Thursday, December 20, 2012

Celebrate the New Year with Bubbles!




Because bubbles are fantastic with everything.

This time of year, sparkling wine seems most appropriate to me for celebrating the season with family and friends. At my home, we enjoy bubbles year-round. Meals just seem more enjoyable when paired with a bottle of sparkling wine.

The wines I'm reviewing here are not Champagne, they have bubbles, but they are not Champagne. I point this out because people often, mistakenly, call all wines with bubbles "Champagne." Wines with bubbles are generally referred to as “Sparkling Wine.” Because they sparkle. However, there are sparkling wines from other regions of the world with specific regional names, such as: Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy and Crémant d'Alsace from north-eastern France.

Note: Champagne was invented and perfected in Champagne, France. True “Champagne” is only made in the Champagne region of France, using the Méthode Champenoise to create those lovely bubbles. The Champagne winemaking community, under the auspices of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), has developed a comprehensive set of rules and regulations for all wine produced in the region to protect its economic interests.

The following wines are best served chilled, between 40°F and 45°F. Warm bubbles are no fun.

1. Cava: Sparkling wine made in Spain.
Cava in Spain was modeled after Champagne in France. Cava is typically a blend of native Spanish grape varieties. While Cava is made in the Champagne Method, only producers in the Champagne region may use the term “Méthode Champenoise,” so in Spain it is known as the “Método Tradicional” or Traditional Method.

Photo: Lady in Spain Cava - a bright, plastic wrapped bottle.

Review: Paul Cheneau Lady of Spain Brut - Cava
This sparkler was lemony on the nose and palate, pale yellow color with a touch of green, crisp, soft bubbles, honey on the finish, bright on the back sides of my tongue, with a hint of yeast. Of the six wines, this was the most “Champagne” like of the bunch. Recommended.

Aged in bottle for 12-15 months.
Grape Varieties: 45% Macabeo, 40% Xarello, 15% Parellada.
Appellation: D.O. Cava (Penedès)
ABV: 12%
Sample provided by: Pasternak Wine Imports www.pasternakwine.com

Giro Ribot is a family owned and operated producer of Cava. They are closely tied to the Penedès region by several generations of wine, Cava and spirit producers. They developed the Paul Cheneau line of Spanish sparkling Cavas. The “Lady of Spain” is a tribute to the elegant ladies of Bacelona's art nouveau cafes and cava bars. Giró Ribot is situated at the heart of the Appellation d'Origine Penedès. In the area of Catalonnia, halfway between the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona, bordered to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the north by Montserrat.

2. Crémant d'Alsace: Sparkling wine made in north-eastern France.
Crémant d'Alsace is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for sparkling wines made in the Alsace wine region of France. Produced since 1900, the Crémant d'Alsace AOC was recognized in 1976 by the INAO and the designation Crémant regulated by the European Parliament in 1996. Allowed varieties are limited to riesling, pinot blanc, pinot noir, pinot gris, auxerrois blanc and chardonnay. For rosé wines, only pinot noir is allowed.

Photo: Blanc de Blancs Cremant d'Alsace Brut by Lucien Albrecht.

Review: Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blancs Cremant d'Alsace Brut
Straw color, with almost lemon on the nose, tight, fun bubbles, crisp, light apple and pear flavors, clean and refreshing, a touch creamy on the finish. Good any time sparkler. Makes a tasty Mimosa too. We enjoyed this wine with brunch. Recommended.

Hand picked grapes.
Varieties: 100% Pinot Blanc.
ABV: 12%
Sample provided by: Pasternak Wine Imports www.pasternakwine.com

Photo: Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose.

Review: Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose
Orange-pink color. Foaming bubbles, good mouth feel, cherry, apple and rose water flavors, clean almost watermelon with melon finish. Party time! I enjoyed with braised beef. Recommended.

Whole cluster hand picked grapes.
Softly pressed.
After second fermentation in bottle, lee aging for 9 months.
Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
ABV: 12%
Sample provided by: Pasternak Wine Imports www.pasternakwine.com

The history of the ALBRECHT family as winegrower can be traced back to 1425 with Romanu Albrecht, who was settled in the town of Thann. During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, in Thann several generations of Albrecht were elected as Bangard vinegrowers. Lucien Albrecht, Jean's father, pioneered Crémant production in 1971 and helped gain an Appellation Contrôlêe for the wine and for Alsace. The wines are vinified in the classic Champagne Method from 100% free run juice.

Lucien Albrecht
9, Grand'rue • 68500 Orschwihr-France •
Tel. +33 3 89 76 95 18 • Fax +33 3 89 76 20 22
lucien.albrecht@wanadoo.fr
http://www.lucien-albrecht.com/index-gb.htm

3. Prosecco: Sparkling wine made in Italy.
Prosecco is an Italian sparkling dry white wine made primarily from Glera grapes. Principally grown in the Prosecco region of Italy, which includes Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of Venice in the Vento region. Under European law, only sparkling wines made with grapes grown in this region can have the name Prosecco.

Photo: Valdo Prosecco Brut.

Review: Valdo Prosecco Brut DOC
Pale yellow-green color. Lovely flavors of Asian pear, friendly fine bubbles, almost like sea foam, crisp and dry. Very tasty and enjoyable. Recommended.

Varietal: Glera 100%
Grapes were handpicked.
Soft pressed, fermentation in temperature controlled stainless tanks.
Small fine bubbles “perlage”
Three months Charmat aging plus one month in bottle.
Residual sugar: 12g/l
Acidity: 5.5
ABV:12%
Sample provided by: Pasternak Wine Imports www.pasternakwine.com

Photo: Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut.

Review: Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut
At first taste, crisp citrus and pear, wonderful tight bubbles cascaded brightly over my tongue, honeyed on the finish. Pleasantly tart on my cheeks, zesty finish. Everything a sparkling wine should be. Loved it. Great with fried chicken. Recommended.

Varietal: Glera 100%
Grapes were handpicked.
Soft pressed, fermentation in temperature controlled stainless tanks.
Small fine bubbles “perlage”
Five months Charmat aging, three months in bottle.
ABV: 11.5%
Sample provided by: Pasternak Wine Imports www.pasternakwine.com

Photo: Vlado Rose Brut.

Review: Valdo  Rosé Brut
Crisp raspberry, watermelon, and rhubarb, flavors, tart, with fine fizzy bubbles in the back of my mouth. Pleasing red fruit finish along the edges of my tongue. Some spice front palate. As good as it was with fried steak, this my friends would be spectacular with Sunday brunch, smoked salmon, eggs Benedict, fresh fruit plate, greek yoghurt, toasted bagels, french toast, thick cut bacon. Thai fusion would be a fantastic choice to pair with this sparkler too, I must be hungry. Fun and food worthy. Recommended.

This wine is a blend of two typical Italian vines: Sicilian black berry Nerello Mascalese, from Sambuca Sicily in the province of Argiento (clay and limestone soils) and Glera, the fruity grapes from the Veneto region in the province of Treviso (alluvial clay). The wine went through Charmant method for 3 months in steel tanks.
ABV: 12%
Sample provided by: Pasternak Wine Imports www.pasternakwine.com

Located in the heart of the Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG production area, the Valdo Winery has been cultivating this unique area for generations.

VALDO Spumanti Srl
via Foro Boario 20
31049 Valdobbiadene (TV)
Italy

There are many delicious sparkling wines produced worldwide. Many of these tasty sparklers are now available at local wine shops and grocery stores. Typically, they are reasonably priced between $8 - $20 and are great sparkling wine alternatives. If you only drink Champagne, then it's time to try something different, Cava, Prosecco and Crémant d'Alsace. With so much variety to choose from, you can select the perfect wine to entertain friends and family.

Cheers!