Sparkling Wine

WBW 74 Wrap-up: 39 Sparkling Values

by Tim Elliott on February 18, 2012

This is my fifth time hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday, our monthly virtual tasting event, but my enthusiasm has not diminished with the passage of time. In fact, since bringing back the event from hiatus it looks like the idea might be picking up some steam judging from the entires this month. While many of the bloggers are new, some of the WBW stalwarts from the past also returned.

The first post came in a week early from Dave at Toledo Wines and Vines. His choice of a Louis Bouillot Crement de Bourgogne ($18) in celebration of the New York Giants Superbowl win got the tasting off to a fine start.

Another early entry was posted by Jasmine at the Knitting 40 shades of green blog. It’s aways good to see a new perspective from outside the wine blog circle on WBW and Jasmine did not disappoint with a nice review of Barboursville Brut ($17) from Virginia.

Roddy from Sentir le Bouchon! in the UK was next with non-vintage Condesa Blanca Cava (£7/$11) which he enjoyed quite a bit.

Next was the VA Wine Diva reviewing not a wine from her home state but the always dependable Gruet Winery non-vintage blanc de noirs ($15).

Alleigh from A Glass After Work was the second to blog a sparkler from Gruet Winery, their non-vintage Brut ($14). From her review it looks like this will not be the last bottle from this reliable New Mexico producer.

Wine Blogging Wednesday founder Lenn Thompson from New York Cork Report was next with a review of Happy Bitch Wines “Happy Bitch” NV Rose ($12.50). This wine is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes region of New York with a bit of sparkle added.

Next to post was Xandria from the BrixChicks blog, the first of three there (thanks Ladies!). She selected a Jean-Louis Denois Brut “Tradition” ($15) from France’s Languedoc. From her review, this K&L exclusive seems like a no-brainer for Bay Area or online value seekers.

The first multi-bottle entry was next from Ben at Colorado Wine Press. First of the three wines tasted was Gruet Winery Brut Rosé ($15) which was preferred over the others. Next up was Trevisiol Prosecco, Extra Dry which didn’t impress. The final wine as Domaine Chandon, Brut Classic which fared better than the Prosecco but didn’t measure up to the New Mexico sparkler.

Girl Meets Glass was next with Fleuraison Blanc de Blancs ($12). Made from Spanish base wine, it is trucked north to the Languedoc where secondary fermentation and bottling takes place. The resulting wine is delicate and might be best used for sparkling wine cocktails.

Next was Bob at 2001 Bottles – A Wine Odyssey who posted a lengthy article covering the non-vintage Evans & Tate “Zamphire” ($21) from Australia and 8th Generation “Confidence” 2010 ($22.50) from Canada’s British Columbia province. While both wines used the bulk process to add the bubbles, BC’s Confidence proved the winner in the flavor department.

Lisa from Wine Muse was next with Pizzini Brachetto 2010 ($17) a Muscato-like sparkler made from the Brachetto grape in the state of Victoria in Australia. The off-dry frizzante-style rose was a hit.

Liza from BrixChicks posted a review of the reliable Napa Valley sparkling wine from Mumm, their Napa Cuvee M ($18). The wine is another winner from this respected Champagne house who has been making sparkling wine in California for 26 years.

Thea from Luscious Lushes was next with a trio of sparklers from California and New Zealand. First up was Trader Joe’s non-vintage North Coast Sparkling Wine ($10) which sounded pretty nice for the price. Next she reviewed the reliable sparking standby from Roederer Estate ($17). And finally tasted Quartz Reef Method Traditionalle NV ($22) from New Zealand. Going for extra credit, Thea blogs another 3 wines in the honorable mention category from Mumm Napa ($15), Gruet ($14) and Gloria Ferrer ($16).

My post was next with another Trader Joe’s exclusive their Albero Brut Cava ($8) which I though was a good crowd pleaser for any celebration.

Shannon from Grape Occasions reviewed the trendy Villa Jolanda Moscato Rosé ($10) and was pleasantly surprised by the off-dry sparkler.

Posting next was Michael from Undertaking Wine with a Long Island selection, the Palmer Vineyards non-vintage Special Reserve Brut ($20). And from his review it sounds like another good option for New Yorkers.

The final post of the night was a blow-out by BrixChicks Liza and Heidi who hosted a tasting of 10 sparkling wines. The standouts where the non-vintage Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($14), non-vintage Piper Hiedsieck Champagne Brut ($15) and 2008 Taltarni “Taché” ($20) but check out their entire post for some entertaining tasting notes including aromas reminiscent of Bath and Body Works.

Posting on Wine Blogging Thursday was Gwendolyn from Wine Predator with pairings of 4 wines with various dishes. Although all the wines seemed to work with their dishes, the Trader Joe’s Blason du Bourgogne Brut Rose, Cremant de Bourgogne ($12) seemed like best wine of the quartet.

Update (I missed a post): The Wine Compass blog posted a review of Yellow Tail Bubbles ($10) which was deemed a good value.

So that concludes the seventy-fourth edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. Overall, 19 bloggers tasted 39 wines from 8 countries. With only a few repeats there are over 30 solid choices for everyday sparkling wine.

Next month look for Joe from 1WineDude to take Wine Blogging Wednesday in a totally different direction which he will announce early next week.

WBW 74 by the numbers

Bloggers: 19
Wines Tasted: 39
Countries Represented: 8
Least Expensive: $8 – Albero Brut Cava
Most Expensive: $22.50 – 8th Generation “Confidence” 2010

WBW 74: Value Sparkling Wine

by Tim Elliott on February 15, 2012

Sparkling wine is thought of by most American’s as a luxury to be consumed on special occasions like weddings, graduations and New Year’s eve parties. And that’s a shame since sparkling wine is so versatile at the table, pairing with a wide variety of food, made all over the world and available at every price point. Perhaps it’s just too difficult for most wine consumers to get their heads around this wine as the best examples tend to be delicate and acidic with yeasty minerality that takes some getting used to. But the rewards are worth the effort to really get to know, and love, sparkling wine as it brightens up even the most challenging day.

This is the 5th time I’ve hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday and I’d like to write my theme was calculated to take advantage of the bubbly consumed yesterday for Valentine’s Day. It actually had more to do with my desire to find some new values in sparkling wine to enjoy this spring and summer where I intend to drink (and blog) a bottle each week. I chose the $25 price point to keep the wine selections inclusive of the entire world knowing this might be a challenge, but doable, even in Champagne. But it was the under $10 price point that most interested me since this means “everyday” to most of us.

Albero Brut CavaSo my search took me to Trader Joe’s, the value grocery store that has a reputation as a decent place to find wine values. While TJ’s might not deliver great wine values since they became the house of Two Buck Chuck, their sparking wine selection is still pretty solid. So after looking at their Crement de Bourgogne choices I have had, and enjoyed before, I picked up a Cava for just $7.99 as my choice tonight.

Albero Brut Cava ($8) is an exclusive of Trader Joe’s here in the U.S. made by Bogedas Iranzo, the oldest Spanish winery dating back some 677 years. Before you think Christoper Columbus drank sparkling wine from this estate, a quick aside to the history of bubbly.

Although wine with bubbles has existed since antiquity as a by-product of fermentation, it was only until glass blowing technology could withstand the pressure in the bottle before this style really emerged. Counter to the legend that this wine emerged in Champagne from the cellar of monk Dom Pérignon, sparkling wine was actually first made on purpose in Italy in 1622. But it was glass blowing technology developed in England in 1662 that made this country the true founder of sparkling wine almost 80 years before Dom Pérignon first drank “stars”.

Cava is the name given to sparkling wine made in Spain. It mostly comes from the Penedès region in Catalonia, just south of Barcelona. Like in Champagne only certain grapes are allowed in Cava but until recently these have only been native Spanish varieties. Keeping it old school, the Albero Brut Cava is a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

The wine is golden straw color with a medium bead of fine bubbles that dissipate quickly in the glass. It has green apple, stone and baking bread aromas. Bright apple and citrus flavors finishing dry with hint of minerality and nice acidity on the finish. A nice crowd pleasing sparkler at a good price.

11.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆

Thanks go to Wine Blogging Wednesday founder Lenn Thompson for asking me to host again. I’m looking forward to next month already.

Announcing WBW 74: Value Sparkling Wine

by Tim Elliott on January 23, 2012

One of the wine trends from 2011 is the rise of Champagne with American consumers up over 20% from  2010. Another trend was Moscato coming out of nowhere to become nearly an overnight success. This could be in part due to the charms of the lightly sparkling frizzante made from this grape in Italy.

Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile at the table with styles to pair with nearly every dish. From bone dry to sweet, single variety to blend, sparkling wine is something we should all drink more of. And it’s made all over the world using the classic process perfected in Champagne. In Germany it is known as Sekt, Spain calls it Cava, in Portugal it goes by Espumante, and in Italy Spumante covers a lot of ground. But great sparkling wine is also made in the New World with world class wines coming from California, New Mexico and Australia. I even hear some very nice sparkling wine is being made these days in England, the country who started the style back some 400 years ago.

So the theme of Wine Blogging Wednesday 74 is Value Sparkling Wine.

Just pick a sparkling wine from any appellation, made from any grape but make sure it sells for $25 or less a bottle (€20, £16). This should open up a lot of interesting selections, from Crémant de Bourgogne, to Cava, to California & New Mexico sparkling, sparkling Shiraz, to even well chosen grower Champagne. Just post your notes by February 15th and ping me @winecast on Twitter or email me with your link at winecast (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m hoping we can once again circle the virtual wagons and taste some great bubbly.

Join us.

Acacia Vineyard, Brut 1996

by Tim Elliott on January 1, 2007

Acacia Brut Label

Acacia Vineyard is known for their Carneros Pinot Noir and Chardonnay so it’s not a stretch to expect them to try their hand at sparking wine. What is a bit surprising is their preference for long bottle age as this wine, now 10 years of age, is still available in some stores (the winery is selling the 1997 vintage right now). I couldn’t find any information about the percentages of the blend but I’d guess from the taste it’s just a tad to the Chardonnay side with the rest being Pinot Noir and perhaps some Pinot Meunier.

Acacia Vineyard, Brut, Sparkling Wine 1996 ($40) – Golden straw in color with vigorous bubbles. Citrus and fresh bread aromas. Lemon and mineral flavors with a dose of acidity and nuttiness on the finish. Dry and clean but not as complex as expected given it’s age. I’d drink these up if I had any more bottles as I don’t think they will improve.

12% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 86

Buy this wine online