Showing posts with label Sparkling wines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sparkling wines. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Grand Sparkler and a Little Scamp!

A Grand Sparkler and a Little Scamp!
Meyer-Fonné Crémant d’Alsace (AOC) Brut Extra NV, 12%, €26.85, Le Caveau
Crémant is the term for any French sparkling wine produced by the méthode traditionnelle, outside of the Champagne region. Subject to similar rigid guidelines, Crémant d’Alsace is produced at the highest level of quality, but available at a fraction of the cost. The Alsace version scores well on quality and price and Crémant d’Alsace is a top-seller in France.

This blend, imported by Le Caveau, uses Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. It is champagne in everything but name and price. These organic bubbles will grace any celebration, from a wedding to the sun coming out in these parts.
Dry and tangy and then a wave of ripe apple flavours that goes all the way to a tingling finish. This is a serious and distinguished wine, with appealing aromatics, well balanced with lip smacking acidity. This won't let you or your guests down and is Very Highly Recommended.
Terra di Pietra Piccola Peste Valpolicella (DOC) 2015, 12%, €18.95 Le Caveau
Here, technology has little influence: “..what’s needed are hands, nose, heart and passion, every day.” Farming is organic, conversion started in 2011. The blend is mainly Corvina and Corvinone, with some Rondinella and Molinara. The label is drawn by the children of wine-maker Laura Albertini, a young mother who tragically died earlier this year.
The colour is a pale to medium ruby. Fairly straight-forward cherry aromas. Straight-up cherry too on the palate, nice acidity to balance. And, a tip from the importers: “..despite being light-bodied, when aerated for a while, this shows surprising depth.” Yes indeed. And a decent finish too. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Three Fine Bubbles to Ring in the New Year.

Three Fine Bubbles
To Ring in the New Year

Champagne can be expensive, sometimes very expensive indeed. But there are some excellent alternatives out there at more attractive prices. And I’m not talking Cava or Prosecco here. The three below come from France, Germany and England. And one, the Saint Hilaire, was being made a hundred years before champagne and indeed I’ve read that Dom Perignon may well have learned a trick or two here. Don’t know how much truth is in that one.
Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux brut 2010 (Languedoc-Roussillon, France), 12%, €23.35 Karwig Wines

This is France’s oldest sparkling wine, produced by the Methode Traditionnelle where it is naturally fermented in the bottle. It was first created by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint Hilaire over 450 years ago. Written records survive from 1531. The abbey is 25 miles south of Carcassonne.

The main grape in the blend is the Mauzac which is called Blanquette locally. This accounts for ninety per cent of the mix with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay also used (up to a maximum of ten per cent). White fruits (peaches, apples) feature in the aromas. The palate is fresh and fruity, rather intense in flavour with no shortage of fine bubbles, persistently on the up. This is real bubbles. Think non-vintage champagne at a fraction of the price! Very Highly Recommended.

Furst von Metternich Riesling Sekt  (Rheingau, Germany), 12.5%, €23.50, Karwig Wines

Riesling, believe it or not, is the grape here, one hundred per cent, displaying its amazing versatility in a rather elegant wine, “a wine for special moments”. You’ll note the fountain of extremely fine bubbles, always a good sign, rising through the pale yellow colour. This is a serious sparkling wine, with a fresh fruitiness (peach and tangerine), and again Very Highly Recommended.

Not sure that Karwig Wines carry them but the producers also do a sparkling Chardonnay and a sparkling Rose made from Pinot Noir.

This German winery also has quite a history, over 300 years, though their sparkling is more recent, dating from the mid 19th century, the current brand from the 1920s. The Schloss Johannisberg headquarters was destroyed in a 1942 bombardment and rebuilt by 1965.

Dermot (left), pictured with wine writer John Wilson
and Simon Tyrell (right)

Wiston Estate Blancs de Blancs NV (South Downs, England), 12%, €53.00 Le Caveau

The Wiston Estate has little by way of wine history but the South of England has in a few decades carved out quite a niche for itself in the high end of sparkling wine and one of its leading men is Dermot Sugrue from County Limerick, the winemaker at Wiston. Amazingly, the first Wiston Vines were not planted until 2006 and the first grapes picked in 2008. There are now 16ha of vines planted on the chalk slopes (same chalk as Champagne).

I won this rather expensive bottle at a pre-Christmas dinner raffle and I am keeping it for the big night - not long now! I’ve tasted it before and it is a notably agreeable companion!  

This Blanc de Blancs NV has been voted the best in England and Dermot himself told us all about it. “It has a sense of richness that belies its youth. It is one hundred per cent Chardonnay, mostly 2011 plus reserve from 2010 and has spent 18 months on its lees.” It has indeed a delicious palate, a depth of flavour with excellent balance, bubbling all the way with finesse and elegance. Again, Very Highly Recommended. Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End

No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End
There is no shortage of sparkling wine to see out the old year and to welcome the new, anything from an expensive champagne such as Krug to the inexpensive Prosecco below. The big selection gives you a good chance to get one to suit both your palate and budget.

Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut, €20.00 at SuperValu
Cava Brut Barcino, €12.00 at Supervalu
Griffon Prosecco Frizzante, €9.00 at SuperValu

These are just three from the SuperValu range. The champagne itself was put to the test here on Christmas Day and went down very well indeed. It certainly has got the usual characteristics, is crisp and well balanced and runs out quickly!

The Cava stood into the breach then and you'd hardly notice. No shortage of small bubbles here, the typical breaded nose and again fresh and zesty. Just the job at about half the price.

Prosecco has made a huge impact, not always good, on the sparkling wine scene and this friendly Frizzante is but one of many on the market. It is made in a different way with the secondary fermentation taking place in a bulk tank rather than in the individual bottle, hence the twine on the cork, rather than the more usual more robust arrangement! It is less expensive to produce than Spumante which undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. Don't delay too long with your glass of Frizzante as the bubbles don't hang around.

Carl Jung Sparkling White (de-alcoholised), €5.99 widely available
Superquinn; Dunnes Stores; Joyce's of Galway; Molloy's Off-Licences, Dublin; O'Brien's; Next Door Off-Licences; Supervalu nationwide; and good independent off-licences nationwide

With a few drivers among those calling to the house at Christmas, I thought this Carl Jung might come in handy. It sure did and drew a few compliments as well, showing that sparkling celebrations may be enjoyed without the alcohol. Actually, there is quite an intense rush of bubbles and no shortage of fruit in the palate. 


Oh, by the way, if someone says he’d prefer to drink tea, you can keep the sparkle going by offering him a glass of Mariko. Cheers!

Bouvet Saphir Saumur Brut 2011

No doubt that Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are the big three in sparkling wine. But there are many more from all over the world. We enjoyed a white and a rosé from Cono Sur during the recent blogging competition final in Paris and, speaking of France, the country produces well over twenty such wines aside from the well known champagne.  This is one of them, from the Loire and made in the same way as Champagne (méthode traditionnelle). It survived the Christmas and I'm looking forward to opening it on New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to you all.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

From the underground: Death Cap and Sparkling Wines

Day 9
From the underground: Death Cap and Sparkling Wines
A misty morning led to us going underground for this Sunday afternoon. The Death Cap was one of countless mushrooms seen in the underground Musée du Champignons in St Hilaire-St Florent, just outside Saumur, but the first call was to the premises of BouvetLadubay well known around the world for their quality sparkling wines.
Disgorgement machines, the more modern ones!
The visit began with a tour of the underground cellars- it seems virtually every winery hereabouts has conveniently cool cellars adapted from former tuffeau quarries. Temperatures are about 12 degrees, all the time, ideal for wine and mushrooms.
Underground art.
The méthode traditionnelle is used here and we were given examples of the old way of the famous “disgorgement”   and the more modern mechanical time-saving method. 
The tasting line-up
The cellars, in under a local hill, are extensive and impressive and we had glimpses of the lives of the quarry workers and saw how the caverns have been adapted to the wine makers’ use. Bouvet Ladubay, with 460 awards for their wines in the last forty years, is a big name in the world of sparkling wines.
Death Cap (in a glass case!)
We were looking forward to our tasting which was carried out above ground. We had four to taste in all, including an unusual red sparkler, and our favourite was the Decanter bronze medal winner Saphir Brut 2011, fruity and fresh with a nice acidity. A few bottles are on their way back to Ireland, maybe! Might have to return to Saumur for more.
Horse's Mane or Pom Pom growing
A few miles up the road, we came to the fascinating Mushroom Museum. Not just a museum as the underground caves are used to grown many varieties, including some that, thanks to Ballyhoura Mushrooms, we are familiar with. 
Pink Oysters growing. Get them from Ballyhoura Mushrooms at Farmers Markets
Enjoyed strolling through the various mushroom beds and reading the info. There is also a massive museum section there with information and representations, in 3B and photograph, of virtually every mushroom in the world.
More oysters growing, just a different colour
By the way, the sun did come out after lunch and it turned into quite a pleasant afternoon and evening, the only big cloud in the sky on our drive home from Saumur coming from the towers of the local nuclear station.