Many of you might not know that my personal motto is: “If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter!”
Luckily, just about every wine making region makes sparkling wines that are far more affordable than champagne
There is not a lot to explore in that statement. I love sparkling wines. So much so that about 15% of my cellar is sparkling wines. That might not sound like all that much until you do the math.
I have just south of 200 bottles of sparkling wines.
Certainly, there are countless still wines that “matter” but when given the choice between a sparkling wine and a still wine, I will choose the sparkler almost every time. Why? Well, besides the fact that sparkling wines are fun to open, they are also incredibly versatile wines due to their levels of acidity. While many people see sparkling wines strictly as celebratory wines or as an apéritif (the acidity helps to whet the appetite), I argue that they merit being on the table almost every night. While champagne has earned its claim as the pinnacle of sparkling wines, the steadily increasing cost of champagne precludes it from being a daily delight (at least for me).
So you can imagine my delight when I received several sparkling wines as samples a few weeks ago.
N.V. Vino dei Fratelli Prosecco Spumante: Retail $18. I have been drinking a lot more Prosecco recently, and I think I am finally coming around to it. For a while I eschewed Prosecco simply because it was not champagne, but as champagne continues to get more expensive, Prosecco seems to be getting better (and is much more wallet friendly). This wine was rather closed on the nose, but there was apple and hazelnut on the palate. A bit of sweetness, that characterizes many Proseccos (but with which I am not all that enamored). Not as effervescent as a métode traditonnelle (the way champagne is made), but enough to tickle the tonsils. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
N.V. Cachette Blanc de Blancs Brut: Retail $15. Even though it does not say so anywhere on the bottle, this wine, which is 100% Airen, comes from Burgundy. It is made using the Charmat method (as is Prosecco), but this has a bit more sparkle to it than most Proseccos. Dark golden color, with a nutty melon nose with a bit of an oxidative note (that I actually like). This is not all that complex, but I liked it. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2012 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose: Retail $24. 53% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinotage, 2% Pinot Meunier. Looking at the composition, this is clearly a Blanc de Noirs, but is not labeled as such. Simonsig is one of the larger producers in Stellenbosch, South Africa, with the production of this Cap Classique (the same method as champagne) right around 10,000 cases. It does have a beautiful pale salmon color, and has one of the more vibrant sparkles I have seen in a while. A great floral quality is immediately evident, followed by strawberries and a bit of citrus. After the initial wave of bubbles, the strawberry comes through, as does some orange peel on the finish. Speaking of that finish, it is rather long and entirely pleasant. At this price? This is certainly a viable choice for an every day sparkler. Very Good to Outstanding even. 88-90 Points.
N.V. Vallformosa Cava Clasic Brut: Retail $17. 40% Xarel-lo, 30% Macabeo, 30% Parallada. I do not drink a whole bunch of Cava. I love champagne, of course, but when I am looking for an inexpensive alternative, I usually look for a Crémant (d’Alsace, de Loire, or de Bourgogne) or a domestic sparkler. I have not had all that much success with Cava as I find them a bit out of balance and overly nutty. Not this one. The Vallformosa has some nice bright flavors of stone fruit (peach, apricot) and a balanced acidity that makes this a delight to drink. This easily convinced me of the need to drink more Cava. Very Good, perhaps more. 87-89 Points.
N.V. Gustave Lorentz Crémant de Loire: Retail $28. 33% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Blanc, 33% Pinot Noir. OK, I will not lie, this was the wine I was looking forward to the most. I consider Alsace my second home, having studied there in college. As I mentioned above, I have a particular affinity for sparkling wines from Alsace. A classic Alsatian crémant with citrus, a tiny bits of caramel and funk. The acidity is up front and brackets the fruit, and the finish lingers from the tip to all the way to the back of the tongue. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.