The Breakfast of Champions
by: Vino Joe
Champagne reigns supreme as the greatest sparkling wine in the world, and only comes from the region of Champagne, France. Everything else made from grapes and bursting with bubbles is technically "sparkling wine,” regardless of what the disrespecting marketers of Korbel and others would have you believe.
Being the best quite naturally comes with a high price tag. However, you don't have to pay Champagne prices to enjoy the effervescence of a sparkling wine. In fact, you can even get a bottle of bubby from France for less than 20 bucks (note I said "bubbly" and not "Champagne").
From the area of the Drôme Valley in Provence -- way, way south of the glorified Champagne region -- comes Jaillance Cuvee Imperiale, a sparkling white wine made from the white Muscat and Clairette grapes. This friendly fizzer has forward floral and ripe fruit aromas, including notes of sweet pear and muscat. The bubbles dance on your palate and deliver super-ripe flavors of bright fresh pear, granny smith apple, and hints of peach and lychee. The fruit flavors are so ripe, it gives the impression of sweetness; however, it finishes almost completely dry and clean. A nice bonus is extremely low alcohol -- about 7%, or slightly higher than beer -- which means you can enjoy this with hot and spicy dishes (however, it also means you'll need to keep pouring glasses to inebriate your date). The mild acidity offers just enough structure to match with simply prepared, white flaky fish, and will wake up bland salads and appetizers. This is one of the few wines you can match successfully with nuclear-hot buffalo wings, cream of asparagus soup, chocolate souffle, and waffles with maple syrup…though I wouldn't try all in one sitting.
So the next time you want to impress your date with a bottle of bubbly from France -- but don't have the ducats to go Major League -- pop the cork of a bottle of Jaillance sparkling wine. It's a suitable breakfast wine, a crowd pleaser, it carries an impressive label from France, and only the snobs will realize it's not really Champagne (though after tasting it, they won't care where it comes from).
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