“A Good Friend And A Glass Of Bubbly” this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


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W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

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WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© special fan of 2012, my Granddaughter Elle Marie

Happy New Years and welcome to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this Sunday morning.  Out with the old and in with the new, that’s today’s agenda and with that I had the pleasure of sitting down with a special friend who has been a pioneer throughout his career.   Earl Sherron founder of Earl’s Distributing in Missoula, Montana joined me this week on the radio show to share his insight about Champagne and Sparkling wine. 

Earl Sherron

Earl Sherron

Earl is a man of integrity, wisdom, and experience and he gave me the opportunity to become involved in the wine industry some fifteen years ago.  He has been a mentor, an inspiration and source of encouragement every since.

A little bit about Earl Sherron:

Earl Sherron was the youngest beverage distributor in the state of Montana when he created Earl’s distributing in Missoula in 1968.

 At the time the company only represented two brands of beer–Great Falls Select and the Olympia brewing company. Earl’s continued to grow as it acquired many more brands of beer throughout the years.

The state of Montana controlled the sale of wine until 1979. After this time distributors were able to make wine more accessible to the public by offering placement in grocery and convenience stores.

During this time Earl’s was the only member in the state belonging to the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.  The WSWA is a national trade organization representing the wholesale branch of the wine industry.

By cultivating relationships with vintners, the company was able to grow its portfolio of domestic and imported brands of wine.

Earl had a commitment to the industry by promoting wine as part of a gracious lifestyle.  The culture and education of wine was available to the consumer through popular wine festivals.  The most important component of these events was not only experiencing a variety of wines, but giving back to the community as all events sponsored a local non-profit organization.

After 38 years in the business the company had 100% market share of domestic & imported wine for the western Montana territory.

Earl’s philosophy of striving to deliver positive results to the community and its employees was the core system of the company.  The tradition of sharing wine and champagne makes every day events a celebration.

I want to thank my featured guest and special person who has meant more in my life than he realizes.  Thank you Earl, and Happy New Year’s to you and all of your family.

Champagne and Sparkling wines are drinks of celebration, so it is important to understand what’s out there, and more importantly how they are different. 

The Champagne region of France produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world.  Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Different vintages are used to create the blend, or the “cuvee”. 

Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins which create its beautiful color.  Blanc de Blancs is true French Champagne; it is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.

Designations of quality:

Prestige cuvee:

This Champagne is the highest priced and is available only in small quantities.  It is designated “Prestige” because the grapes come from the best grapes grown in the highest rated villages. It is made from the first pressing of the grapes, produced only as a vintage, and will have been aged longer than vintage and non-vintage Champagnes.

Vintage Champagne:                                     

Some select years produce an outstanding grape harvest.  The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years.  Remember, a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.

Non-Vintage Champagne:

The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.

How to identify your Champagne

  • Brut is Dry
  • Extra Dry is Semidry
  • Sec is Semisweet
  • Demi-sec is Sweet

Other sparkling Wine Regions:

Loire Valley of France produces Crémant, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region.  The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.   Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine with a mellow effervescence.  It is produced in the Italian province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has low alcohol content usually around 8 percent.  Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and more refined than the Asti Spumante.

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  

Suggestions:

$$$(20.00 & up) = Expensive, complex, sophisticated selections

$$(14.00 -20.00) = Excellent quality, some of the nuance and complexity of $$$

$(under 14.00) = Simple, fun, value

Gosset Champagne $$$

This champagne presents in the glass as crystal clear, pale golden hue with persistent fine, lively bubbles.  The bouquet of this Champagne is intense, elegant and inviting on the nose.  Fresh floral notes reminiscent of honeysuckle, wisteria and white jasmine seamlessly give way to exotic aromas of pineapple, guava and mango with hints of caramel, gingerbread and cinnamon.  A trace of pear liqueur completes the harmonious finish.

The taste of this invigoratingly fresh and refined champagne is characterized by rich density and volume.  On the palate, delicate floral notes give way to flavors of sweet peaches and nectarines over subtle notes of spices like cardamom and green pepper.  The finish is delicate and smooth, with irresistible and deliciously sensual flavors of candied fruit, cinnamon and licorice.

L’Ermitage 2002 $$$

L’ERMITAGE is Roederer Estate’s special Tête de Cuvée, which has consistently been rated one of California’s top sparkling wines since its debut in 1989.  Taking a cue from owner Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate produces its sparkling wines in the traditional French methode champenoise and adds special oak-aged reserve wines to each blend.  L’ERMITAGE is made only in exceptional years, of pre-selected grapes that come from the very best lots.

Fine tiny bubbles and a long lasting mousse are the usual footprints of the L’ERMITAGE cuvée.  This cuvée from the palindromic vintage 2002 is showing great notes of “tarte tatin”: baked apples and buttery crust, with notes of apricot and delicate vanilla bean.  The mouthfeel is creamy, expresses flavors of quince and bread crust, with a clean and crisp yet long finish.

Roederer Estate Brut NV $$

Roederer Estate Brut, the first California sparkling wine produced by Champagne Louis Roederer, builds upon a 200-year tradition of fine winemaking that has made Roederer Champagne among the most sought-after in the world.

The Roederer Estate Brut is crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. It is fresh and lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavor.

Gruet Brut Rose $

This nearly garnet Rose, like all our non-vintage sparkling wines, is aged 24 months en tirage. It has a lovely, bright floral bouquet with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. On the palate, it is rich and fruity in a dry, Brut style. The flavor of berries continues on the palate, revealing more strawberry, raspberry, cherry. This sparkler is lots of fun and very festive, but production is limited to 5000 cases per year, so don’t miss out!

Vietti Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta 2010 $$

Straw color, frizzante, peach, rose petal, ginger, sweet & delicate on the palate. Good balance of fruit and acidity, complex, apricots on the finish.

Lamberti Prosecco $

This non-vintage Prosecco Extra Dry offers lovely balance in a perfumed, crisp style defined by green apples, flowers and sweet spices.  The finish is long and polished.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut $

This fine Spanish sparkling wine is made using the Traditional Method, in which the secondary fermentation producing a sparkling wine’s bubbles occurs in the bottle. Its fresh, toasty nose, beautiful citrus, green apple and mineral flavors, supple, lively mouth-feel, and clean, crisp finish make it the ultimate celebratory wine.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut – Extra Dry $

Slightly off-dry, it offers fresh pear and apple aromas and rich citrus, peach and green apple flavors. A subtle yeasty tone and a refreshing, elegant finish.

2008 Argyle Brut $$$

63% Oregon Pinot Noir, 37% Oregon Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine

In the glass this wine presents a soft straw color with tight tiny streams of bubbles.  On the nose you get full aromas of creamy vanilla poached pear and fresh sour dough starter.  The first impression on the palate is of how well balanced this wine is, playing the purity of fruit off of the fresh acidity while showcasing the wine’s natural mineral notes.  There are notes of ripe guava, red Anjou pear, Meyer lemon, and lightly toasted brioche, finishing with notes of honeysuckle and lemon curd.  A great vintage of sparkling wine from Argyle in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux $

 This sparkler is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world.  We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.

This Cremant Dry, toasty, smooth and clean SAINT-HILAIRE truly captivates with an attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty enough.

Rotari Talento Brut $

Rotari was born in the heart of the Dolomites.  The mountain climate, the special care of the vineyards, the dedication of our winemakers in the manual selection and harvest of the grapes give life to the fresh and fragrant bubbles that are both complex and enjoyable reflections of the characteristics of the region.  The Metodo Classico, its history, and its long aging process on its yeast bestow upon Rotari unique and unrepeatable characteristics.

Produced with Chardonnay grapes that are selected and harvested by hand and originate exclusively from the best vineyards in the hills of Trentino.  At the foot of the Dolomites, where the Chardonnay expresses best its fresh and fruity character, the Rotari Brut is fragrant, intense and elegant.

I would like to offer a New Year’s toast to all of you, may your New Year be filled with health, happiness, and prosperity.  I thank each and everyone of my audience for making my year what it has been. 

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

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Valentine’s Day, Champagne, Sparkling wines, and a few pairing ideas made simple with WineGuyMike™


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© on both radio stations on Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

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WineGuyMike™ is going to explain a very complex area of wine as simply as I’m able to.  Do not let this topic be overwhelming but please take a moment to read this blog post, it will give you the information you need to filter through all the minutia and have the knowledge to make wise purchasing choices for your special Valentine Day celebration.  At the very end of this blog post I will have a list of wines for you to consider along with a few pairing suggestions.

You might ask what are Champagnes and Sparkling Wines?  These wines as I will refer to them are just that, although they have been carbonated in some way shape or form.  This is process that you need to know about, it is an important part of your decision making process when it comes to actually making a purchase.  

The other important thing that you need to know is; what is the “compromise” style of sparkling beverage that my Valentine and I will both enjoy on this all important day of romantic celebration.  So let’s dig in and let me give you the scoop on what you need to know to go to the store and walk up to the shelf with confidence and make that choice.

Champagne is from the Champagne region of France.  This regions entire focus is on just that and that is why it is so good.  There are three grapes that they use in their Champagne; Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.  The juice from these grapes from different years are blended together, bottled, taken care of by hand and laid down in cool caves to become what we know as the bottle of Champagne we drink for special occasions in our lives.

Champagne that has a slightly pink color is still terrific to drink.  This occurs during the fermentation process.  The juice of the pinot noir grape is left with its skins for a short period of time and the skins impart a slight coloration to the grape juice.  This is how they create the color in Pink Champagne.  Champagne known as Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% Chardonnay and is one of WineGuyMike’s™ favorite Champagnes.

Now we know there are three different types of Champagne but what are the different types? 

  • Brut is Dry
  • Extra Dry is Semidry 
  • Sec is Semisweet 
  • Demi-sec is Sweet 

This is where the compromise comes in when celebrating a special occasion with your Valentine.  Nothing dampens an intimate celebration of your relationship faster than a wine that is to dry or to sweet for you or your partner.  So please consider this prior to making your purchase.

Let’s talk about the quality of the bottle you are purchasing and what information you need to know about this.  There are three things you need to know and on the label it will mention or not a few things that speak to the quality of the wine which will be reflected in the price.

  • Prestige cuvee or Tête de Cuvée – this is the very best juice that has also been aged the longest of all Champagnes.  This is also going to be the most expensive. 
  • Vintage Champagne – some years produce an outstanding grape harvest and there will be a Vintage Champagne as a result.  These bottles have been aged at least three years.  This will actually be noted on the label as it will have the vintage or year that it was produced on the label.  These are also expensive bottles of Champagne. 
  • Non-Vintage Champagne – The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.  These are typically what I and the general consumer drink.  These are still incredible Champagnes because they are produced in the traditional method or as it is known in the wine industry; Méthode Champenoise.

ethode Champenoise is industry term that signifies the traditional method of making Champagne.  The wine is fermented twice, once in an oak barrel, and the second time the wine developes carbonation in the bottle while aging a minimum of one year.

Sparkling Wine is also carbonated wine that is not produced in Champagne France.  The quality of this wine can vary widely depending on how it is produced and what the intent of the production was.  Sparkling wines may use some of the three traditional Champagne grapes; Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.  Typically a wine maker will also use grapes that are common to the region in which they are located; this does not mean that it won’t be good quality.

The best Sparkling Wines will be made using what will be noted on the label, “traditional method”, ethode Traditionnelle or you may see ethode Champenoise but that term is becoming less popular to use on Sparkling wine labels.  So this and the information we covered in the Champagne section of this blog post is really what you need to know about Sparkling wines.  Remember the same terms, quality designations, and types of wines apply to Sparkling Wines apply to your purchasing decisions.

Now we are going to talk about “other” Sparkling wines.  There are three that I’m going to address for you.  The three that are important for you to know about are Prosecco, Cava, Asti Spumante, and  Moscato d’Asti.

 Prosecco is an Italian wine, generally a dry sparkling wine, usually made from grape variety Glera, which is also known as Prosecco.  The Veneto region of Italy is where Glera/ Prosecco is grown and produced.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.  The various sparkling wines may contain some Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio wine.  Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Prosecco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Prosecco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

Prosecco is Italy’s answer to refreshing, well-made, sparkling wine that is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume.  Created from predominately Prosecco grapes in the northern Veneto region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps.  Prosecco is light, affordable, and fun.  This Sparkling wine is aromatic and crisp, with nuances of yellow apple, citrus, pear, white peach, and apricot.  Today’s Proseccos tend to be  dry and very bubbly and typically will present itself as light, fresh, with an initial intense bouquet/aroma, but simple and straight forward compared to Champagne. 

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine with a mellow effervescence.  It is produced in the province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has a low alcohol content usually around 8% .  

Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and for my palette I find these wines to be made in a more refined style than the Asti Spumante.  The Moscato d’Asti is an aperitif or dessert wine though and will definitely be on the sweet side.  I use this wine as an opener or a closer but not an all evening drink of choice.

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Originally the wine was known as Champaña until Spanish producers officially adopted the term “Cava” (cellar) in 1970.  Cava wines are fermented and aged in the bottle in underground cellars.   Today 95% of Spain’s total Cava production is from Catalonia.

Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  Under Spanish Denominación de Origen laws, Cava can be produced in six wine regions and must be made according to the Traditional Method with second fermentation in the bottle.  The grapes used to produce Cava are Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Malvasia.  The Chardonnay grape is a late comer to the scene despite being a traditional grape used to produce Champagne.  It was not introduced in the production of Cava until the 1980s.

In order for the wines to be called ‘Cava’, they must be made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise.  Wines made via the low-cost Charmat process may only be called ‘Spanish sparkling wine’.   A rosé style of Cava is also produced by adding in small amounts of red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell to the wine.

Cava made by the Champagne method, is a very acceptable alternative to French champagne.  Cava is usually made by the Coupage method, whereby must, a.k.a(grape juice) from different grape varieties is subjected to the first fermentation which is blended until it  is consistent with the wine that the winemaker wants to produce .  After the Coupage, the wine is put into bottles and yeast and sugar added.  It is then cellared for the second fermentation and aging.

Crémant is produced in the Loire Valley of France and is the largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region.  Crémant has to be aged for at least one year and it is handpicked.  The producers are also limited as to how much can be harvested, this all according to the French A.O.C.

There are seven French appelations that carry the Crémant designation in their name:

  1. Crémant d’Alsace
  2. Crémant de Bordeaux
  3. Crémant de Bourgogne
  4. Crémant de Die
  5. Crémant du Jura
  6. Crémant de Limoux
  7. Crémant de Loire

Crémant de Loire’s are a blend of the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. In Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne, must be composed of at least thirty percent Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris while Aligoté is often used to complement the blend.  The Languedoc region in the south of France produces Crémant de Limoux.  This Sparkling wine is produced from the indigenous grape Mauzac, with Chenin blanc, and Chardonnay rounding out the wine in small amounts.

The Crémant Sparkling Wines are pressurized less than Champagne and therefore have a larger looser bubble as a result. 

WineGuyMike’s™ recommendation is to determine your price point for your purchase and  with all the information you have learned from this post you will be able to make a knowledgeable selection and not just a guess.  One of the very best bangs for the buck is Cava.  It is a terrific Sparkling Wine that is made in the “traditional method”, or ethode Traditionnelle.  For me this is a great budget selection.  You will be able to find great selections from $6.00 to $15.00 that are sure to satisfy. 

Champagne and Sparkling Wine list:

Schramsberg 2007 Brut Rosé is flavorful, complex and dry, making it both versatile with food and delicious by itself as an apéritif.  The character of the wine is most strongly influenced by bright, flavorful Pinot Noir grown in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas.  A few small lots of Pinot Noir are fermented in contact with their skins to add depth and subtle color to this unique sparkling wine.  Chardonnay gives spice, structure and length on the palate.

“Juicy strawberry jumps out of the glass, followed by raspberry and cherries. The berry bouquet is complimented by mandarin orange and papaya. The palate has exotic flavors of mango and cantaloupe, followed by mouthwatering citrus. A juicy viscosity leads to a long, lingering finish.”– Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies

L’ERMITAGE 2002 – ($45.00)

L’ERMITAGE is Roederer Estate’s special Tête de Cuvée, which has consistently been rated one of California’s top sparkling wines since its debut in 1989.  Taking a cue from owner Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate produces its sparkling wines in the traditional French methode champenoise and adds special oak-aged reserve wines to each blend.  L’ERMITAGE is made only in exceptional years, of pre-selected grapes that come from the very best lots.

Roederer Estate L'ERMITAGE Brut 2002

Roederer Estate L'ERMITAGE Brut 2002

Fine tiny bubbles and a long lasting mousse are the usual footprints of the L’ERMITAGE cuvée.  This cuvée from the palindromic vintage 2002 is showing great notes of “tarte tatin”: baked apples and buttery crust, with notes of apricot and delicate vanilla bean.  The mouthfeel is creamy, expresses flavors of quince and bread crust, with a clean and crisp yet long finish.

Gosset Champagne Brut Grande Reserve

 
 

Gosset Brut Grand Reserve Champagne

Gosset Brut Grand Reserve Champagne

 The non-vintage Gosset Brut Grande Reserve Champagne is delicious, dry and flavorful, sporting citrus, spice, apple and pear flavors on a firm, lightweight frame

Argyle 2007 Brut – 90 PT. Wine Spectator Rating, 63% Oregon Chardonnay, 37% Oregon Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wine Knudsen Vineyards, Lone Star Vineyard Willamette Valley AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($25.00) Prepare to be fascinated by this alluring sparkling vintage.  The aromas are a weaving together of the best that fine sparkling wines deliver.  Look for vanilla spiced pear fruit with very floral citrus blossom scents.  A lovely yeastiness blends nicely with fresh baguette bouquet.  There’s a hint of Fresca-like citrus in there too.  The palate is VIBRANT and chock full of tiny bubbles.  Pear to red apple fruit folds nicely into vanilla spice.  The texture is creamy-plus, providing amazing richness while remaining zippy and citrusy.  The yeast flavor has evolved into filo dough right out of the oven.   These flavors go on and on after the wine is gone.   

Argyle Brut

Argyle Brut

Saint-Hilaire($12.99)Blanquette de Limoux is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world.  We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.  The Limoux vineyards are located in Languedoc, in Southern France, at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. The grapes are selected from clay-limestone plots that capture both the Oceanic and Mediterranean influences.

Dry, toasty, smooth and clean SAINT-HILAIRE truly captivates with an attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty enough.

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux

Crémant d’Alsace Brut Lucien Albrecht – Grape: Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc.

Origin of the grapes: the vineyards on clay-chalky soil are all in the Orschwihr commune, a large vine-growing area in Southern Alsace which has an early micro climate.  Crémant d’Alsace Brut Lucien Albrecht is only produced from the cuvée (only the first pressings from the press).
Characteristics:
– attractive sober colour, flowery nose, fine and persistent head, very elegant and balanced mouth.

Antech Limoux Cuvee Expressions Cremant De Limoux Brut

 
 

Antech Limoux Cuvee Expressions Cremant De Limoux Brut

Antech Limoux Cuvee Expressions Cremant De Limoux Brut

 Notes of fresh toast, fresh apple and a hint of peach.  This full-bodied and very wine-like bubbly combines flavor with a ton of finesse.

Cava, Prosecco, and Asti Spumante

Saracco Moscato D´ Asti ($15.00’ish) – Perfume of fresh peach, pear and aromatic white flowers. A gentle sparkle brightens the fruit and a tingle of sweetness hints of candied fruits.  This wine is perfect as refreshing aperitif or a light finish to a meal.  Saracco has perfected the balance of acid and residual sugar to make an incredibly light and floral sparkling wine.

Saracco Moscato D' Asti

Saracco Moscato D' Asti

Adami Prosecco ($13.00)           

Moderately fine, persistent, and frothy mousse. Lovely, elegant scents of green apples, white wildflowers, minerals, and glazed almonds. The palate is dry but still generous with flavors of yellow cherries and tropical fruits, and a very long finish.  This Sparkling wine is aromatic and crisp, with nuances of yellow apple, citrus, pear, white peach, and apricot.

Adami Garbel Prosecco

Adami Garbel Prosecco

Banfi Rosa Regale  is crafted from 100% Brachetto grapes grown exclusively at the La Rosa Vineyard in the town of Acqui Terme located in the Piedmont region of Italy.  The label features a single red rose, representing the wines origin from this single vineyard La Rosa estate.

Rosa Regale has a delicate bouquet of rose petals and offers sensuous flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries.  Its effervescence is softer than that of champagne, yet it yields a persistent and delicate pink froth.  Its lively garnet color makes other sparklers pale in comparison.  Served chilled and with a low alcohol content, it serves as the perfect partner throughout the entire meal, beginning as an elegant aperitif, moving to a savory appetizer and ending with a sweet dessert.  No wine pairs better with chocolate than Rosa Regale.  The bright fresh berry flavors complement the sweet velvet of the chocolate.  Rosa Regale is a seductive red sparkler that turns any occasion into a celebration.

Freixenet

Cordon Negro Brut – 87 POINTS, BEST BUY(under $10.00)
“This is your quintessential simple quaffamong brut cavas.lt’s clean, lime-tinged and soda-like on the nose, with a correct, no-issues palate that pushes zesty apple along with sweet papaya, mango and banana flavors.   It’s slightly sweet and tropical, but still it holds onto its crisp qualities and dryness.  No complaints for the money.”
Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2010 

Cordon Negro Extra Dry  – 86 POINTS(under $10.00)
“Clean and approachable, with lemon-lime aromas leading to an easy, mildly crisp palate with lemon, lime and honeydew flavors.  Sweet in accordance with standard extra dry guidelines,and also good for ap~ritifs and sparkling cocktails.”
Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2010 

Brut Nature – 88 POINTS(under $15.00)
“Crisp as it should be, with fit aromas of apple, fresh lettuce and honey.  The palate is crystal clear in its delivery of lemon, apple and green banana, while the finish is vivacious and runs the distance.  Quite satisfying and fairly serious given its under-$15 provenance.”
Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2008 

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva – ($5.99) Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, created from a blend of reserve and non-vintage wines, is clean and delicate, yet rich in flavor. A cuvée of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes grown in the renowned Alt Penedès region of Spain, the wine is vinified according to méthode champenoise technique and is aged in the bottle for a minimum of three years.

This fine cuvée is fairly crisp with an interesting floral note and mouth-pleasing sensation of creaminess.

Cristalino

Brut Rose´ Cava – 60% Pinot Nior, 40% Trepat(under $10.00)

Beautiful scents of raspberry and cherry on the nose with fresh, clean strawberry and cherry flavors in the mouth and a consistent bead. The finish is clean and crisp and invites another sip.

Cristalino Brut Rose Cava is an excellent match for fried appetizers such as calamari or light desserts such as creme brulee. It is also excellent on its own or with fresh fruit.

Brut Cava($5.99) – Straw color, smooth and fresh aromas; fine and fruity palate with a dry aftertaste. Clean, dry and crisp with citrus and apple flavors.

What to eat and enjoy with your Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Here is a link to my wine and recipe pairing application you will find useful if you plan to dine in.  Consider oysters, shell fish and gently seasoned lighter fish when you search for recipes with my Wine & Dine app. to pair with your Sparkling Wine or Champagne choice.  http://winendine.snapapps.com/default.aspx?ctrl=FoodRecipePairing

As for a dessert to pair with your beverage selection stay with a lighter fair as this will work very well with the Champagnes and Sparkling Wines.  Fresh non-citrus fruits will work very well as a pairing, think about chocolate covered strawberries and melon type fruits.  They are fantastic as a light dessert to go with your wine selection.

The whole idea is to really enjoy your evening with your date.  WineGuyMike™ recommends choosing a nice beverage that’s within your price range.   With the information we have learned about in this Valentine’s Day blog post you will be able to make good choices.  Don’t drink too much, it will compromise the enjoyment of your evening.  Eat light, you don’t want to feel sluggish or to full and weighed down.  Enjoy yourself but approach the evening with moderation of drinking and eating your evening will be much more memorable.  Be safe and have a Happy Valentine’s Day.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Valentine’s Day Champagne and Sparkling Wines, recommendations, and a few pairings too.


Tonight I will be posting many recommendations and food pairings too.  These will be available to you by Sunday’s dawns early light.  The current information is through and extensive.  If you read this post you will be an empowered consumer of Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava, and Prosecco. 

This week WineGuyMike™ is going to be talking about bubbly Valentine’s Day.  First off I’m going to be discussing what the differences are between Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava, Prosecco, and Spumante.  Then I will suggest what might be great for your Valentine’s Day.  Now let’s dig in and get to the bottom of all of this.

What is the difference between Champagne and Sparkling wine?  Well let’s take a look and find out.  Sparkling wines and champagne are still wines that have been infused with carbonation. True Champagne is made in France will be noted by the capital letter “C”on the label.  Other sparkling wines called Champagne will by designated as “champagne”, notice no capitalization. Three grapes are used in Champagne, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.  It’s white because only the juice of the grapes is used.

There are four methods of Sparkling wine production:

1. Carbon Dioxide Injection – soft drinks and inexpensive sparkling wines are produced using this method.  It produces large bubbles that dissipate quickly.

2. Charmat Process – wine undergoes a second fermentation in large bulk tanks and is bottled under pressure.  Prosecco and Asti are produced utilizing this method, smaller longer lasting bubbles result from this method.  Many Sparkling wines are made using this method.

3. Méthode Champenoise – this process takes place in the bottle and requires hands on attention.  During the second fermentation the carbon dioxide stays in the bottle and this is where the bubbles come from.

4. Transfer Method – the cuvee is bottled for the second fermentation which adds complexity.  But the wine is then removed and stored in large tanks after it has spent the appropriate amount of time on yeast.

Champagne:

The Champagne region of France not only produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world, but some of the finest wines in the world too.  Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Different vintages are used to create the blend or better known as the “Cuvee”.

Champagne is expensive due to the traditional method of how it is made, Méthode Champenoise and techniques known as second fermentation.  This process takes place in the bottle and requires hands on attention.

Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins, truly a delight.  Méthode Champenoise is the true French fermentation process.  The wine is fermented twice, once in an oak barrel, and the second time the wine developes carbonation in the bottle while aging a minimum of one year.

Blanc de Blancs is true French Champagne, it is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.  Blanc de Blancs fermented using the Méthode Champenoise process, producing white Champagne.

Designations of quality:

Prestige cuvee:

This Champagne is the highest priced and is available only in small quantities.  It is designated “Prestige” because the grapes come from the best grapes from the highest rated villages, it is made from the first pressing of the grapes, produced only as a vintage, and will have been aged longer than vintage and non-vintage Champagnes.

Vintage Champagne:                                          

Some select years produce an outstanding grape harvest.  The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years.  Here are an example of a few companies who produce these Vintage Champagnes; Veuve Clicquot, Perrier-Jouet, Moet & Chandon, and Taittinger.

Remember a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.

Non-Vintage Champagne:

The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.

How to Select your Champagne

  • Brut is Dry
  • Extra Dry is Semidry 
  • Sec is Semisweet 
  • Demi-sec is Sweet 

Quality Champagne Cellars:

Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchene, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heid sieck Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Lauret Perrier, Mercier, Moet & Chandon, Mumm Perrier-Jouet, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot

Other sparkling Wine Regions:

Loire Valley of France produces Crémant, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region.  The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.

Prosecco is an Italian wine, generally a dry sparkling wine, usually made from grape variety Glera, which is also known as Prosecco.  The Veneto region of Italy is where Glera/ Prosecco is grown and produced.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.  The various sparkling wines may contain some Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio wine.  Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Unlike Champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

Prosecco is Italy’s answer to refreshing, well-made, sparkling wine that is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume.  Created from predominately Prosecco grapes in the northern Veneto region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps.  Prosecco is light, affordable, and fun.  This Sparkling wine is aromatic and crisp, with nuances of yellow apple, citrus, pear, white peach, and apricot.  Today’s Proseccos tend to be  dry and very bubbly and typically will present itself as light, fresh, with an initial intense bouquet/aroma, but simple and straight forward compared to Champagne. 

Prosecco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Prosecco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine with a mellow effervescence.  It is produced in the province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has a low alcohol content usually around 8% .  Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and for my palette I find these wines to be more refined than the Asti Spumante.

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Originally the wine was known as Champaña until Spanish producers officially adopted the term “Cava” (cellar) in 1970.  Cava wines are fermented and aged in the bottle in underground cellars.   Today 95% of Spain’s total Cava production is from Catalonia.

Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  Under Spanish Denominación de Origen laws, Cava can be produced in six wine regions and must be made according to the Traditional Method with second fermentation in the bottle.  The grapes used to produce Cava are Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Malvasia.  The Chardonnay grape is a late comer to the scene despite being a traditional grape used to produce Champagne.  It was not introduced in the production of Cava until the 1980s.

In order for the wines to be called ‘Cava’, they must be made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise.  Wines made via the low-cost Charmat process may only be called ‘Spanish sparkling wine’.   A rosé style of Cava is also produced by adding in small amounts of red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell to the wine.

Cava made by the Champagne method, is a very acceptable alternative to French champagne.  Cava is usually made by the Coupage method, whereby must, a.k.a(grape juice) from different grape varieties is subjected to the first fermentation which is blended until it  is consistent with the wine that the winemaker wants to produce .  After the Coupage, the wine is put into bottles and yeast and sugar added.  It is then cellared for the second fermentation and aging.

Crémant is produced in the Loire Valley of France and is the largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region.  Crémant has to be aged for at least one year and it is handpicked.  The producers are also limited as to how much can be harvested, this all according to the French A.O.C.

There are seven French appelations that carry the Crémant designation in their name:

  1. Crémant d’Alsace
  2. Crémant de Bordeaux
  3. Crémant de Bourgogne
  4. Crémant de Die
  5. Crémant du Jura
  6. Crémant de Limoux
  7. Crémant de Loire

Crémant de Loire’s are a blend of the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. In Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne, must be composed of at least thirty percent Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris while Aligoté is often used to complement the blend.  The Languedoc region in the south of France produces Crémant de Limoux.  This Sparkling wine is produced from the indigenous grape Mauzac, with Chenin blanc, and Chardonnay rounding out the wine in small amounts.

The Crémant Sparkling Wines are pressurized less than Champagne and therefore have a larger looser bubble as a result. 

California Sparkling Wines:

Sparkling wines from California use a few grape varietals such as Berger and Chenin Blanc to blend with the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Producers to look for in California; Hacienda, Domain Lauier, Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Codorniu-Napa, Iron Horse, Jordan, Mumm-Cuvee Napa, and Schramsberg.

Remember the name “Champagne” can only be used in Europe on bottles that actually are produced in the Champagne region of France.

After all this your head is probably spinning and you haven’t even opened a bottle of sparkly yet, I know mine is.  So here we go with a few recommendations, but remember with the information WineGuyMike™ has provided you with you should now be able to approach the shelf as an empowered consumer.  You will be able to make the best purchase in your desired price range with this information.  Now for the Champagne and Sparkling Wine recommendations.

Recommendations

Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

Schramsberg 2007 Brut Rosé is flavorful, complex and dry, making it both versatile with food and delicious by itself as an apéritif. The character of the wine is most strongly influenced by bright, flavorful Pinot Noir grown in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas. A few small lots of Pinot Noir are fermented in contact with their skins to add depth and subtle color to this unique sparkling wine. Chardonnay gives spice, structure and length on the palate.

Hand picking, careful handling and gentle pressing produce a wine of delicacy, free of skin and seed tannin. Following the fall harvest and base winemaking period, an extensive process of blending trial and refinement is carried out in the spring. The finished blend is aged on the yeast in the bottle for about two years, just enough to achieve refined effervescence and toastiness without diminishing its refreshing, vibrant appeal.

“Juicy strawberry jumps out of the glass, followed by raspberry and cherries. The berry bouquet is complimented by mandarin orange and papaya. The palate has exotic flavors of mango and cantaloupe, followed by mouthwatering citrus. A juicy viscosity leads to a long, lingering finish.”

– Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies

Enjoy this rich, delicious sparkler on almost any occasion: at your favorite restaurant, a special dinner at home, at a beach picnic or a backyard barbecue. A very versatile wine; try it with sushi, salmon, rock shrimp, pizza, roast chicken, BBQ ribs, burgers, chocolate raspberry tarts and creamy cheeses with summer fruits.

L’ERMITAGE 2002 – ($45.00)

L’ERMITAGE is Roederer Estate’s special Tête de Cuvée, which has consistently been rated one of California’s top sparkling wines since its debut in 1989.  Taking a cue from owner Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate produces its sparkling wines in the traditional French methode

champenoise and adds special oak-aged reserve wines to each blend.  L’ERMITAGE is made only in exceptional years, of pre-selected grapes that come from the very best lots.

WINEMAKER NOTES

Fine tiny bubbles and a long lasting mousse are the usual footprints of the L’ERMITAGE cuvée.  This cuvée from the palindromic vintage 2002 is showing great notes of “tarte tatin”: baked apples and buttery crust, with notes of apricot and delicate vanilla bean.  The mouthfeel is creamy, expresses flavors of quince and bread crust, with a clean and crisp yet long finish.

VINTAGE SUMMARY

The 2002 vintage was typical of the Anderson Valley cool climate. A dry spring and summer, with very few days of frost or heat, led to a beautiful set of the crop.  The pinot had small berry size which led to some concentrated and very aromatic wines.  Harvest start dates were August 23rd for Pinot Noir and September 4th for the Chardonnay.

WINEMAKING

Roederer Estate wines are made with juice from just the cuvée pressing; no première or deuxième taille is used.  The concept of the vintage L’Ermitage is the same one that is used in Champagne: Only the best of the vintage is selected.  These are exceptional wines that create a “noble” (special) blend that allows for longer aging, which produces a fine wine with elegance and finesse.   Four members of the blending team include winemakers from Champagne Louis Roederer in France and Roederer Estate in California, together totaling over 130 years of experience.  The wine for the dosage added to the 2002 L’ERMITAGE was 2002 wine liquor aged for 5 years in a French oak cask.  Following disgorgement, L’ERMITAGE was aged an additional six months (minimum) on the cork prior to release.

·         Argyle 2007 Brut – 90 PT. Wine Spectator Rating, 63% Oregon Chardonnay, 37% Oregon Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wine Knudsen Vineyards, Lone Star Vineyard Willamette Valley AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($25.00) Prepare to be fascinated by this alluring sparkling vintage.  The aromas are a weaving together of the best that fine sparkling wines deliver.  Look for vanilla spiced pear fruit with very floral citrus blossom scents.  A lovely yeastiness blends nicely with fresh baguette bouquet.  There’s a hint of Fresca-like citrus in there too.  The palate is VIBRANT and chock full of tiny bubbles.  Pear to red apple fruit folds nicely into vanilla spice.  The texture is creamy-plus, providing amazing richness while remaining zippy and citrusy.  The yeast flavor has evolved into filo dough right out of the oven.   These flavors go on and on after the wine is gone.   

  • Saint-Hilaire($12.99)Blanquette de Limoux is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world. We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.

By 1794 Blanquette de Limoux was well known and appreciated throughout France. About that time, it was discovered by a famous American, Thomas Jefferson.

Among his other talents, the third American President was an expert on French Wines and Blanquette de Limoux, one of his favorites, was an integral part of his wine cellar.  In fact, President Jefferson was probably the first person to bring the wine to America.

Today, Blanquette de Limoux has won the acclaim of knowledgeable wine enthusiasts throughout the world.

It is sold in the United States under the name SAINT-HILAIRE in honor of the monks who first created the wine more than 475 years ago. One taste of SAINT- HILAIRE quickly reveals why France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine is also its’ best.

The Limoux vineyards are located in Languedoc, in Southern France, at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. The grapes are selected from clay-limestone plots that capture both the Oceanic and Mediterranean influences.

All of the grapes are picked by hand and the wine is produced using the Traditional Method of secondary fermentation in the bottle….the same method used for Champagne.  Minimum 12 months of horizontal aging in the bottle

Dry, toasty, smooth and clean SAINT-HILAIRE truly captivates with an attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty enough.

  • Crémant d’Alsace Brut Lucien Albrecht – Grape: Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc.

    Origin of the grapes: the vineyards on clay-chalky soil are all in the Orschwihr commune, a large vine-growing area in Southern Alsace which has an early micro climate.Analytical characteristics:
    – 12° proof
    – completely malolactic fermentationCrémant d’Alsace Brut Lucien Albrecht is only produced from the cuvée (only the first pressings from the press).Characteristics:
    – attractive sober colour, flowery nose, fine and persistent head, very elegant and balanced mouth.
  • Banfi Rosa Regale – In 1979, John and Harry Mariani, family proprietors of Banfi Vintners, acquired a mid-18th century winery, known as Bruzzone, revitalized it and renamed the facility Vigne Regali.  Here, with the same detailed care as a century ago, our skilled winemakers produce “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d’Acqui D.O.C.G.  This rare Brachetto, a semi-dry, red sparkling wine cherished by the courts of Europe over two centuries ago, owes its reincarnation to Banfi.

Rosa Regale is created in one of Italy’s smallest production zones, the Brachetto d’Acqui Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, commonly referred to as DOCG.  It is crafted from 100% Brachetto grapes grown exclusively at the La Rosa Vineyard in the town of Acqui Terme located in the Piedmont region of Italy.  The label features a single red rose, representing the wines origin from this single vineyard La Rosa estate.

Rosa Regale has a delicate bouquet of rose petals and offers sensuous flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries. Its effervescence is softer than that of champagne, yet it yields a persistent and delicate pink froth.  Its lively garnet color makes other sparklers pale in comparison.  Served chilled and with a low alcohol content, it serves as the perfect partner throughout the entire meal, beginning as an elegant aperitif, moving to a savory appetizer and ending with a sweet dessert. No wine pairs better with chocolate than Rosa Regale.  The bright fresh berry flavors complement the sweet velvet of the chocolate.  Rosa Regale is a seductive red sparkler that turns any occasion into a celebration.

Rosa Regale is produced using the Charmat process.  This method forces the second fermentation to happen in large stainless steel tanks prior to bottling, rather than in the bottle like the traditional méthod champenoise.  This process is best used on sparkling wines that are meant to be enjoyed young and relatively fresh.

Cava, Prosecco, and Asti Spumante

Saracco Moscato D′ Asti ($15.00’ish) – Perfume of fresh peach, pear and aromatic white flowers. A gentle sparkle brightens the fruit and a tingle of sweetness hints of candied fruits.  This wine is perfect as refreshing aperitif or a light finish to a meal.  Saracco has perfected the balance of acid and residual sugar to make an incredibly light and floral sparkling wine.

Freixenet

  • Cordon Negro Brut – 87 POINTS, BEST BUY(under $10.00)
    “This is your quintessential simple quaffamong brut cavas.lt’s clean, lime-tinged and soda-like on the nose, with a correct, no-issues palate that pushes zesty apple along with sweet papaya, mango and banana flavors. It’s slightly sweet and tropical, but still it holds onto its crisp qualities and dryness. No complaints for the money.”
    Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2010
  • Cordon Negro Extra Dry  – 86 POINTS(under $10.00)
    “Clean and approachable, with lemon-lime aromas leading to an easy, mildly crisp palate with lemon, lime and honeydew flavors. Sweet in accordance with standard extra dry guidelines,and also good for ap~ritifs and sparkling cocktails.”
    Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2010
  • Brut Nature – 88 POINTS(under $15.00)
    “Crisp as it should be, with fit aromas of apple, fresh lettuce and honey. The palate is crystal clear in its delivery of lemon, apple and green banana, while the finish is vivacious and runs the distance. Quite satisfying and fairly serious given its under-$15 provenance.”
    Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2008

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva – ($5.99) Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, created from a blend of reserve and non-vintage wines, is clean and delicate, yet rich in flavor. A cuvée of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes grown in the renowned Alt Penedès region of Spain, the wine is vinified according to méthode champenoise technique and is aged in the bottle for a minimum of three years.

This fine cuvée is fairly crisp with an interesting floral note and mouth-pleasing sensation of creaminess.

Cristalino

  • Brut Rose′ Cava – 60% Pinot Nior, 40% Trepat(under $10.00)

Beautiful scents of raspberry and cherry on the nose with fresh, clean strawberry and cherry flavors in the mouth and a consistent bead. The finish is clean and crisp and invites another sip.

Cristalino Brut Rose Cava is an excellent match for fried appetizers such as calamari or light desserts such as creme brulee. It is also excellent on its own or with fresh fruit.

Brut Cava($5.99) – Straw color, smooth and fresh aromas; fine and fruity palate with a dry aftertaste. Clean, dry and crisp with citrus and apple flavors.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© with Scott and Paula on The Ranch 12/29/10


Check out the radio show on The Ranch 107.1FM or 97.9FM in The Bitterroot Valley.  How about a live stream feed at www.107theranch.com.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© with Scott and Paula on The Ranch airs weekly on Wednesday mornings at 8:20AM MDT.

Each week we will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

See this week’s show on YouTube  each week on Thursday morning, the day after the show.  Our YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Sponsors                                                                                                                     

The show is sponsored by Grizzly Liquor, “Missoula’s Best Choice”.   

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

This week’s winner is; Liz Livingston

This week WineGuyMike™ is going to be talking about bubbly for your party.   First off I’m going to be discussing what the differences are between Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava, Prosecco, and Spumante.  Then I will suggest what might be great for your New Year’s party and share a party planning tool that will help you plan your party.  Now let’s dig in and get to the bottom of all of this.

What is the difference between Champagne and Sparkling wine?  Well let’s take a look and find out.  Sparkling wines and champagne are still wines that have been infused with carbonation. True Champagne is made in France will be noted by the capital letter “C”on the label.  Other sparkling wines called Champagne will by designated as “champagne”, notice no capitalization. Three grapes are used in Champagne, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.  It’s white because only the juice of the grapes is used.

There are four methods of Sparkling wine production:

1. Carbon Dioxide Injection – soft drinks and inexpensive sparkling wines are produced using this method.  It produces large bubbles that dissipate quickly.

2. Charmat Process – wine undergoes a second fermentation in large bulk tanks and is bottled under pressure.  Prosecco and Asti are produced utilizing this method, smaller longer lasting bubbles result from this method.  Many Sparkling wines are made using this method.

3. Méthode Champenoise – this process takes place in the bottle and requires hands on attention.  During the second fermentation the carbon dioxide stays in the bottle and this is where the bubbles come from.

4. Transfer Method – the cuvee is bottled for the second fermentation which adds complexity.  But the wine is then removed and stored in large tanks after it has spent the appropriate amount of time on yeast.

Champagne:

The Champagne region of France not only produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world, but some of the finest wines in the world too.  Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Different vintages are used to create the blend or better known as the “Cuvee”.

Champagne is expensive due to the traditional method of how it is made, M´ethod Champenoise and techniques known as second fermentation.  This process takes place in the bottle and requires hands on attention.

Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins, truly a delight.  M´ethode Champenoise is the true French fermentation process.  The wine is fermented twice, once in an oak barrel, and the second time the wine developes carbonation in the bottle while aging a minimum of one year.

 Blanc de Blancs is true French Champagne, it is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.  Blanc de Blancs fermented using the Methode Champenoise process, producing white Champagne.

Designations of quality:

Prestige cuvee:

This Champagne is the highest priced and is available only in small quantities.  It is designated “Prestige” because the grapes come from the best grapes from the highest rated villages, it is made from the first pressing of the grapes, produced only as a vintage, and will have been aged longer than vintage and non-vintage Champagnes.

Vintage Champagne:                                          

Some select years produce an outstanding grape harvest.  The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years.  Here are an example of a few companies who produce these Vintage Champagnes; Veuve Clicquot, Perrier-Jouet, Moet & Chandon, and Taittinger.

Remember a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.

Non-Vintage Champagne:

The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.

How to Select your Champagne

  • Brut is Dry
  • Extra Dry is Semidry 
  • Sec is Semisweet 
  • Demi-sec is Sweet 

Quality Champagne Cellars:

Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchene, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heid sieck Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Lauret Perrier, Mercier, Moet & Chandon, Mumm Perrier-Jouet, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot

Other sparkling Wine Regions:

Loire Valley of France produces Crémant, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region.  The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.

Prosecco is an Italian wine, generally a dry sparkling wine, usually made from grape variety Glera, which is also known as Prosecco.  The Veneto region of Italy is where Glera/ Prosecco is grown and produced.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.  The various sparkling wines may contain some Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio wine.  Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Unlike Champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

Prosecco is Italy’s answer to refreshing, well-made, sparkling wine that is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume.  Created from predominately Prosecco grapes in the northern Veneto region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps.  Prosecco is light, affordable, and fun.  This Sparkling wine is aromatic and crisp, with nuances of yellow apple, citrus, pear, white peach, and apricot.  Today’s Proseccos tend to be  dry and very bubbly and typically will present itself as light, fresh, with an initial intense bouquet/aroma, but simple and straight forward compared to Champagne. 

Prosecco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Prosecco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine.  It is produced in the province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has a low alcohol content usually around 8% .  Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and for my palette I find these wines to be more refined than the Asti Spumante. 

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Originally the wine was known as Champaña until Spanish producers officially adopted the term “Cava” (cellar) in 1970.  Cava wines are fermented and aged in the bottle in underground cellars.   Today 95% of Spain’s total Cava production is from Catalonia.

Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  Under Spanish Denominación de Origen laws, Cava can be produced in six wine regions and must be made according to the Traditional Method with second fermentation in the bottle.  The grapes used to produce Cava are Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Malvasia.  The Chardonnay grape is a late comer to the scene despite being a traditional grape used to produce Champagne.  It was not introduced in the production of Cava until the 1980s.

In order for the wines to be called ‘Cava’, they must be made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise.  Wines made via the low-cost Charmat process may only be called ‘Spanish sparkling wine’.   A rosé style of Cava is also produced by adding in small amounts of red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell to the wine.

Cava made by the Champagne method, is a very acceptable alternative to French champagne.  Cava is usually made by the Coupage method, whereby must, a.k.a(grape juice) from different grape varieties is subjected to the first fermentation which is blended until it  is consistent with the wine that the winemaker wants to produce .  After the Coupage, the wine is put into bottles and yeast and sugar added.  It is then cellared for the second fermentation and aging.

Crémant is produced in the Loire Valley of France and is the largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region.  Crémant has to be aged for at least one year and it is handpicked.  The producers are also limited as to how much can be harvested, this all according to the French A.O.C.

There are seven French appelations that carry the Crémant designation in their name:

  1. Crémant d’Alsace
  2. Crémant de Bordeaux
  3. Crémant de Bourgogne
  4. Crémant de Die
  5. Crémant du Jura
  6. Crémant de Limoux
  7. Crémant de Loire

Crémant de Loire’s are a blend of the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. In Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne, must be composed of at least thirty percent Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris while Aligoté is often used to complement the blend.  The Languedoc region in the south of France produces Crémant de Limoux.  This Sparkling wine is produced from the indigenous grape Mauzac, with Chenin blanc, and Chardonnay rounding out the wine in small amounts.

The Crémant Sparkling Wines are pressurized less than Champagne and therefore have a larger looser bubble as a result. 

California Sparkling Wines:

Sparkling wines from California use a few grape varietals such as Berger and Chenin Blanc to blend with the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Producers to look for in California; Hacienda, Domain Lauier, Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Codorniu-Napa, Iron Horse, Jordan, Mumm-Cuvee Napa, and Schramsberg.

Remember the name “Champagne” can only be used in Europe on bottles that actually are produced in the Champagne region of France.

After all this your head is probably spinning and you haven’t even opened a bottle of sparkly yet, I know mine is.  So here we go with a few recommendations, but remember with the information WineGuyMike™ has provided you with you should now be able to approach the shelf as an empowered consumer.  You will be able to make the best purchase in your desired price range with this information.  Now for the Champagne and Sparkling Wine recommendations.

Recommendations

Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

 
 

Schramsberg 2007 Brut Rose

Schramsberg 2007 Brut Rose

 

Schramsberg 2007 Brut Rosé is flavorful, complex and dry, making it both versatile with food and delicious by itself as an apéritif.  The character of the wine is most strongly influenced by bright, flavorful Pinot Noir grown in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas. A few small lots of Pinot Noir are fermented in contact with their skins to add depth and subtle color to this unique sparkling wine. Chardonnay gives spice, structure and length on the palate.

Hand picking, careful handling and gentle pressing produce a wine of delicacy, free of skin and seed tannin.  Following the fall harvest and base winemaking period, an extensive process of blending trial and refinement is carried out in the spring.  The finished blend is aged on the yeast in the bottle for about two years, just enough to achieve refined effervescence and toastiness without diminishing its refreshing, vibrant appeal.

“Juicy strawberry jumps out of the glass, followed by raspberry and cherries.  The berry bouquet is complimented by mandarin orange and papaya.  The palate has exotic flavors of mango and cantaloupe, followed by mouthwatering citrus. A juicy viscosity leads to a long, lingering finish.”

– Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies

Enjoy this rich, delicious sparkler on almost any occasion: at your favorite restaurant, a special dinner at home, at a beach picnic or a backyard barbecue. A very versatile wine; try it with sushi, salmon, rock shrimp, pizza, roast chicken, BBQ ribs, burgers, chocolate raspberry tarts and creamy cheeses with summer fruits. 

L’ERMITAGE 2002 – ($45.00)

Roederer L'ERMITAGE 2002

Roederer L'ERMITAGE 2002

L’ERMITAGE is Roederer Estate’s special Tête de Cuvée, which has consistently been rated one of California’s top sparkling wines since its debut in 1989.  Taking a cue from owner Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate produces its sparkling wines in the traditional French methode champenoise and adds special oak-aged reserve wines to each blend.  L’ERMITAGE is made only in exceptional years, of pre-selected grapes that come from the very best lots.

WINEMAKER NOTES

Fine tiny bubbles and a long lasting mousse are the usual footprints of the L’ERMITAGE cuvée.  This cuvée from the palindromic vintage 2002 is showing great notes of “tarte tatin”: baked apples and buttery crust, with notes of apricot and delicate vanilla bean.  The mouthfeel is creamy, expresses flavors of quince and bread crust, with a clean and crisp yet long finish.

VINTAGE SUMMARY

The 2002 vintage was typical of the Anderson Valley cool climate. A dry spring and summer, with very few days of frost or heat, led to a beautiful set of the crop.  The pinot had small berry size which led to some concentrated and very aromatic wines.  Harvest start dates were August 23rd for Pinot Noir and September 4th for the Chardonnay.

WINEMAKING

Roederer Estate wines are made with juice from just the cuvée pressing; no première or deuxième taille is used.  The concept of the vintage L’Ermitage is the same one that is used in Champagne: Only the best of the vintage is selected.  These are exceptional wines that create a “noble” (special) blend that allows for longer aging, which produces a fine wine with elegance and finesse.   Four members of the blending team include winemakers from Champagne Louis Roederer in France and Roederer Estate in California, together totaling over 130 years of experience.  The wine for the dosage added to the 2002 L’ERMITAGE was 2002 wine liquor aged for 5 years in a French oak cask.   Following disgorgement, L’ERMITAGE was aged an additional six months (minimum) on the cork prior to release.

Argyle 2006 Brut

Argyle 2006 Brut

·         Argyle 2007 Brut – 90 PT. Wine Spectator Rating, 63% Oregon Chardonnay, 37% Oregon Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wine Knudsen Vineyards, Lone Star Vineyard Willamette Valley AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($25.00) Prepare to be fascinated by this alluring sparkling vintage.  The aromas are a weaving together of the best that fine sparkling wines deliver.  Look for vanilla spiced pear fruit with very floral citrus blossom scents.  A lovely yeastiness blends nicely with fresh baguette bouquet.  There’s a hint of Fresca-like citrus in there too.  The palate is VIBRANT and chock full of tiny bubbles.  Pear to red apple fruit folds nicely into vanilla spice.  The texture is creamy-plus, providing amazing richness while remaining zippy and citrusy.  The yeast flavor has evolved into filo dough right out of the oven.   These flavors go on and on after the wine is gone.  

SaintHilaire 2005 Brut

SaintHilaire 2005 Brut

 

  • Saint-Hilaire($12.99)Blanquette de Limoux is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world. We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.

By 1794 Blanquette de Limoux was well known and appreciated throughout France.  About that time, it was discovered by a famous American, Thomas Jefferson.

Among his other talents, the third American President was an expert on French Wines and Blanquette de Limoux, one of his favorites, was an integral part of his wine cellar.  In fact, President Jefferson was probably the first person to bring the wine to America.

Today, Blanquette de Limoux has won the acclaim of knowledgeable wine enthusiasts throughout the world.

It is sold in the United States under the name SAINT-HILAIRE in honor of the monks who first created the wine more than 475 years ago. One taste of SAINT- HILAIRE quickly reveals why France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine is also its’ best.

The Limoux vineyards are located in Languedoc, in Southern France, at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. The grapes are selected from clay-limestone plots that capture both the Oceanic and Mediterranean influences.

All of the grapes are picked by hand and the wine is produced using the Traditional Method of secondary fermentation in the bottle….the same method used for Champagne.  Minimum 12 months of horizontal aging in the bottle

Dry, toasty, smooth and clean SAINT-HILAIRE truly captivates with an attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty enough.

  • Crémant d’Alsace Brut Lucien Albrecht – Grape: Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc.

    Origin of the grapes: the vineyards on clay-chalky soil are all in the Orschwihr commune, a large vine-growing area in Southern Alsace which has an early micro climate.Analytical characteristics:
    – 12° proof
    – completely malolactic fermentationCrémant d’Alsace Brut Lucien Albrecht is only produced from the cuvée (only the first pressings from the press).Characteristics:
    – attractive sober color, flowery nose, fine and persistent head, very elegant and balanced mouth.
  • Banfi Rosa Regale – In 1979, John and Harry Mariani, family proprietors of Banfi Vintners, acquired a mid-18th century winery, known as Bruzzone, revitalized it and renamed the facility Vigne Regali.  Here, with the same detailed care as a century ago, our skilled winemakers produce “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d’Acqui D.O.C.G.  This rare Brachetto, a semi-dry, red sparkling wine cherished by the courts of Europe over two centuries ago, owes its reincarnation to Banfi.

Rosa Regale is created in one of Italy’s smallest production zones, the Brachetto d’Acqui Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, commonly referred to as DOCG.  It is crafted from 100% Brachetto grapes grown exclusively at the La Rosa Vineyard in the town of Acqui Terme located in the Piedmont region of Italy.  The label features a single red rose, representing the wines origin from this single vineyard La Rosa estate.

Rosa Regale has a delicate bouquet of rose petals and offers sensuous flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries. Its effervescence is softer than that of champagne, yet it yields a persistent and delicate pink froth.  Its lively garnet color makes other sparklers pale in comparison.  Served chilled and with a low alcohol content, it serves as the perfect partner throughout the entire meal, beginning as an elegant aperitif, moving to a savory appetizer and ending with a sweet dessert. No wine pairs better with chocolate than Rosa Regale.  The bright fresh berry flavors complement the sweet velvet of the chocolate.  Rosa Regale is a seductive red sparkler that turns any occasion into a celebration.

Rosa Regale is produced using the Charmat process.  This method forces the second fermentation to happen in large stainless steel tanks prior to bottling, rather than in the bottle like the traditional méthod champenoise.  This process is best used on sparkling wines that are meant to be enjoyed young and relatively fresh.

Cava, Prosecco, and Asti Spumante

 

Saracco Mocato d'Asti

Saracco Mocato d'Asti

 

Saracco Moscato D´ Asti ($15.00’ish) – Perfume of fresh peach, pear and aromatic white flowers. A gentle sparkle brightens the fruit and a tingle of sweetness hints of candied fruits.  This wine is perfect as refreshing aperitif or a light finish to a meal.  Saracco has perfected the balance of acid and residual sugar to make an incredibly light and floral sparkling wine.

Freixenet 

  • Cordon Negro Brut – 87 POINTS, BEST BUY(under $10.00)
    “This is your quintessential simple quaffamong brut cavas.lt’s clean, lime-tinged and soda-like on the nose, with a correct, no-issues palate that pushes zesty apple along with sweet papaya, mango and banana flavors.  It’s slightly sweet and tropical, but still it holds onto its crisp qualities and dryness. No complaints for the money.”
    Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2010 
  • Cordon Negro Extra Dry  – 86 POINTS(under $10.00)
    “Clean and approachable, with lemon-lime aromas leading to an easy, mildly crisp palate with lemon, lime and honeydew flavors. Sweet in accordance with standard extra dry guidelines,and also good for aperitifs and sparkling cocktails.”
    Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2010 
  • Brut Nature – 88 POINTS(under $15.00)
    “Crisp as it should be, with fit aromas of apple, fresh lettuce and honey.  The palate is crystal clear in its delivery of lemon, apple and green banana, while the finish is vivacious and runs the distance.  Quite satisfying and fairly serious given its under-$15 provenance.”
    Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 15, 2008 

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva – ($5.99) Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, created from a blend of reserve and non-vintage wines, is clean and delicate, yet rich in flavor.  A cuvée of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes grown in the renowned Alt Penedès region of Spain, the wine is vinified according to méthode champenoise technique and is aged in the bottle for a minimum of three years.

This fine cuvée is fairly crisp with an interesting floral note and mouth-pleasing sensation of creaminess.

Cristalino

Cristalino Brut Rose Cava

Cristalino Brut Rose Cava

 

  • Brut Rose´ Cava – 60% Pinot Nior, 40% Trepat(under $10.00)

Beautiful scents of raspberry and cherry on the nose with fresh, clean strawberry and cherry flavors in the mouth and a consistent bead. The finish is clean and crisp and invites another sip.

Cristalino Brut Rose Cava is an excellent match for fried appetizers such as calamari or light desserts such as creme brulee. It is also excellent on its own or with fresh fruit.

Cristalino Brut Cava

Cristalino Brut Cava

  • Brut Cava($5.99) – Straw color, smooth and fresh aromas; fine and fruity palate with a dry aftertaste. Clean, dry and crisp with citrus and apple flavors.
     

WineGuyMike’s Wine Lingo

Astringent – This refers to a drying sensation in the mouth that may make you pucker.  It is common in young full bodied red wines such as a Cabernet or a Zinfandel.  This is caused by high tannin content in the wine.  Tannin is a tactile sensation, not a taste.

Balance this term is one that would refer to a harmony of fruit, tannin, acid, and alcohol.  There may be a nuance of fruit in a wine but it would not be so overwhelming that it would be out of balance or harmony when considering the other characteristics of a wine.

Cheesemonger this term refers to someone who sells cheese, in this case a specialist or purveyor of artisanal cheeses. 

Crisp – Fresh, Bright, Young, and Slightly Acidic.  Wine Types are Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Chablis

Grassy – Refers to Herbal Characteristics often associated with Sauvignon Blanc

Meritage – pronounced just like “Heritage”, is a proprietary term used to denote red and white Bordeaux-style wines without infringing on the Bordeaux region’s legally protected designation of origin.  Winemakers must license the Meritage trademark from its owner, the California-based Meritage Alliance.  Member wineries are found principally in the United States, though increasingly elsewhere.

Oaky – A reference to a nuance in a wine resulting from wooden oak barrels that wines are aged in.  This term is common to Chardonnay’s and Cabernet wines.

Rose´ ­- “pinkish”(French).  Depending on the grapes and winemakers style the wines can be colored from vivid orange to nearly a purple hue.

Terroir is a French term for the notion that the complex combination of soil, climate, exposition and local tradition define the style of wine, a taste of the earth.

Velvety – This term characterizes a wines texture.  This term would be used with a wine that has a rich and supple mouth feel.

Wine Tasting Flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.

Match the words that you think make sense; these words are descriptors for wine:

Bright = Flinty an epiphany in your mouth

Rich = Subtle mellow, smooth, decadent, just easy and fulfilling

Lively = Crisp the wine is refreshing, a zing, literally comes to life in your mouth

Intense = Juicy big, bold, forward just tastes like fruit you could bite into

Velvety = Aromatic sexy, goes down like silk, fills the room with its aroma

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© with Scott and Paula on The Ranch 07/28/10


Check out the radio show on The Ranch 107.1FM or 97.9FM in The Bitterroot Valley.  How about a live stream feed at www.107theranch.com.

The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs weekly on Wednesday mornings at 8:20AM MDT, come and join in on the fun you never know what we are going to talk about.  Each week we will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

The show is sponsored by Grizzly Liquor, “Missoula’s Best Choice”.  Follow Grizzly Liquor on their Facebook fan page – Grizzly Liquor Missoula

WineguyMike™ Radio Show© has a new additional sponsor we would like to welcome today.  The Lolo Creek Steak House, “rare yet well done”, located in Lolo, MT.  Find them online at http://www.lolocreeksteakhouse.com

Today’s WineGuyMike™ recommendations at Grizzly Liquor; Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah 2008

Today’s winning questions from the WineGuyMike™ fan page are from Joely Hiniker and Tootie Welker.

Q. Joely asks; Mike I am having a party on Aug 6th and it is a cocktail and summertime dessert party.  What kind of Wine should I serve with cool and refreshing desserts?:

A. WineGuyMike suggests:

  • Asti Spumante – An Italian White Sparkling Wine that goes well with fresh fruits and Biscotti
  • Noble Rot or Late Harvest Riesling Wine for fruit tarts and creme brulee.
  • Madeira goes well with milk chocolate, coffee and mocha flavored desserts, or crème caramel
  • Pedro Ximenez Sherry is a perfect selection to go with vanilla ice cream.  Pour the Sherry  over the top of the ice cream for a great dessert
  • Port pairs well with Stilton cheese, dark chocolate desserts, and poached pears
  • Sauternes – A sweet white wine from Bordeaux,  will match up well with crème brulee, fruit tarts, poached fruits, caramel desserts, or a Roquefort cheese
  • Vouvray –  A white wine from The Loire Valley, will go great with tarts , and fresh fruits
  • Muscat Beaumes de Venise – A sweet white wine from the Rhone Valley will be terrific with fruit, fruit sorbets, crème brulee, or a lemon tart

Okay Joely this should give you a lot to choose from paired with general dessert ideas, and what time did you say the party started?

Q. Tootie asks WineGuyMike™; What is the best wine to serve with tofu stir fry’s?  Typically include onions, garlic, ginger, eggplant with a red curry sauce.

A. Alright this is where the WineGuyMike™ Wine & Dine application comes in.  Click on this link and it will take you to The WineGuyMike™ wine and food pairing application.

Link: http://winendine.snapapps.com/Default.aspx

  1. Click Food and Wine pairing
  2. Select Vegetarian
  3. Select Tofu
  4. Select Fried
  5. Select Curry

Your recommended wines are Gewurztraminer (Spicy White Wine from France, Germany, and California) and Sauvignon Blanc for this dish.

WineGuyMike™ recommended wine of the week:

Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah

Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah

Montes Cherub Rose´ of Syrah 2009 – After several years of experimentation, Aurelio Montes settled on producing a rosé from Syrah, a grape he made famous in Chile with the country’s first-ever Ultra Premium 100% Syrah called Montes’ Folly in 2002.

As explained by Aurelio, “I decided to make a rosé from Syrah grown in our Archangel Estate in Marchigüe, in the Colchagua Valley.  Their vineyards are in a coastal area which provides the perfect temperature and conditions for producing a lovely, ripe rosé.  He chose Syrah because this grape has a wonderful purple-red color and gives fresh yet structured wines that can be enjoyed as an apéritif or with food.”

Located only 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the cool breezes from the western facing slopes, together with the loamy soils, result in a slow maturation of the grapes which allowed for the perfect balance of citrusy acidity and bursting, ripe fruit.  The Syrah grapes were hand-picked and sorted to ensure that only the finest grapes were used to make Cherub.

The grapes were gently crushed, then transported by gravity to the tanks below in the winery where they then underwent “Vin d’une Nuit”.  This is a process of cold maceration where the must (grape juice before fermentation) is left in contact with the skins overnight (for approximately eight hours) to fully extract color and aromas and infuse the wine with flavor.  Once the juice was racked until totally clear, it underwent alcoholic fermentation using selected yeast at 50º F for 20 days.  To maintain the freshness of the wine, it did not undergo oak aging.

Montes’ Cherub is a seductive, elegant, dry wine, with an intense cherry-pink color.  It is a well-made expression of the grape variety and terroir.  On the nose and the palate, it demonstrates a distinctive Syrah character with spiciness and hints of strawberries, rose and orange peel. With good fruit concentration, it shows richness in texture across the palate that leads to a delightfully long finish.  It has a strong backbone of acidity and a slight amount of tannin that gives the wine a defined structure.

Recipe Pairing; Pesto Pork Pinwheels – Serves:  4; ¼ pound servings each – Pork tenderloin comes packaged two ways-either as a whole piece of pork or split in two pieces.  For this recipe we use one piece of pork tenderloin that weighs one pound.  If your one pound package comes split in two pieces, make two smaller pork rolls and reduce the cooking time to about 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 pound pork tenderloin, all visible fat removed

1 tablespoon commercial pesto or homemade pesto.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Butterfly tenderloin by cutting lengthwise almost in half.

Lay out flat.

Cover meat with plastic wrap.

Use a meat mallet to pound meat to a ¼-inch thickness.

Spread pesto over cut surface of tenderloin.

Roll up tenderloin from on of the short ends and tie with string in several places to secure.

Place tenderloin on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

Roast, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes or until the meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F.

Let stand 5 minutes.

Cut into slices.

Nutritional Information:

Calories 145

Protein            23 g

Carbohydrate 0 g

Cholesterol 74 mg

Sodium 78 mg

Total Fat 5 g

  Saturated 2 g

  Polyunsaturated 1 g

  Monounsaturated 2 g

WineGuyMike’s Wine Lingo

This week’s new wine term is; Astringent

Astringent – This refers to a drying sensation in the mouth that may make you pucker.  It is common in young full bodied red wines such as a Cabernet or a Zinfandel.  This is caused by high tannin content in the wine.  Tannin is a tactile sensation, not a taste.

Crisp – Fresh, Bright, Young, and Slightly Acidic.  Wine Types are Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Chablis

Grassy – Refers to Herbal Characteristics often associated with Sauvignon Blanc

Oaky – A reference to a nuance in a wine resulting from wooden oak barrels that wines are aged in.  This term is common to Chardonnay’s and Cabernet wines.

Velvety – This term characterizes a wines texture.  This term would be used with a wine that has a rich and supple mouth feel.

Match the words that you think make sense; these words are descriptors for wine:

Bright = Flinty an epiphany in your mouth

Rich = Subtle mellow, smooth, decadent, just easy and fulfilling

Lively = Crisp the wine is refreshing, a zing, literally comes to life in your mouth

Intense = Juicy big, bold, forward just tastes like fruit you could bite into

Velvety = Aromatic sexy, goes down like silk, fills the room with its aroma

From My Table to Yours,

WineGuyMike™

WineGuyMike

WineGuyMike