Browsing the archives for the Sparkling tag

Ten for 2010 – Sparkling Wines on a Budget

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News and Events

The economy has effected all of this year in one way or another.  Job losses and pay cuts are commonplace, but that is no reason to stop your next holiday celebration.  We can still embrace the new year and celebrate the promise of a brighter future, even if we find ourselves on a limited budget.

My recommendation this year is to buy domestic!  As much as  I enjoy French Champagne, there are plenty of American sparkling wines that a just as enjoyable at a fraction of the price. Let’s create our own stimulus package by supporting the wineries and vineyards here at home!

The following are ten budget-friendly sparkling wines (all under $25) that will fit in nicely at your next celebration.  Enjoy!

Korbel Brut Rose ($10) – From California’s Russian River Valley, this is a light-tasting and crisp, strawberry-flavored bubbly has just a hint of sweetness.

Gruet Brut Sparkling Wine ($14)- This is one of the more unusual wines on the list. Not because of how it is made or how it tastes, but where it is made – New Mexico!  This brut style sparkler is crisp, and full-bodied with fine bubbles and sophisticated apple and citrus flavors.

Domaine Ste Michelle Non-Vintage Blanc De Blanc ($15) - Blanc de Blancs are made from chardonnay and this one shows it off beautifully, with gorgeous pear and pineapple aromas and crisp green apple flavors.  A very affordable choice from the Columbia Valley in the state of Washington.

Domaine Chandon Brut ($15) - This wine scored highly with both the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator.  It has rich and intense flavors of pear and citrus with a fine texture of crisp bubbles.

Gloria Ferrer Brut ($15) – Listed as one  Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2009, this is a lively sparkler with soft pear and citrus aromas.  Yeasty flavors of apples, spice, and minerals dance on your palate.

Piper Sonoma Brut Non-Vintage ($16)- This brut is crisp and bright, with distinct yeasty character. Packed with rich pear and apple flavors, it has a little more acidity than its peers.  This blend is primarily pinot noir, giving this wine nice body and good aging potential.

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut ($19)- Northern California’s soil and cool climate are well suited for sparkling wine, good reasons for French champagne house, Louis Roederer, to expand operations to the US. Roederer’s style of sparkling wine offers rich apple aromas with hints of yeast and spice.  Complex flavors of vanilla and strawberries are laced with minerals and firm acidity.

Schramsberg “Mirabelle” North Coast Rosé ($20)- One of California’s oldest estates, started in 1862, Schramsberg make numerous styles of sparkling wine.  This rosé sparkler has a delicate pink hue with floral aromas of strawberry and spice. Crisp flavors of raspberries and apples, match well with undertones of toast and creamy vanilla.

2005 Domaine Carneros Brut  ($20)- Domaine Carneros, like Roederer Estate,  is also operated by a famous champagne house, Taittiger.   The brut style sparkling wine is a sophisticated blend of apple and raspberry aromas.  Crisp flavors of lemon and lime finish with lingering notes of yeast and minerals.

J Vineyards“Cuvée 20″ ($22) - Cuvée 20 was made in celebration of J Vineyard’s 20th anniversary.  Aromas of  lemon peel and honeysuckle  fill out the bouquet. Crisp green apple and tart grapefruit flavors are followed with notes of toasty almonds and finishes with a great balance of fruit and acidity.

Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shiraz

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Tasting Note

Several months ago I learned about sparkling shiraz from a friend. The concept seemed interesting, so I filed it away in that dark place somewhere between my ears for future reference. As luck would have it, I spotted a bottle of Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shiraz at the Grapes & Tastes, the new wine shop that just opened in Cedarburg.

Shingleback Winery, in Australia’s McLaren Vale, produces many different wines, but Black Bubbles is their only sparkler. The winemakers at Shingleback blend together several vintages of shiraz to create a fruit-forward wine with relative complexity.

I brought this bottle to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, where we enjoyed it as an aperitif. The first thing we noticed were the aromas of blackberries carried by the bubbles. The bubbles weren’t quite black, but definitely on the deep purple side of the spectrum. Very ripe, sweet flavors of blackberries and currants balanced well with its mild acidity. The spicy character and soft tannins of the shiraz really came through in the finish. Make sure to keep it well chilled. We noticed the flavors begin to fall flat as it warms up.

Not bad for the first sparkling shiraz I’ve tried. This is an easy drinking wine, perfect for a summer barbecue or a nice pairing to a sweet chocolate dessert.

Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shiraz ($30) 

Banfi – Rosa Regale 2007

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Tasting Note

I learned of this interesting sparkler on a Wine for Newbies podcast. It was suggested that Brachetto d’Acqui pairs well with chocolate, not an easy feat with wine. A rich ruby or tawny port are the usual suspects when it comes to pairing wine with chocolate.

Sue’s brother, Chris is in from New York and they have prepared their family favorite, Dobos Torte, a very rich and decadent dessert. Just looking at it raises my cholesterol 10 points!

We chilled the wine during dinner. Before dessert we popped the cork and were greeted with fragrances of roses and raspberries. The dark rosé color reminded me a little of cranberry juice, Flavors of fresh, red fruit and light acidity greeted the palette and followed up with a short, clean finish. Very refreshing! Personally I found the Brachetto d’Acqui to be a little too sweet for this dessert. I think I would prefer it as a standalone aperitif or as a partner to a darker, more bitter chocolate.

Banfi – Rosa Regale 2007 ($17)