Wines Sparkle For More Than Special Occasions



Some sparkling wine recommendations.


By Louis Marmon


Gazette Newspapers  January 28, 2009


Chandon Reserve BrutResist the temptation to assign unused bottles of holiday Champagne and other sparklers to next year’s festivities and look for reasons to share them now. The balanced acidity of sparkling wines makes them food-friendly, and they come in sufficient styles, flavors and prices to fit most budgets and tastes.


And if you don’t have any bottles left over, go pick some up. With the end of the holiday season, the demand for sparkling wines has decreased. Retailers are looking to clear their shelves and bargains abound.


Dry non-vintage sparkling wines are usually fruity and fairly straightforward so they work well with lighter fare like pasta, egg and seafood dishes. Dry vintage wines are crafted from higher-quality grapes grown during a single year. Their flavors are more complex, in part because they are usually aged longer than non-vintage wines. They pair nicely with richer dishes like cream- and mushroom-based sauces, aged cheese and caviar. A Rose is delicious with foie gras, roast chicken and grilled fish, while the sweeter versions including Demi Sec, are terrific with spicy dishes like curry as well as slightly sweet desserts and fresh berries.


Don’t be afraid to experiment. Sparkling wine with potato chips is a decadent delight. Try a Brut with tempura or French fries, a Blanc de Blanc with sushi, and a Rose with pizza. Create a cocktail by adding some liquor to a flute of sparkling wine. A bit of Creme de Cassis makes a Kir Royal; a Velvet Swing is created by mixing in a half ounce each of Port and Cognac to six ounces of sparking wine.


There are many high quality, less expensive sparkling alternatives to Champagne including Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco and Cremants produced in Alsace and elsewhere in France.


The charming Jean-Baptiste Adam Cremant de Alsace Brut NV ($17) is a medium-bodied floral, toasty citrus and peach flavored effort. The tasty brioche scented, apple and ginger flavored Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Sur Loire Pétillant 2006 ($25) is produced in the Loire Valley.


Two good Spanish sparklers are the Gran Gesta Cava Brut Reserva NV ($14), with apple, lemon and peach notes, and the Canals Nadal Brut Cava Reserva 2003 ($20), with biscuit and citrus aromas along with orange, apple and peach flavors.


The apple scented Rotari Talento Reserva 2003 ($19)is an enjoyable Italian sparkler. Aged two years longer than usual, it exhibits crisp melon, pear and apple flavors with a creamy finish. The Bellussi Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene NV ($10) is a bargain with an interesting minerality along with refreshingly bright white peach notes. Also slightly sweet is the lovely, almond scented Adriano Adami Dei Casel Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry NV ($12) that has nicely integrated apricot, apple and lemon flavors.


An excellent American option is the Domaine Chandon Reserve Pinot Noir Brut NV ($17; it spans the spectrum of sparkling wine styles with expressive yeast, hazelnut and biscuit flavors. Also very good are the tasty pear and peach scented J Vineyards Cuvee 20 NV ($20) and the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV ($17), with green-apple aromas gliding smoothly into nutty pear and lime notes. Consider toasting our new President with creamy lemon and ginger flavored Schramsberg North Coast Blanc de Blancs 2005 ($35) since its 1972 cousin was served by Richard Nixon to Chou en Lai during his visit to China.



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