard in cool climate Carneros AVA in the southernmost part of the Napa Valley.  The grapes are pressed as whole clusters, then fermented on native yeasts in French oak where the wine undergoes partial malolactic fermentation.

What struck me most about this wine is how balanced it is.

2010 Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay, Carneros

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with beguiling apple, butter, floral along with hints of honey, oak and tropical aromas. On the palate it’s med-bodied and impeccably balanced, with a creamy texture, very good acidity, with apple, tropical fruits and a bit of honey flavors. Med long finish. – 91pts

 

Chardonnay is not top of mind for me when it comes to wine and food pairing, but this is a very food friendly Chardonnay.  There is a judicious use of oak, and very good acidity. It was fantastic with a Five Spice Chicken and Asian Style Noodle salad!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.5% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA:  > California > Napa / SonomaCarneros

Varietal(s): 100% Chardonnay

Cooperage: Aged in French Oak (68% new) for 8 months, neutral barrels for 7 months

Retail: $40

Cases produced: 704

Media Sample

Many thanks to Folsom & Associates for providing the wine.

Related posts your may enjoy:

What Are The Most Food Friendly Wines?

It’s my pleasure to share this post of mine recently published by 12most.

12 Most Food-Friendly Wines

In my recent post entitled “12 Most Practical Wine and Food Pairing Guidelines”, one my recommendations for sensibly pairing food and wine is to get to know “food-friendly” wines. Food-friendly wines have three primary characteristics 1) Palate-cleansing acidity, 2) Lots of fruitiness with low tannins, and 3) Balanced components (i.e. fruit, acidity, and tannins).

Try these wines for those times you don’t want to put a lot of thought into what wine you’re having with weeknight meals, or more casual gatherings. There’s something here for everyone — Whites, Reds, Sparkling and Rosé. Keep in mind that each of the wines come in broad range of styles. Let your palate be your guide for the style you prefer.

Reds

1. Beaujolais

This wine, made from the Gamay grape is named for the region from which it hails. Think Beaujolais when you want a red that you’d normally have with a white wine. Many top crus go for around $20
Recommended Region(s): France – Cru Beaujolais (non-Nouveau)
Profile: Light-bodied with moderate to high acidity, and low tannins with aromatic red plum, cherry, raspberry, hints of black pepper aromas/flavors.

2. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the most well-known food friendly red wine.
Recommended Region(s): France – Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with aromatic with floral, cherry, red currant, raspberry, and sometimes gamey aromas/flavors when young, aging to vegetal and mushroom when mature

3. Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh)

Generally speaking, Italy makes a plethora of food friendly wines, especially reds. Sangiovese is the most planted red grape in Italy, and the most important grape used in the great wines of Tuscany. It is one of the wine world’s great gifts to the culinary world! It’s a natural for dishes containing tomatoes, or acidic tomato sauces
Recommended Region(s): Italy (Tuscany), California
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with black cherry, spice, smoky, herbal savory aromas/flavors.

4. Zinfandel

Zinfandel can go far beyond burgers and BBQ. I’ve enjoyed with Mexican, and Pakistani dishes. The style of Zinfandel is crucial for matching it with food. Look for lighter “Beaujolais” style Zinfandel at around 14% a.b.v, and “Claret” style between 14% and 15% a.b.v. for maximum food pairing versatility. If prefer “bigger” Zinfandels, then opt for pairing with richer foods.
Recommended Region(s): California
Profile: Medium/Full bodied moderate to high acidity, and strawberry, raspberry, plum, blackberry, pepper, bramble, and spice aromas/flavors

5. Syrah

Syrah and Syrah based blends do a great job of striking a balance between finesse and power. It can be full-bodied and complex like Cabernet Sauvignon, but tend to be less tannic. Cool climate Syrah is especially food friendly. And many very good examples can be found for less than $20.
Recommended Region(s): France (Rhône), California, Washington, and Australia
Profile: Medium/full-bodied with moderate to high acidity, with blackcurrant, plum, blackberry, earthy, herbal, chocolate, and violet aromas/flavors

Whites

6. Riesling

Riesling is the most well-known white food friendly wine. Thanks to its food loving nature, it’s on the upswing. If you’re looking for one wine to serve with many dishes, Riesling is an excellent choice, especially if you’re not into red wine. Look for dry and off-dry styles
Recommended Region(s): Germany, France (Alsace) Washington, New York, California
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and Intensely aromatic with floral, green apples, light spice aromas/flavors when you ageing to petrol and honey when mature

7. Sauvignon Blanc

Stylistically, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be the opposite of Chardonnay. That’s because it tends not to see as much oak as Chardonnay and its acidity is more apparent. It’s very versatile food wine, especially with dishes emphasizing, or enhanced with fresh herbs. Try it with guacamole!
Recommended Region(s): France (Loire, and Bordeaux), U.S., New Zealand,
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and aromatic, grassy, herbaceous, tropical, citrus, and gooseberries aromas/flavors

8. Grüner Vetliner

Grüner Vetliner (GROO-ner FELT-leen-ner) is indigenous to Austria, where it accounts for about a third Austria grape production. It’s a favorite of many sommeliers because of its versatility with foods. Here in the US we often reach for red wine to accompany meat dishes, but in Austria, Grüner is served with game, beef, pork, poultry and veal. Looking for a wine for tough food matches like asparagus, and artichokes? Try Grüner. And it’s great with fried chicken!
Recommended Region(s): Austria
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, with vanilla-dipped peach, grapefruit, and aromas/flavors with a distinctive spicy finish.

9. Chardonnay

This most popular wine has very good “foodability” if it is not overly oaked. In fact, more unoaked Chardonnay is being produced these days. While unoaked Chardonnay may be a bit more versatile food partner, oaked (used judiciously) Chardonnay typically makes a more full-bodied wine.
Recommended Region(s): France (Chablis, and Burgundy), California, Australia, Chile, and Argentina
Profile: Light/Medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, and floral, ripe apple, pineapple, butterscotch, lemon, vanilla, and custard aromas/flavors.

10. Sherry

Hear me out on this one. I’m not referring to your grandmother’s Cream Sherry. I’m referring to dry Sherry. And thanks to adventurous wine geeks, and passionate sherry lovers, this fortified wine is gaining in popularity because of its food friendly nature and exceptional quality/price ratio.
True Sherry, is only produced in Spain’s “Sherry Triangle”. It’s a singularly unique beverage because of its terroir, and the method by which it is produced. With its unique tangy, sometimes oxidative and saline flavors, it can be polarizing. It was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but I think it’s fabulous with food!

The principles of pairing Sherry with food are like other wines, according to weight and texture. For Fino and Manzanillo think appetizers, seafood, and sushi, and sashimi. Pair Amontillado, with its rich nuttiness, with stronger flavored foods (including spicy foods) like oily fishes and chicken dishes. Serve chilled.

Recommended Region: Spain

Profile: The main styles of Sherry are light-bodied, straw colored, dry Fino, and fuller bodied darker Oloroso. Between Fino and Oloroso in body, and dryness are Manzanillo, and Amontillado.  Typical aromas and flavors of Finos are yeasty, toasted almond, green apples, and slightly oxidative.  Oloroso tend to be more aromatic with fresh mixed nuts, dried fruit, and citrus peel.

11. Rosé

Rosés (in particular dry Rosé) combine the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They possess the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines. Rosés are diverse bunch, produced from a wide range of grapes, in various styles ranging from simple quaffable wines to complex gems in a wide palette of colors. Don’t relegate these babies to warm weather months. Because of their versatility they’re wonderful year-round!
Recommended Region(s): France, Spain, Italy, and U.S.
Profile: Light/medium bodied with strawberry, melon, and cherry aroma/flavors

Sparkling

12. Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are very versatile and food friendly because of their innately high acidity levels, and their palate cleansing “scrubbing bubbles” effect. They can be served throughout the day, and throughout a meal too. The driest ones are excellent as an aperitif and with shellfish and caviar. Off-dry bubbly is suitable for brunch, lunch, salads, and many dinner entrees. The sweeter ones pair nicely with fruit- based desserts.
Recommended Region(s): France, US, Spain (Cava), Italy (Prosecco)

Profile: Light to medium-full bodied, and bone-dry Extra Brut to sweet “doux”.  Typical aromas and flavors are yeast, apple, citrus, stone fruit, and cherry depending on the blend of grape varieties used

With these 12 wines in your vinous arsenal, you’ll overcome many a gastronomic challenge! Are there any favorites of yours that I left out?

Featured image courtesy of jinhai via Creative Commons.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Roederer Estate Brut

This week’s sparkler is produced by Roederer Estate, owned by Louis Roederer Champagne, which is renowned for producing the luxury Champagne Cristal.  The California operation is located in Anderson Valley, north of the Napa Valley.  My last visit to Anderson Valley was a few years ago.  I really enjoyed it.  It doesn’t have cachet of Napa, or Sonoma, but the tasting rooms are much more intimate, the locals are friendly, it truly beautiful, and there are some great wines, especially Pinot Noir, Chards, and Alsatian varietals.  I highly recommend a visit.  I’ll be sure to stop in a Roederer my next trip up. Besides various holdings in France, the Roederer group also includes Scharffenberger Cellars, another sparkling wine house in Anderson Valley.

This sparkler was the first produced by Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley in 1988.  All their sparklers are made from Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir sourced from their 580 acre estate vineyards.   Additionally, each cuvée includes some portion of reserve wines which are selected from the best wines each year and aged in French oak casks.   Since the top of the line “L’ Ermitage vintage sparkling wines contain about 4% of these reserve wine, I think it’s a safe assumption this non-vintage cuvee contains less.

NV Roederer Estate Brut

NV Roederer Estate Brut

Region: California>Napa Valley

Variety – 60% Chardonnay, and 40% Pinot Noir

Dosage – 1.2% residual sugar

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Aged a minimum of 2 years on lees

Alcohol by volume: 12%

Cost: $18 (on sale) Retail: $25

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Light golden straw color with plentiful persistent stream of tiny bubbles

Aromas: Sweet yeast, fresh-cut green apples

Body:  Medium-bodied with soft texture, and zippy acidity

Taste: Between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla

Finish: Short

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods.  This one would be a very nice aperitif, and also pair with nicely with wide variety of foods.  Pair with Sole Meunier, Fish and Chips, or Sushi/Sashimi. This would make a good sparkler for your Thanksgiving table too!

This is a very good sparkling wine, especially for a non-vintage.  It has a bit of complexity, is very enjoyable, and it’s widely available.  I’ll buy again whenever I find it only sale, which is frequently. I’m looking forward to trying the Rosé!  (89 pts).

“May your glass always be filled with warm memories, and the taste of a life well lived linger on your tongue” – Unknown

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Mumm Napa Cuvee M

Mumm Napa is a joint venture between G.H. Mumm & Cie, of France, and Joseph E Seagram & Sons.  G.H. Mumm & Cie was founded in 1827, ironically by the von Mumms, German winemakers who trace their ancestry back to medieval times. The Napa location was founded by in 1979 by Guy Deveaux, who passed away in 1995. Mumm produces an upscale line of “DVX” sparkling wines in his honor.  They have a pretty diverse lineup of sparkling wines, that includes a sparkling Pinot Noir, and a Santana Brut, which is collaboration between Mumm and Carlos Santana.  They also produce Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay still wines.  Mumm sources their fruit from both Carneros, and the Yountville AVAs.

This cuvée was aged 18 months on lees.  It contains a proprietary dosage of late-harvest Muscat and Pinot Noir.  It’s the dosage that determines the sweetness of the final product.  In the case of this sparkler, it’s produced in the “sec” style, or what I considered to be the upper end of the “off-dry” style.

 

Mumm Cuvée M - Photo courtesy of Mumm Nap;a

NV Mumm Napa Brut Rosé

Region: California>Napa Valley

Variety – 48% Chardonnay/43% Pinot Noir/6% Pinot Gris/3% Pinot Meunier

Dosage – 3.1% residual sugar

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Late harvest Muscat and Pinot Noir added en tirage

Alcohol by volume: 12.5%

Cost: $15 (on sale) Retail: $22

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Light straw color with tiny bead of bubbles

Aromas: Brioche, stone fruit, and a bit of citrus

Body:  Easy, light-bodied, with moderately aggressive mousse, clean and slightly sweeter than off-dry.

Taste: Pear and vanilla

Finish: Short finish

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods.  This one would be a very nice aperitif, and also pair with nicely with fruit desserts, or because it’s sweeter, spicy foods.

I found this to be interesting.  It has some sweetness, but it wasn’t overly sweet, and it was “clean”, meaning it didn’t have a cloying aftertaste.  I think this is definitely a wine for folks who want a sweeter sparkler.  And if you’re a fan of Moscatos that seem so popular, particularly among Millennials, these days, you’ll enjoy this.  It was easy, enjoyable, and it’s widely available.  I’d buy again whenever I find it only sale, which is frequently, especially if I serving friends who prefer their sparklers with some sweetness. (86pts).

“May your glass always be filled with warm memories, and the taste of a life well lived linger on your tongue” – Unknown

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Mumm Napa Brut Rosé

Mumm Napa is a joint venture between G.H. Mumm & Cie, of France, and Joseph E Seagram & Sons.  G.H. Mumm & Cie was founded in 1827, ironically by the von Mumms, German winemakers who trace their ancestry back to medieval times. The Napa location was founded by in 1979 by Guy Deveaux, who passed away in 1995. Mumm produces an upscale line of “DVX” sparkling wines in his honor.  They have a pretty diverse lineup of sparkling wines, that includes a sparkling Pinot Noir, and a Santana Brut, which is collaboration between Mumm and Carlos Santana.  They also produce Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay still wines.

Mumm sources their fruit from both Carneros, and the Yountville AVAs.  This sparkler was formerly known as Mumm Blanc de Noirs.

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé - Photo courtesy of Mumm website


NV Mumm Napa Brut Rosé

Region: California>Napa Valley

Variety – 85% Pinot Noir, and 15% Chardonnay

Dosage – 1.2% residual sugar

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Pinot Noir added en tirage

Alcohol by volume: 12.5%

Cost: $16 (on sale) Retail: $24

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Salmon color  with fairly persistent stream of tiny bubbles

Aromas: Yeast, strawberries, and cherries

Body:  Between light and medium-bodied with soft texture, crisp, fruity yet dry, and a bit cloying on the back end.

Taste:  Strawberry, and cherry

Finish: Approaching medium finish

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods.  This one would be a very nice aperitif, and also pair with nicely with wide variety of foods.

This is a very good entry-level sparkling Rosé.  It was easy, enjoyable, and it’s widely available.  I’ll buy again whenever I find it only sale, which is frequently.  If you’ve not tried a Rosé sparkler, give this one a try! (87 pts).

“May your glass always be filled with warm memories, and the taste of a life well lived linger on your tongue” – Unknown

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Blason Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc De Noirs

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.


NV Blason Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc De Noirs

Region: France>Burgundy>Crémant de Bourgogne

Variety – Pinot Noir, and Gamay

Dosage – < 15g/L

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged 16-18 months on racks

Alcohol by volume: 13%

Cost: $11

My tasting notes follow:

Color: Light golden-yellow with copper tinge

Aromas: Brioche, and red fruits – cherries and strawberries

Body: Light-bodied with dispersed small bubbles that dissipated quickly

Taste: Strawberry, cherry and toast

Finish: Short-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 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

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Domaine Chandon California Rosé

Domaine Chandon, established in 1973, was the first French-owned sparkling wine venture in the United States.  The winery, and their highly regarded restaurant étoile are co-located in Yountville. Thus creating the only fine dining/restaurant in the Napa Valley.  Chandon makes both sparkling and still wine, but are best known for their sparkling wines which are produced from the traditional Champagne grapes, ChardonnayPinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  The grapes are sourced from three appellations within Napa Valley Los Carneros AVAMt. Veeder AVA, and Yountville AVA.

In addition to their Blanc de Noirs (see link below for my revieiw), this Rosé, they also produce Brut Classic, Extra-Dry Riche, and a Sparkling Red wine.  All the aforementioned wines retail for between $22-$26.  I’ve been looking to trying the Sparkling Red, which I think would make a great Thanksgiving wine.  In addition to their entry-level sparkling wines they also produce Reserve, Vintage, and three top of the line étoile sparkling wines.


Chandon California Rosé Photo courtesy of Domaine Chandon

NV Domaine Chandon California Rosé

Region: California

Variety – Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir

Residual Sugar – Unknown

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged at least 12 months on less.  Pinot Noir added en tirage

Alcohol by volume: 13%

Cost: $14 (on sale) Retail: $21

My tasting notes follow:

Color: Pink with a coppery tinge

Aromas: Bread dough, and strawberries

Body: Small dispersed bubbles with somewhat creamy mousse.  It went flat relatively quickly.

Taste:  Creamy strawberries, cherries and a touch of spice

Finish: Short

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.  The night I had it, I enjoyed it with a wide range of leftovers including steak, chicken apples sausage, chili relleno, and a salad.  It worked well with all the foods!

This is a very good entry level sparkling Rosé.  It was easy, enjoyable, and it’s widely available.  It’d buy again whenever, I find it only sale.  If you’ve not tried a Rosé sparkler, this is a good one try.  (86 pts).

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