I’m not sure about you, but I am personally still in the sparkling wine season. We went from New Year’s celebrations to Lunar New Year and now Valentine’s Day. I’m a big proponent of the sentiment that any time is a good time for bubbles – from the simple and enjoyable, to the noteworthy, and to the rich and complex. The sound of that cork popping means it’s time to grab a glass and to take a moment to enjoy life.
Prosecco, a charming sparkling wine from Italy, makes for a delightful brunch wine and mimosa base. The method for making this wine is known as the Charmant method – a pressurized tank method that quickly produces wine with carbonation within a few months. Made from the glera grape, often with notes of green apple, pear, and sometimes honeydew - these wines are meant to be easy drinking so that one can focus on the company, conversation, and feast around them. La Marca may be the largest producer, but they are a cooperative made of nearly 400 local families and produce quality wine at high volume. Smaller producers to look for are Acinum (they use native yeast during the fermentation process and have created a prosecco with a complex and richer mid-palate) and a couple of intriguing Asolo Proseccos that are “Col Fondo.” Col Fondo means that they go through part of the fermentation process in the bottle (leaving some sediment) but have fermented to the point of being completely dry – 0 grams of residual sugar (compared to maybe 8-14 grams per liter for most on the market). These proseccos are redolent of citrus, herbs, and a salinity in mid-palate that screams for cheese, charcuterie, or even sushi rolls. Martingnago – Vignaiolo Colli Trevigiani Col Fondo Agricolo and Case Paolin Asolo Prosecco Sui Lieviti Brut Nature Col Fondo are great examples.
Noteworthy sparkling wines, perhaps a bit more serious than prosecco with more bubbles and more nuances are the crémants of France. Crémants are made in the same way as Champagne, so they will express more complexity on the palate – but they are made from various regions around France, often featuring local grapes. Crémant de Limoux ( the world’s oldest sparkling wine circa 1531), made largely from Chardonnay, can also include Chenin Blanc, Mauzac, and Pinot Noir. Often, they have notes of citrus, pineapple, and stone fruit – look for Hecht & Bannier or Domaine J Laurens. Crémant de Bourgogne is another charmer, made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Aliogoté, and/or Gamay. These can display a freshness of fruit, brioche
and yeasty notes from the champagne method of fermentation, all whilst maintaining refreshing acidity. Simonnet-Febvre and Louis Bouillot are just a couple of wonderful producers to seek out. These are the sparkling wines that can see you through a weeknight meal.
But sometimes, you reach into the cellar or splurge at the wine shop for an epic bottle of Champagne. Perhaps it’s a Pol Roger Sir Winton Churchill, Krug Rosé, Bollinger Grande Année, or the newly released Roederer Collection 242. Due to the Champagne method of production, these wines will be rich and complex as they see extended time on lees. Lees are expired yeast and when they lay in contact with wine, they add to a richer mouthfeel and the lovely brioche notes that we taste. These are the wines to celebrate a moment, to toast your promotion, to cheer your sweetheart with, and to contemplate.
Cheers! Please inquire with Mariano to source any of the wines mentioned.