Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Bubbles - Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Posted by JonDerry, Apr 24, 2016.

Have started to see the appeal in Champagne and other quality sparkling wine more and more lately. It's a festive drink with high drinkability and pleasure, provided you are drinking within the wine's general drinking window. I can remember my eldery godmother saying on one of our visits that she couldn't drink wine anymore due to her stomach issues, "but champagne is different."

Here are a couple I've enjoyed recently, one CA sparkling but methode champenoise.

2013 Dirty & Rowdy Sparkling Pinot Blanc (Traditional Method)

Being used to Champagne and the occasional Blanc de Blancs sparkler, there were a couple quick adjustments to make here; one being that the fruit was quite a bit more expressive, and that it wasn't Chardonnay (or PN/PM). With that out of the way, I found this very enjoyable and drinkable with nice, solid freshness to the fruit (despite its weightier texture), and also interesting flavors of apples, mixed nuts, and a hint of wheat bread. Paired very well, and was the life of the party with a variety of Thai food.

Winery Notes: The traditional method is the uptown cousin to the country Pet-Nat. Upon opening, there is a wild yeastiness that is supported by ripe pear, lean, elegant lines and tiny bubbles. With a few minutes of air, the ripe pear settles to green mango, the music of the spheres, water chestnut crispness, and a fancy, napkin on your lap finish.


This NV G. Bruno Grand Reserve Champagne was recently offered by Ian Cauble's Somm Select. The description of the wine caught my interest, along with the price point of $42.00 Definitely glad I grabbed a couple, in fact, I could easily have a good time consuming half a case of this stuff this year alone, so may have to get some more.

My notes: Shows good depth of flavor, fairly broad profile, slightly creamy across the palate with subdued citrus and peanut impressions, and good medium freshness. Found this pretty open knit and ready to drink. Spec sheet said 15% older reserve fruit, though I'm not sure how old that portion is. The rest aged 3-5 years on their lees, and raised in stainless steel. I like the results. Truly enjoyed this. 30% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay. Over the next five years.

Somm Select Notes: Drinking great Champagne does not have to be expensive, but it does take some searching to find serious examples under $50. Our never ending search for these uncovered treasures has been amply rewarded with today's wine. Champagne Guy Brunot's Grand Reserve Brut hals from Premier Cru vineyards in the Vallee de la Marne village of Dizy, about 4km west of Epernay. This bespoke Champagne is crafted in chalk cellars below a modest, street side home that turns out just over 2,000 cases a year. With roughly four hectares, they own just enough vines to qualify for the bare minimum to calssify as a Recoltant Manipulant - or growever producer. What they lack in size, they make up for in pure, handcrafted quality. With beautifully broad texture, low dosage, and a creaminess from 4 years on lees, this stunning example is reminiscent of bottles many times its price.

Founded in 1957, Guy Brunot continues to be a third-generation famlily-run operation focusing on world-class quality over quantity. The family tends their roughly four hectares by hand. Following a manual harvest, the fruit is taken below the family's glorified cottage in the center of Dizy and crafted with traditional methods. Primary fermentation, as well as malo, are completed in stainless steel. The second fermentation takes place in bottle as tradition ensues and the wine ages on its fine lees for 3-5 years, depending on the blend. All riddling and disgorgement is done entirely by hand. The final blend is derived from roughly equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier with 15% older reserve.


Reply by dmcker, Apr 24, 2016.

Good subject, JD. I'll revisit the thread later when I have time, and hopefully others will participate, too.

Reply by GregT, Apr 26, 2016.

It was never my favorite style of wine but I do appreciate it from time to time. My wife and I actually split a bottle recently - first ever in over 25 years.

But you can find some pretty good stuff around. It's one of CA's best values actually - when we've done blind tastings putting six CA versions vs six Champagnes, the CA's usually come out over the French versions.

And Spain is even more interesting - Cava has the same reqs that still wines do - reserva, gran reserva, etc. The market for cava is so dominated by two firms that people think it's all $5 wine, but that's not true at all. Recently they changed the rules to allow Chardonnay, which is OK I guess, since I don't like the idea of mandating grape varieties, but I don't understand why they would do that instead of keeping to Spanish grapes.

And of course, sparkling wine also includes sparkling Shiraz, which is its own special category, as well as Lambrusco.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 26, 2016.

What you really need to look for, Greg, is that version of champers called 'blanc de noirs'. You probably haven't heard of it, but in addition to the fizz it's got some ingredients you're sure to like!  ;-)

Have always wondered why Sekt never gets mention here or most anywhere else. Probably because it gets snapped up internally in Germany, and doesn't employ the aid of PR machines. Back in the late '70s, early '80s used to order continuous case lots of the stuff, not least because I had a connection. Generally better than any Cava available then. Since then, from time to time, I'll grab a glass or bottle, mostly in Europe. Some of it's made not by the charmant method but 'traditionelle', and if you run across one, grab it.

Reply by outthere, Apr 26, 2016.

'12 Ultramarine Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir Charles Heintz Vyd - This really developed over the course of 3-1/2 hrs. Great aromatics of rose petals and dried cherries. One of those wines you just keep going back and burying your nose in. Bone dry palate with surprising depth and a great mineral edge to it. This far exceeded the '11 I had last year. Wonderful local bubbles.

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 26, 2016.

Looks like a winner OT, I really like the idea of PN in sparkling wine, and think it would be a more tolerable expression of it for Greg.

Sekt is something I've never heard of, will have to see about finding some.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 26, 2016.

Then there're always obscure-but-uniquely-good versions of Spumante from Alpine Italy like this one, which I like better than most Proseccos. Great with oysters, amongst others...

Reply by GregT, Apr 27, 2016.

Well D now that there blankdenoir sounds like something I'd like to guzzle down fast!

Speaking of that I have to give a shout out to Larry Shaffer. I had his Mourvedre rosado a little while ago. It's almost pure white. And it's got some tannins. He said he had like a couple hours of skin contact - really interesting. Quite good. If he made a sparkling wine, that would be a great candidate.

Sekt is interesting - you almost never find it but if you're going to make sparkling wine, it's so logical that Germany would be the place to do it and yet it's a great example of the marketing that the French have excelled at. I've been to plenty of tastings where German vinters were showing off their wines, and I can't recall any Sekt. Odd.

But, I have had English sparkling wine and recently history was repeated - just like in the 1976 Paris tasting with the CA wines vs France, the Brits took top honors and were mistaken as French.

Reply by Degrandcru, Apr 30, 2016.

One has to be careful with Sekt... a few big companies like Henkels dominate the market with cheap, poor quality Sekt. Those is mostly the Sekt you find outside of Germany. But lots of small winemakers in Germany make great "traditional method" Sekt mostly out of Riesling. In Germany those are called "Winzersekt" (meaning they are made by small winemakers, not big companies). Those can be great values and show another amazing side of the Riesling grape. 

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 30, 2016.

I see Leitz makes a Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) Sekt at a reasonable price. K&L sells it.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 4, 2016.

Yeah, Sekt has shot itself in the foot pretty well on the rare occasions when it gets over here.  I guess when Germans want something carbonated, they turn back to beer. 

Cal sparklers have improved a ton since the '80s, when most of what was available was just terrible.  Even the stuff made by the French, like the Chandon, really didn't work for me. But things are looking up, especially in the Anderson Valley.  Just hoping that global warming doesn't mess that up. 

Personally, I try to drink sparklers often, before we have dinner with company when possible.  Sure, it's commonly viewed as celebratory. so let's celebrate more often instead of holding onto it.  This weekend, we'll have my mother over for Mother's day.  We'll probably do a sparkling Chenin.  Now that's a grape that works in sparkling wine and gets not enough respect.  Which means good deals.

Reply by dmcker, May 4, 2016.

Fox, Germans drink tons of Sekt and other sparklers, too. Would possibly put up a good showing against beer. Too lazy and busy to go chase down stats right now but they shouldn't be that hard to find.

And there are definitely good bottles of Sekt out there. Can't answer for what's making it through the vicissitudes of the US markets now, but they exist. Once you open your mind and stop listening to the northeastern French (and the Catalans on a lower level) to the exclusion of all others you can find lots of enjoyable sparkling wine across Europe. CA is relatively good value, as Greg mentions, and Oz is even better value though may be a rung or two lower on the quality ladder.

Reply by outthere, May 11, 2016.

This Remy was a fun addition to Mothers Day festivities. Nutty notes to accent the dry Chardonnay.

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