Reconsidering sparkling wine
Sparkling wine has a perception problem. Most people I speak with like sparkling wine, some even profess to love it. But then, when I ask the last time they consumed some, I often get a blank stare and finally the answer -- New Year's Eve. There's nothing wrong with consuming sparklers on New Year's Eve and during other celebrations, but there are so many other times that it's appropriate. Most importantly, the right sparkling wines pair quite well with food. Even if you're not ready to pour it as an accompaniment to the main course of a meal, there's no reason not to use it as either a welcome wine when guests arrive or alongside appetizers. This time out, I'm taking a look at three sparkling wines that I found offer lots of satisfying drinking, pair well with food, and represent good or great values.
The first wine today is the Bagrationi 1882 Classic Brut. This wine was produced using Chinebuli, Mtsvane and Tsitska -- varietals native to the country of Georgia. This sparkling wine was produced using the Charmat method that includes fermentation at low temperatures with select yeast strains. It's followed by fermentation in pressure vessels. This wine has a suggested retail price of $13.99.
Melon and citrus aromas are joined by subtle hints of ginger in the appealing nose of this wine. The palate has continued melon fruit characteristics in droves, and a ton of zingy spices that keep reverberating on the tongue and back of the throat. These flavors lead to a touch of yeast and flaky biscuit on the finish. Overall, this wine has solid structure and more than sufficient complexity for its $13.99 price point. This wine will pair well with appetizers, dessert or lighter main courses.
The second wine is the Mumm Napa Brute Rosé. The fruit for this wine was sourced in Napa Valley from up to 20 distinct vineyards. This offering is a blend of Pinot Noir (85 percent) and Chardonnay (15 percent). Fermentation took place in stainless steel at low temperatures. A small amount of the Pinot Noir was fermented separately and added to the final blend prior to secondary fermentation. This was done to achieve the desired hue of the wine. After secondary fermentation, the wine was aged on the yeast to add complexity. The suggested retail price for this wine is $24.
Wild strawberry aromas dominate the nose of this Brut Rosé, and a hint of vanilla and an undercurrent of plum also emerge. Crème fraiche, red bing cherry, continued strawberry and white pepper all play pivotal and delicious roles throughout the palate of this wine. As things head toward the finish, nutmeg emerges, along with echoes of cream scone and a gentle hint of butter. These work well alongside the red and dark fruit flavors that continue to rumble through and provide lots of flavor and pleasure. The finish on this Brut Rosé is impressively lengthy and shows some good bite. All of the flavor components come together in the finish and cling to the back of the throat as they linger and linger. This wine is nice on its own, but it really excels with food, and a wide array at that.
The third wine is the Biltmore Estate 2006 Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs. This wine was produced from fruit sourced at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. This offering is 100% percent Chardonnay. Fermentation was temperature controlled, followed by a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This wine was aged for 24 to 30 months before disgorging. It has a suggested retail price of $35.
Citrus, melon, hazelnut, tropical fruit and a touch of ginger are all present in the nose of this 2006 vintage wine. The palate is spicy and fruity, as well as remarkably fresh and lively. The fruit flavors are dominated by tropical and citrus flavors; continued melon makes its presence known to a lesser degree. The finish has touches of yeasty brioche, cream and a continued persistent host of spices. This wine has good length and impressive structure. It has the feel of a wine that should, and could, be paired with a regal meal. If you want to knock out your friends, serve this at the end of a nice meal with a cheese and fruit course.
Many folks only think of Champagne when sparkling wine comes to mind. There's nothing wrong with a nice bottle of Champagne, but it's a luxury not everyone can always afford. These three wines, from a trio of different regions, represent well-made sparklers that provide a lot of pleasure for very fair prices. I know that as time has gone on I've personally made an effort to drink sparkling wine far more often than I used to. Instead of waiting for a special occasion, I let the wine itself become the occasion. This seems to lead to good times more often. I highly recommend you give it a shot.