T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Kirkland Signature Champagne Brut De Bruyne

I was in Costco, and saw they had a “Kirkland” branded Champagne for $19.99. ¬†That’s the lowest price I’ve seen on the real stuff from France, and Costco has a good track record for wines in my book, ¬†so I decided to pick up a bottle.

This Champagne is made by¬†Manuel Janisson of Champagne Janisson & Fil ¬†in the village of Verzenay, which is designated a Grand Cru village, located in the Cote de Sezanne region. ¬†This wine is comparable to a second label Champagne, ¬†meaning it’s a less expensive wine made from grapes, or wine not considered worthy of the winery’s primary label. ¬†For example, in this case Champagne Janisson & Fil which used very few of their Grand Cru (their best vineyard), or Premier Cru ( second best vineyards) for this wine. ¬†The grapes are sourced from other vineyards. ¬†This is a common practice at wineries, so no heartburn for me there. ¬†Frankly, that’s why it can be sold for $20.

NV Kirkland Signature Champagne Brut De Bruyne – Janisson

Where it’s from:¬†France>¬†Champagne>¬†Cote de S√©zanne>¬†Champagne

The grape(s) Chardonnay (45%), Pinot Noir (40%), Pinot Meunier (5%)

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 12%

Dosage: Brut

Aging: 20 months on lees

Retail: $19.99

My tasting notes follow:

Light golden-yellow straw color with lots of tiny, but dispersed bubbles, accompanied by toasty yeast, stone fruit and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s pleasantly creamy, but simple with tart stone fruit and cherry flavors.

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-).  This one will work both as an aperitif, and with lighter main course dishes without heavy sauces.  I bet this would be great with salty treats such as Ranch flavored potato chips, or side dish like mac and cheese,  or fish tacos.

Recommendation: ¬†This is a good sparkling wine, that had some of the¬†characteristics¬†unique to Champagne such as a creamy mousse, and a nice pin-prick sized bubbles, but I found it lacked complexity. ¬†The challenge for me is that I can think of several Cavas, American Sparklers, Cr√©mants, etc. that are priced similarly, or below that I’ve enjoyed more. ¬†This won’t be a repeat purchase for me.

Wine Words Demystified: Crémant

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus - Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is Crémant (cray mahn)

According to¬†Karen MacNeil‚Äės¬†The Wine Bible:

…cr√©mant is reserved for French sparkling wines made outside the Champagne region using the METHODE CHAMPENOISE…it was once used to describe a Champagne with about half the usual effervescence, often called a creaming wine.

Cr√©mant is French for ‚Äúcreamy‚ÄĚ. ¬†I’m more familiar with how the word is used these days – for French sparkling wines made outside of the Champagne region. ¬†By¬†French law, they can‚Äôt be called champagne and no reference can be made to that region. ¬†For example,¬†Cr√©mant¬†de Limoux, or Cr√©mant¬†de Bourgogne, which are sparkling wines made in the Limoux and Burgundy regions of France respectively. Currently there are seven appellations in France that are allowed to use the¬†designation cr√©mant in their name. ¬†In my experience, if you’re looking for value in sparkling wine from France, look to one of those regions. ¬†They are made from high-quality hand-picked grapes like Champagne, using the same traditional painstaking method used to produce Champagne, but priced much more reasonably!

I recently came across this sparkler from Schramsberg (click here to read my review)…

2007 Schramsberg Cremant Demi-Sec

It’s a great example of a cr√©mant in the more traditional sense – ¬†it refers to a sparkling wine with less pressure and softer effervescence ((less carbon dioxide equals fewer bubbles). ¬†Traditional Champagne, and other sparkling wines are bottled at 5-6¬†atmospheres, whereas this wine is bottled at 2-3 atmospheres. ¬†The lower pressure results in the wine having a creamier, softer feel in your mouth.

Cheers!

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…Piper Sonoma Brut

This week’s sparkler is from Piper Sonoma. ¬†I’m not sure why I haven’t tried this wine before, but it’s the only Northern California sparkling wine producer whose bubbly I’ve not had the pleasure of trying.

Piper Sonoma was founded in 1980¬†by the Piper-Heidseick Champagne house. ¬†This brand seems to be lagging behind other California sparking wine houses established by French Champagne houses like Chandon, Mumm, ¬†Taittinger and Roederer. ¬†It’s exchanged hands a few times. ¬†Last year it, ¬†along with Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck brands from the Champagne region of France, was sold by¬†¬†R√©my Cointreau to the Soci√©t√© Europ√©enne de Participations Industrielles, or EPI. ¬†Prior to that,¬†R√©my Cointreau USA sold the winery to J Vineyards & Winery in 1997 and continued to make wine under contract there until 2007. ¬†Then the brand was sold to¬†Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services¬†in Hopland, followed by R√©my brand Bearboat.

This cuvée is a typical blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier that includes 20-25% reserve wines. Between 75-80% of the fruit is from Sonoma with the balance being from Dry Creek, and Carneros.

Piper Sonoma Brut

Where it’s from: California>Sonoma Valley

The grape(s) Chardonnay (60%), Pinot Noir (15%),  and Pinot Meunier (25%)

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 13.5

Dosage: Brut

Aging: 18 months on less

¬†Retail: $18¬†(I purchased on sale for $12 ‚Äď it‚Äôs frequently on sale at my local Safeway)

My tasting notes follow:

Light yellow straw color with lots of tiny bubbles with toasty biscuit, apple, and hints of floral and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s between light, medium-bodied, and crisp with a surprisingly creamy mousse and green apple, vanilla, anise and mineral flavors. Medium finish. – 86pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would be wonderful as an aperitif ,  and with first courses, such lobster rolls, crab cakes, or deviled eggs or salads.

Recommendation: This is a very good sparkler. ¬†I see it as a step up from many of the Korbel sparklers, but sold at a price point just below comparable entry-level sparklers from Mumm, Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, etc. ¬†It’s a “tweener” that¬†offers good value at the sale price of $11.99.

Cheers!

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like….Cazanove Brut Rose Champagne

This week’s bubbly is a Ros√© Champagne produced by Champagne Charles de Cazanove. ¬†It’s a brand with which I was not familiar until I did a post on their Brut Premier Cru Champagne¬†a couple of weeks ago. ¬†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 rangeof Champagne. ¬†This bottling is one of five in their entry-level “Tradition P√®re & Fil” range. Sometimes a wine make a first impression then fades as you spend more time with it. ¬†Sometimes, the last sip is the same as the first in terms of how you feel about it. ¬†And sometime a wine grows on you with each sip. ¬†This was one of those wines for me. ¬†I enjoyed it more with each sip.

Charles de Cazanove Brut Rosé

NV Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut Rosé

Where it’s from:¬†France>¬†Champagne

The grape(s) Pinot Noir (75%); Pinot Meunier (15%); Chardonnay (10%)

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

Alcohol: 12% Retail: $35 

My tasting notes follow:

Pink with an orange hue color with a steady bead of pin-prick bubbles and fruity candied cherry and subtle yeast aromas. Medium bodied with a soft mousse, good balance and cherry, mandarin orange, and a hint of baking spice  flavors. Medium finish. 75% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier and 10% Chardonnay - 90pts

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 a very good aperitif, especially with mixed charcuterie. ¬†Believe it or not, I had this with Jerk-Spiced Baby Back Ribs from B Side BBQ, and it was a very good match! ¬†Since it’s medium-bodied it will fare well with a variety of dishes.

I really enjoyed this. ¬†It was outstanding! You could easily spend a¬†lot¬†more on a Ros√© Champagne. ¬†This is a very good value at $35. ¬†I highly recommend!¬†¬†If you’re looking for an impressive bottle of Ros√© Champagne that won’t break the bank for a hostess/host gift, or (dare I say it) an excellent V-Day Champagne, check this one out! (Click¬†here¬†to find this wine)

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 P√®re & 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:¬†France>¬†Champagne

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)

Wine Of The Week: NV Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rosé

My wine of the week for March 17-23 is the NV Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Ros√©. ¬†Franciacorta, refers both to the territory, located in the Lombardy region of Italy, and the sparkling wine produced from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory. ¬†Since 1995, Franciacorta has had DOCG status, the highest echelon of Italian wine classifications, applied solely to the sparkling wines produced in the region. ¬†Here’s a quick rundown on the main regulations that come along with that DOCG status:

  • Franciacorta is the only region in Italy that requires sparkling wine be made by the traditional method (“metodo classico” in Italian)
  • Grapes are grown in strictly delimited vineyards from within 19 different communes
  • Permitted grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco, with 85% planted Chardonnay, 10% to Pinot Nero, and 5% to Pinot Bianco
  • Non-vintage (NV) Franciacorta must aged at least 25 months after harvest, with at least 18 months in contact with the yeast in the bottle
  • Vintage Franciacorta must be aged at least 37 months after harvest, with a least 37 months in contact with yeast in the bottle
  • Franciacorta¬†ros√©¬†must contain at least 15%¬†Pinot Nero
  • Dosage levels(i.e., the level of sweetness) are exactly as they are in Champagne

You’re probably pretty familiar with the most popular kinds of Italian bubbly (a.k.a “spumante” in Italian), Prosecco, and Asti Spumante, which are often described as alternatives to Champagne. Think of Franciacorta as Italy’s answer¬†to Champagne! ¬†So while Prosecco and Asti are almost always produced using the less expensive Charmat bulk process, Franciacorta is produced using the same traditional method used in Champagne.

Here’s an interesting factoid. ¬†The producer of this wine,¬†Contadi Castaldi, is the only winery to have vineyards in all 19 communes permitted to grow grapes for production of Franciacorta.

My tasting notes follow:

Beautiful copper color with steady bead of pin-prick bubbles, and brioche, fruity, fresh red fruit aromas. On the palate, it displays a creamy mousse, and is approaching medium-bodied with fresh strawberry, raspberry flavors, and a hint of spice flavors. Medium finish.  65% Chardonnay, and 35% Pinot Nero

It’s always fun for me to try something new. ¬†As I like to say, I’m very much still in the “promiscuous” phase of my oenophilic¬†journey, and I’m glad I’ve had the pleasure of Franciacorta. ¬†It’s got me thinking of an Italian m√®nage √† trois…Prosecco as an aperitif, Franciacorta for the entr√©e, and Asti for dessert. ¬†That my friends will be bubblelicious!

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 Res√®rve Particuli√®re ¬†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: France> Champagne

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

Residual Sugar – Unknown

$25 РRetail , 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) 

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¬†‚Äú12 Most Practical Wine and Food Pairing Guidelines‚ÄĚ,¬†one my recommendations for sensibly pairing food and wine is to get to know ‚Äúfood-friendly‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôt want to put a lot of thought into what wine you‚Äôre having with weeknight meals, or more casual gatherings. There‚Äôs something here for everyone ‚ÄĒ Whites, Reds, Sparkling and Ros√©. 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôve enjoyed with Mexican, and Pakistani dishes. The style of Zinfandel is crucial for matching it with food. Look for lighter ‚ÄúBeaujolais‚ÄĚ style Zinfandel at around 14% a.b.v, and ‚ÄúClaret‚ÄĚ style between 14% and 15% a.b.v. for maximum food pairing versatility. If prefer ‚Äúbigger‚ÄĚ 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 (Rh√īne), 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. Gr√ľner Vetliner

Gr√ľner Vetliner (GROO-ner FELT-leen-ner) is indigenous to Austria, where it accounts for about a third Austria grape production. It‚Äôs 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, Gr√ľner is served with game, beef, pork, poultry and veal. Looking for a wine for tough food matches like asparagus, and artichokes? Try Gr√ľner. And it‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúfoodability‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs ‚ÄúSherry Triangle‚ÄĚ. It‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúscrubbing bubbles‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúdoux‚ÄĚ. ¬†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.

Sparkling Wine Smackdown…Ten Sparklers; One Winner!

The most recent meeting of the Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) was all about bubbly. ¬†It also happened to be¬†the 2nd anniversary of the PPWTC. ¬†It was a great night of bubbly, food, and friends. ¬† It’s been most¬†is gratifying to experience the growth, and evolution of our wine club, and its members.

I want to give a special shout out to Jojo and Joy for co-hosting these last couple of years. ¬†They are¬†always¬†fabulous hosts, and throw a great party…er wine tasting club meeting ;-) second to none!

As for the 10 sparklers, it was a diverse group dominated by California sparklers, but that also included 2 bottles from Champagne, a Prosecco from Italy, and even a sparkler from Bulgaria (which turned out to be pretty much undrinkable – I knew something was up I pulled the plastic cork)!

All Set Up And Ready For The Sparkler Smackdown (photo courtesy of Jojo Ong)

The ten sparklers we blind-tasted, in order, were:

  1. NV Domaine Chandon Brut Classic (Napa Valley>Yountville)
  2. NV Trader Joe’s Blanc de Blancs¬†(California)
  3. NV Mumm Napa Cuvée Napa Brut (Napa Valley)
  4. NV Sarl Chopin Champagne Charles de Marques Brut (Champagne)
  5. NV La Marca Prosecco di Conegliano Tiffany Blue Label (Italy>Veneto>Prosecco>Conegliano)
  6. NV Nicolas Feuilatte Champagne (Champagne)
  7. NV Gloria Ferrer Brut (Sonoma County)
  8. 2007 Domaine Carneros Brut (Napa Valley>Carneros)
  9. NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (Napa Valley)
  10. NV Christa Sparkling White Wine (Targovishte, Bulgaria)

PPWTC 2nd Anniversary Photo (photo courtesy of Jojo Ong)

The winner with an average score of 89.6 point is….

NV La Marca Prosecco di Conegliano Tiffany Blue Label

No surprise here for me. ¬†Prosecco is fruity and easy, and this one is very good! ¬†Around $12. Here’s a tasting note from the La Marca website:

This sparkling wine is pale, golden straw in color. Bubbles are full textured and
persistent. On the nose the wine brings fresh citrus with hints of honey and white floral
notes. The flavor is fresh and clean, with ripe citrus, lemon, green apple, and touches of
grapefruit, minerality, and some toast. The finish is light, refreshing, and crisp

It’s widely available…pick up a bottle and give it a try! Cheers!

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut

This week’s sparkler is a Cr√©mant (Pronounced “Creh-MAHN)¬†from Loire France, specifically Saumur, which is produces the most sparkling wine in France outside of Champagne. ¬†Cr√©mant is produced using the same techniques used in Champagne, but can’t be called Champagne because it isn’t made in the geographic region. ¬†This one is priced like a Prosecco or Cava, but approaches an entry-level Champagne. ¬†Very nice QPR!

Deligeroy Crémant de Loire

NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire 

Region: France> Loire Valley> Crémant de Loire

Variety -  Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc

Residual Sugar – Unknown

$12 РRetail , 12.5% a.b.v.

Production method: Méthode traditionnelle;  Aged an average of 4 years on lees

My tasting notes follow:

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,prickly mousse, and pear, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Medium finish 12.5% ABV. A Blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc

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.  I enjoyed with an impromptu salad my wife threw together of romaine lettuce, grilled asparagus, chopped egg, and avocado, dressed with Creamy Garlic Horseradish Dip.  And later with an avocado, sea salt, and salsa.  It was an excellent pairing with the sparkler matching the creaminess, and the diversity of the food, and the food making the Crémant taste better!

This is a very good sparkler, and compares favorably with entry-level Champagne. I recommend!  87pts   (Click here to find this wine) Wine tasted 2/24/12.