T.G.I.F. Bubbly; Jean-Louis Denois Limoux Brut Rosé

Over the past couple of years I’ve been blogging about sparkling wines. For a time I blogged about a different sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  I’ve gotten away from it in recent months, not because I stopped drinking sparkling wines (I still drink bubbly on pretty much a weekly basis; they’re underrated food friendly wines and, for me, can easily make an otherwise ordinary day, just a little extraordinary.  I don’t wait for a special occasion and neither should you!), but rather because after a year and a half of trying a bunch-o sparkling wines from around the world, I’ve found many I enjoy that have become repeat purchases.  So it’s been a minute since I blogged about a sparkling wine I haven’t tried before.  That brings me to this week’s sparkling wine,  Jean-Louis Denois Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, a Crémant from Southern France.

This sparkling wine hails from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is considered by many to be to one of the most exciting and innovative in France.  It is also widely reputed to be among the most exciting for “bang for the buck” wines in France, especially for sparkling wines from the Limoux.  I’ve found several sparkling wines (known as Crémant when it’s produced using the same method using for making Champagne, but not made in the Champagne region of France).  It’s a “go-to” region for everyday sparkling wines from France for me.

The producer of this wine, Jean-Louis Denois is a sixth generation wine producer from Champagne, that has brought his experience and expertise to the sparkling wines of Limoux. His vineyards sit at the foot of the Pyrenees, and include red, white and sparkling wines, all made from low-yielding vines, vinified with as little interference as possible.

This is my third wine from Jean-Louis Denois.  The Brut Tradition is a perennial favorite sparkling wine for under $20, and last year I bought the 2008 Jean-Louis Denois Vin de Pays d’Oc Les Garrigues, a killer blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec that at $8 had off the chart QPR (easily the best $8 wine I’ve had)!

Jean louis denois rose

My tasting notes follow:

Salmon color with a persistent stream of tiny, but dispersed bubbles and faint red fruit aromas. On the palate, it shows a creamy mousse, lively acidity, and strawberry, cherry, and mineral flavors.  Medium finish – 87pts

Rating: Recommended – Sparkling Rosé tends to be priced at a premium, and it’s rare to find one made from 100% Pinot Noir, especially at this price point.  This wine is a great value and will be a repeat purchase for me!

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one works well as an aperitif, and with food.   This would be a great wine for your Holiday dinner, veggie pizza, or Bahn Mi!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Wine purchased for review

Related posts you might enjoy:

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‘s The Wine Bible:

…crémant 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.

Crémant is French for “creamy”.  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’t be called champagne and no reference can be made to that region.  For example, Crémant de Limoux, or Crémant 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 crémant 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 crémant 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…NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut

This week’s sparkler is a Crémant (Pronounced “Creh-MAHN) from Loire France, specifically Saumur, which is produces the most sparkling wine in France outside of Champagne.  Crémant 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: FranceLoire ValleyCrémant de Loire

Variety -  Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc

Residual Sugar – Unknown

$12 – Retail , 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.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Charles Baur Crémant d’Alsace Rosé

This week’s sparkler is from Alsace region of  France.  Alsace is located on France’s eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland.  The region definitely has Germanic influences.  It is most well-known for it still white wines including Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc.  This sparkler is 100% Pinot Noir which represents about 10% of the regions plantings.

When one thinks of French sparkling wines, of course Champagne is top of mind , but sparkling wine is made in many regions of France, including Alsace,  using the same techniques deployed in Champagne.  When it’s not specifically made in the Champagne region, it’s referred to as Crémant.

The Crémant d’Alsace AOC was established in 1976.  Crémant d’Alsace is the market leader in at-home sales for sparkling wines in France.  The vast majority of the wines are exported to Belgium and Germany.

This wine is first vinified as a dry Rosé, and then undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. According to the Baur website…“Armand Baur makes one batch a year so this is effectively a vintage sparkling wine, though it is not noted on the label, as vintage sparkling wines are required to age in the cellars for at least 3 yrs before release“. This wine was aged for 2 yrs, thus the non-vintage (“NV”) designation.

NV Charles Baur Cremant d’Alsace Rosé

NV Charles Baur Crémant d’Alsace Rosé

Region: France>Alsace>Crémant d’Alsace

Variety – 100% Pinot Noir

Dosage – Unknown; Brut Style

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Aged for 12 months on less

Alcohol by volume: 12%

Cost: $20

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Pretty light salmon color with small dispersed bubbles

Aromas: Brioche, and sweet red fruit of strawberries and raspberries

Body:  On the palate a somewhat creamy mousse, between light and medium bodied, dry with zippy acidity.

Taste: Strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and a hint of citrus rind, and mineral flavors

Finish: Short-medium finish

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods.  This one would be a good aperitif, and also pair with nicely with a variety of foods.  I enjoyed it with a Filipino dish, Chicken Afritada, a tomato-based stew introduced to the Philippines by Spaniards.

This is an elegant, very nice Rosé sparkler.  It’s a very good value for under $20.  I recommend!

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