TASTING SPARKLING WINES

Nobody can stop the growth of sparkling wines! They are tasty, they are fresh, they are elegant; they go well before meals, with the meal and even afterwards… And they are getting rid of the “celebration drink” tag and starting to be consumed daily. Well done bubblies! 

In June, Vinexpo 2017 was held in Bordeaux. It’s one of the most important wine trade shows. In this four-day exposition, I separated a day only for sparkling wines, to taste and learn as much as I can. In this post, I’d like to share with you the highlights of these tastings. These are the categories of the sparkling wines I tasted:

  • Prosecco Superiore
  • Cremant d’Alsace
  • Sekt
  • Cava
  • Champagne
  • Sparkling wine

Prosecco Superiore

‘Do you know the difference between Prosecco and Prosecco?’ This was the first question that the winemaker asked us when we approached the stand of Bortolin Angelo. ‘Prosecco and Prosecco?’ Interesting… Then he explained himself: The Prosecco they’re producing with a qualitative process from vineyard to bottle deserves a full distinction from other Proseccos. They even created a Prosecco pyramid to explain these differences between different Proseccos. On the top of the Prosecco pyramid, it’s Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze D.O.C.G., a small area with only 107 hectares giving exceptional Prosecco.

Bortolin Angelo Spumanti, produces 5 different sparkling wines in appellation of ConeglianoValdobiaddene D.O.C.G. They have Spumante extra dry, Spumante brut, Rive di Guia Brut Sommaval, Spumante dry ‘Desiderio’ and Spumante dry Superiore di Cartizze. There is a nice story behind the design of the labels and the bottle. They are inspired from the vineyard; the shape of the bottle is like the twisting branches of the vine and the color of the labels are the colors of the land of Valdobbiaddene. The elegant shape of the bottle which eases to grab the bottle is patented.

Cremant d’Alsace

Riesling is one of the grapes which are allowed to process in the appellation of Cremant d’Alsace. Nowadays, the sparkling wines from Riesling are getting more popular. This variety gives great bubbles thanks to its high acidity and appealing aromas.

Walking down to Alsace stand, I had the chance to taste cremants of Jean Geiler. It’s a producer who has the aim to present terroirs AOC Alsace with their inspiration from Riesling. We’ve tasted 4 of their cremants, Riesling brut, Rosé brut, Brut prestige and finally Cuvée 1926. Considering the quality/price ratio, these wines definitely weigh more on the side of the quality.

Sekt

Germany is the country with the highest annual capita consumption of sparkling wine with five liters and sekt is their emblematic sparkling wine. Since the producers are aware of the consumers who tend to consume high quality varietal sparklings, they are focused on increasing the quality. A tasting in the Germany booth proved that they are doing a great job in this. Although Sekt can be made with base wines brought from other countries, if you see a bottle with the name of the region or simply labelled as “Deutscher Sekt” that means it’s made with German wine. It was the case of Braunewell winery, they made sparkling wine with Riesling grapes from Rheinhessen. Unlike the most Sekt made with the tank method, this wine is bottle fermented, so you can feel the creaminess on the palate, and adds a layer of yeasty notes.  

sekt

Cava

Cava is the denomination of origin from Spain, including a number of areas, producing traditional method sparkling wines. The heart of the cava Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in Catalonia, where Pere Ventura winery is located. Majority of their sparkling wines are made with the traditional varieties of the region, Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada and Trepat, but also Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Champagne

Champagne is an appellation of sparkling wine that was built over the years to showcase high quality, exclusivity with a strong fame and name.

During Vinexpo, I had the chance to visit the booths of Joseph Perrier, Nicolas Feuillatte, Moët Hennessy and Drappier. In each booth, we got to taste amazing cuvées and listen to their stories. More than a couple of them stand out for me. The first one is Josephine from Joseph Perrier. It’s in a very decorative bottle inspired by an old hand painted magnum, which was found in the cellars by Jean-Claude Fourmon. The following ones were the Palmes d’Or 2006 Brut and Brut Rosé. Both very attractive, elegant, aromas that come together in perfect harmony.

In the Moët Hennessy booth, you could taste all their brands, it’s a good opportunity to get to know them better and discover the differences of each label. The bottles that stand out during this tasting were Ruinart Blanc de Blanc and Ruinart Rosé. The winemaker explained to us the huge importance they give to Chardonnay to simply reflect itself on their cuvées, and she described this cuvée as “simply a great Champagne”.

The most interesting Champagne of the day was at Drappier. It’s called Quattuor, produced with the four white grape varieties that can be used in appellation Champagne. Normally Chardonnay is the white variety that’s used in Champagne production, but there are other permitted whites as well. They are Arbanne, Blanc Vrai and Petit Meslier. It’s a great way to give value to all the grapes produced in the region, and show the diversity in the vineyards.

Sparkling wine

This section is devoted to Chandon, and their sparkling wines produced all around the world: California, Argentina, India, China and Australia. Normally, if you want to taste all the sparkling wines of Chandon, you have to travel to the countries in which they are produced; because they are sold only locally or in very close areas to where it’s produced. Or you can attend a wine show like Vinexpo to taste them all at once. Each sparkling wine they make represents their countries of origin since they are produced according to the taste of the local people. For example, Chandon China is specifically developed to be consumed at room temperature, as Chinese prefer. Chandon India is to be consumed with a piece of cucumber or a leaf of mint. Chandon Australia has a bitter orange aroma in it, and you add a piece of orange zest in your glass. These are the small details taken into consideration to make the local consumer happy.

Yes, they are all sparkling wines. But they are very different. Different countries, different production methods and different stories behind. It’s simply a pleasure to taste sparkling wines around the world and meet the people who are writing the story of them.

Cheers,

Nesli

All images © 2017 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.

 

Categories: Wine Stories, Wines

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