Posts Tagged ‘sparkling wine’
Time to bring it back home and share thoughts on some of the many great sparkling wines made in California.
There were also some unusual finds here that were very
bottledpoetry.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sparkling-wine.jpg?w=450″ alt=”" width=”189″ height=”199″ />fun to taste. Below are the best of my many nights of tasting: some wines purchased, some media samples. All enjoyed.
Sparkling Wine – Under $35
2009 Windsor Vineyards Blanc de Noir $25 *Top Pick*
A pretty sparkling from Windsor Vineyards. Light pink, salmon color. Nose of strawberry, hint of cherry. Good red fruit, creamy in mouth, with an easy finish. Easy quaffing.A great aperitif. A great sparkling for the price. Their Brut is also very enjoyable, bright acid, green apple.
Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee 2007 $32 *Top Pick*
An incredible Blanc de Noir, made from 88% Pinot Noir, 12% Chardonnay. Essence of strawberries, creamy rich mouthfeel. Iron Horse consistently makes some of the best sparkling wines in Russian River Valley, and this carries the torch well.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Non Vintage $20
My house bubbles. Widely available, often a discount, regularly an award winner. A consistent winner that delivers: green apple, bread yeast, citrus. Yum.
J. Keverson ‘Bubbles for Boobies’ Brut, Non Vintage $20
Whats not to like about sparkling wine that is for boobies. Dark yellow straw color, pear, lemon. Crisp in mouth. Begs for some oysters.
50% of the proceeds from the sale of Bubbles for Boobies Brut is donated to fight breast cancer. 60% Chardonnay from Mendocino, 40% Pinot Noir form Carneros. Drink some bubbles, help a worthy cause.
Sparkling Wine – The Unusual
While most domestic sparkling is made from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, we do find the occasional deviation. These require an open mind, and can be fun.
Amista Vineyards Syrah Rose’ (Non Vintage)
I had this the very first year it was released, and just recently tasted the new vintage, which is now lower in alcohol and color. (A plus.) It’s a fun wine, made from Syrah rose’, not that dark purple sweet sparkling shiraz the Aussies make. The new vintage has a nice red fruit, cherry and strawberry.
Harvest Moon Sparkling Gewürztraminer Dry Sparkling $38 *Top Pick*
Randy is a master of working with wines of great acidity, and he takes the difficult task of making a Gewurtz in a sparkling in stride. This is a unique bottle of bubbles is fun. A floral nose as expected, tiny bubbles, citrus and stone fruit. This wine always sells out, grab a bottle if you can.
Harvest Moon Sparkling Zinfandel $38
Another odd duck and even more interesting and complex. Because the zin is from the cool climate Russian River, it pulls off the acidity, and the fruit, picked early as one does for sparkling has interesting notes of spice. A dark red color, reminiscent of sparkling Syrah. Fragrant nose of black cherry & raspberry. Black cherry and black fruit in the mouth with some spice. Good acidity, recommended to pair with food or an aperitif. Get adventurous and try it.
Sparkling Wine Over $35
Thomas George Estates Pinot Noir Amber Block Starr Ridge Estate 2009 $50
My first time tasting sparkling from Thomas George, and given how great their Pinot Noir (and other wines) are, I wasn’t surprised this bar was equally high.
Light salmon pink color, fresh strawberry and bread yeast on nose, strawberry and citrus in mouth, Excellent creamy mouthfeel, lingering finish.
Inman Family Wine – Endless Crush 2009 $50 *Top Pick*
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone this made the list, given it was my wine of the month a few weeks ago. See Winery of The Month, Wine of the Week: Inman Family Wines 2009 Brut Rose Nature “Endless Crush”
Just the slightest tinge of pink. Nose of strawberry, citrus and a hint of bread yeast. Bright in the mouth, great acidity combined with rich texture and mouthfeel, lingering finish and some minerality, this is a unique work of art.
Gloria Ferrer -Carneros Cuvee’ 1999 $50 *Top Pick*
The bottle you love to look at, but can’t stack many of in a cellar. A work of art, the bottle and whats in it. I have the 1999 in my cellar, current release is 2000. (Yes almost 12 years old folks.) Don’t worry the 2000 is great too, Jon Bonne recommended it last month. Elegant. Citrus, pear, creamy. If I could afford it every day, or week I would. Well worth the splurge.
On this (tired) note – we are off to France for a tour of Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. Many changes are afoot for 2012, and taking a quick research jaunt.
Have a Very Happy & Safe New Years, and thanks for reading!
Welcome to the 1st (Hopefully annual) Sparkling line up. It has been a fun, busy lineup to work through. Because of the many bottles received (and not all reviewed) & purchased I decided to divide the summary into two parts, US and Imports.
Noticeably missing from this line up is ‘champagne’ that is to say sparkling wine that orginates from the Champagne region in France. Even the French are not allowed to call it Champagne if its not from Champagne, instead its call Cremant.
The Champagne Bureau in France declined to send or arrange any samples, but did ask that I make it clear to readers:
“Whatever you recommend, please make sure to note that Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”
Done. Now onto some (not so) serious business. I love bubbles, but am hardly a snob when it comes to this category. It should be fun and enjoyable.
I tried to focus on bubbles that were affordable and widely available. Its not really much fun for you the reader to hear about something that isn’t available unless you are wealthy or write for wine publication.
Spain & Cava
Spanish Cava represents a huge value in sparkling wines, and the quality and value will surprise you. This summer I toured through out Spain on a media Tour, visiting a number of Cava producers, including Cava kingpin Freixenet. I was blown away by the care and quality of this producer. Hundreds of tons of cava grapes, all hand picked, each year.
N.V. Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosado – *Top Pick*
A crowd pleaser Cava Brut Rose’, great QPR. Tiny bubbles, excellent mousse. Essence of strawberry, raspberry. Very pleasant in mouth.Grab a bottle, you will
be glad. This is a sleeper brand. ~$10
N.V. Paul Cheneau Cava Lady of Spain
Decent bubbles for price; crisp, nice acidity, green apple $10
N.V. Freixenet Cava Cordon Negro (Brut)
After 150 years, there is a reason why the ‘Black Bottle’ remains the king of Spanish Cava. Despite the large production all grapes are hand harvested, not machine. Clear pale yellow, tiny mousse (bubbles). Nose has lemon, apple, pear. Crisp dry finish with some minerality. If you have shunned the black bottle because its what your parents drank, try it again. And do take the tour if ever nearby, its impressive. $10 (or less)
N.V. Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva Heredad
If the sexy bottle doesn’t get you, the bubbles should. Vibrant pale color, tight tiny bubbles, nose that is yeasty,pear. Bright citrus, green apple. A step or two up in price from traditional Cava, but unique and complex enough to merit it, and a good bridge flavor profile wise. $20
Italy – Prosecco
Prosecco has become a hot sector in the last few years, and duly earned, the quality of Prosecco coming into the US has jumped up. People avoid Prosecco because it is fermented via the charmat method – meaning it achieves its bubbles in a stainless tank, not in the bottle via méthode champenoise. My experience with domestic sparkling produced this way is mostly poor, but I have learned from experience not to shun Prosecco because of this, and you should too.
N.V. Valdo (Italy) – *Top Pick*
New to the US. Nose of pear, green melon, bread yeast. Tiny bubbles. Mostly dry, creamy mouthfeel. Nice finish. An excellent value for $10. Recommended buy. Nice apertif wine easily quaffed.
N.V. LaMarca Prosecco di Treviso Prosecco (Italy, Veneto, Prosecco di Treviso)
Pale yellow, tiny bubbles. Green apple & spice on nose. Mostly dry, Nice citrus, touch of asian pear, green apple. pleasant in mouth, fair QPR. Consumer friendly bubbles, available at Wholefoods, Safeway. Worth putting in the cart and taking home.
N.V. Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé *Top Pick*
Wonderful! Pink with a slight orange hue; excellent tiny bubbles. gorgeous nose of strawberry & yeast. Strawberries & Cream, hint of raspberry. Fermented in bottle; 80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay. ~$18
2007 Domaine Rolet Crémant du Jura Crémant Brut (France, Jura, Crémant du Jura)
A nice bottle of bubbles for $17 from K&L. tiny bubbles, nice citrus, tart green bubbles, nice clean, lingering.
Look for Part II – Domestic later tonight. (Tomorrow we head to France to tour Burgundy & the Rhone). Cheers!
It’s time to bring it back home to Russian River Valley, and feature one of our unsung heroines, Kathleen Inman of Inman Family Wines.
Welcome to our third selection of winery of the month. In keeping with the theme of previous selections, this title is awarded too wineries whose wines have been epiphany experiences (and often still are) and for outstanding contributions to the wine industry, community, and environment.Inman Family Wines, nearby in Russian River Valley, is overdue for this recognition.
Uncompromising Wine Making Philosophy
Kathleen, on her 10th vintage, has come into her own as a world class wine maker, making Pinot Noir (and a few other treats) in styles she believes in. She isn’t into scores or trend chasing, and never relents in her pursuit of wine making the has an expression of place and vintage, with minimal intervention, making the very best wine that she can.
Kathleen has been rewarded by solid steady growth – while many small wineries have decreased production, Inman continues to steadily expand each year, reaching 3400 cases in 2011.
A Trailblazer in Eco-Friendly Practices in The Vineyard & Winery (Eco-Ethics)
Secondly, Kathleen has been repeatedly recognized for her many industry leading accomplishments in sustainability and green practices, both in the vineyard and the winery. Not because they are sexy marketing buzz words, but principles she has believed in, and practiced, long before they became in vogue.
Rather than re-write them all here, they are captured in several documents on the Inman website, drill down a bit, starting here. I challenge you to find a local winery that has invested more per capita in water reclamation, recycled materials, and sustainability. (And an electric car charging staton to boot!)
I should point out as well that while I say Kathleen, who beyond any doubt is the workhorse of this labor of love – there is a family behind the story, as it seems almost necessary to make it as a small winery. Kathleen’s husband Simon, has stood by, supported and thrown in many hand of assistance, on
top of his legal pursuits. Kathleen and Simon have two wonderful daughters they dote on, whom can be found helping out around the tasting room during college semester breaks. One can only hope at least one will eventually get the bug and become second generation. Sadly, I am close to Kathleen’s age, or I’d ask for adoption.
A Foodie At Heart
Kathleen is all about food, and pairing it with wine. Unfortunately ‘food friendly’ has become an overused word in the industry, but Kathleen lives, breathes, and …eats it. Even in the early stages of wine making of a vintage, when doing barrel samples, she is thinking ahead of foods and sauces that will pair well. Her recipes have been published as well as recorded professionally.
You can check out many of her recipes here: http://www.inmanfamilywines.com/Recipes?
This close family and their support of Kathleen’s pursuit is an excellent start for the story behind the wine of the week, the ‘Endless Crush.’ No its not a horror story about the 2011 Harvest that seemed it would never end, but the love story of Kathleen & Simon.
For their 20th wedding Anniversary Kathleen wanted to make a special romantic wine for Simon, and started making a special rose’ every other year. Kathleen being Kathleen, this was of course a true rose’, not a saignee or juice bleed off. That means that grapes that could go into a $50 Pinot Noir, were instead being used for a Rose’ wine, which no matter how wonderful, can’t sell for that price, thus profit is given up for love. Endless Crush rose’ is done every other year, is a wonderful wine that quickly sells out.
For their 25th anniversary, Kathleen wanted to start a new tradition that was extra special. She had been studying closely the various methods of making sparkling wine (we are no longer allowed to call it champagne,) and decided to release a special sparkling brut Rose’, from Pinot Noir.
There are many remarkable things about this sparkling wine. One is that is unusual for California wine is that no sugar in the final ‘dosage’ is added. A dosage is added right before final corking, and has a varying degrees of sugar (thus sweetness) depending on the style. The dosage sweetness can come from a variety of things, including the current vintage sweet juice itself.
In this case Kathleen added 2% of barrel aged 2009 OGV Estate Pinot Noir for added complexity and to tint the wine ever so slightly.
This makes the sparkling wine in line with other Kathleen’s other wines, higher in acidity, making them truly food friendly.
To The Eye: Just the slightest tinge of pink.
One the Nose: Lots of strawberry, citrus and a hint of bread yeast
In The Mouth: I am not a bubbles snob, but my appreciation has definitely grown the last few years, and this is a gem, not a surprise given how much I like Kathleen’s other wines. Bright in the mouth, great acidity combined with rich texture and mouthfeel, lingering finish and some minerality, this is a unique work of art.
Recommendation: An amazing bottle of sparkling, made by a champion of the earth, with a romantic story behind it. Can there be any greater gift?
Food Pairing: Kathleen recommends “The recipe for crab and scallop cakes are a natural with the bubbles”
Happy Holidays & Cheers!
If you’d like your sparkling
wine featured, please submit a sample, no later than Dec 5th.
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Happy Holidays and cheers!
While I most often write about wine and wine events, personally its viticulture and harvest that I geek out the most on. Unfortunately I don’t write a lot about either, usually from time constraints, something I hope to evolve into.
Last year I was fortunate enough to get a multitude of experiences; planting my own small hobby syrah vineyard; volunteer harvest work in every step of harvest and wine making, (save bottling) with great people like C. Donatiello, Hobo Wine Company, and Mounts Family Winery. I also did a home ‘garagista’ project with an ‘naked’ chardonnay, and a sangiovese barolo clone. With luck I will fit some of these in this season, it was easier last season while on sabbatical.
I am thrilled to be spending the next 36 hours with a small group of Wine Writers to attend the private Gloria Ferrer ‘Hands on Harvest.’ Also in our company is a select group of Bay Area Hospitality, Press, Restaurant attendees.
It’s a ‘Hand’s On’ event, but like everything Gloria Ferrer, it’s first class all the way.
Tuesday morning we start bright and early with 6:30 a.m. departure. At 7:00 am we go into harvest training led VP of Vineyard Operations Manager Mike Crumly, who will cover topics like how grapes are grown for wine, berry sampling, and then some actual harvesting of grapes. (I was part of a gringo picking crew last year in Dry Creek that was lapped by the experts!)
The weather will be chilly, so we then warm our stomachs with a traditional Mexican breakfast, followed by a sustainability tour, including Indian middens and Miwok burial site, riparian corridors, bluebird boxes, and ecological history
Before we jump into an 11 a.m. session on soil studies and vineyard practices, we are treated to Hog Island Oysters and bubbly…nourishment for the brain and soul!
At 2 pm we tour winery operations and discuss wine making practices.
We conclude our day with an exciting Industry round table discussion on the latest wine trends, led by VP of Business Development, David Brown.
Thank you in advance, Gloria Ferrer and my about to be Hands On Harvest-eers!