Friday, August 29, 2008

Bubbly Bubbly Notes

Tuesday's class on the sparkling wines of Europe was a success, at least so I'm told. I've never had such a quiet, studious group before. A good thing, I hope. In any event, the wines showed well, including a surprise or two, so I thought a few quick notes would be in order. You know, just in case you didn't manage to follow along on short notice. Here's what I poured:

Bugey Cerdon VDQS, Raphaël Bartucci NV (L07)
Very direct Bugey, both in its fruitiness and unabashed sweetness. Pure macerated strawberries with just a whiff of spicy earth. Perfect picnic wine and a fun way to lead off class.

Prosecco Montello e Colli Asolani, Bele Casel NV
Crisper, brighter and not as creamy as the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene from the same producer. A nice mineral tingle on the finish, too. Very peachy up front. Extra Dry in style but drinks no sweeter than an awful lot of Brut wines. Very tough after the Bugey, though, as the sweet red fruits left on the palate tended to wash out the Prosecco, which isn't shy on fruit in its own right.

Bacharacher Kloster Furstental Riesling Sekt Brut, Weingut Ratzenberger 2003
2003 remains the fruitiest rendition of Ratzenberger's Sekt that I've ever tried. Some time in bottle since last I drank it, though, has allowed the fruit to settle a bit. In turn, that's letting its hallmark mineral and floral notes emerge more clearly and it's tasting more like the Traditionelle Flaschengärung (traditional method) wine that it is. The intensity of its fruit nonetheless had a few attendees thinking it was sweeter than the Prosecco (which it's not).

Vouvray Pétillant Brut, Domaine Huet 2002
Amazingly different than when last tasted, so much so that I at first thought I was dealing with a bad batch. The corks had no spring-back and initial aromas were intensely mushroomy and otherwise mute. It turned out that patience was all that was needed. After about an hour of open air, this turned into a beauty, though still surprisingly more developed than only two months earlier. Loads more Chenin character. Rich, wildflower honey and quince with just a touch of dried biscuit. Plenty dry but plenty generous and truly pétillant, showing just a subtle trace of bubbles when poured in a white wine glass.

Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, Diebolt-Vallois NV
This is an old friend, warm and welcoming. Like any old friend, it's sometimes neglected but it's always good to get reacquainted. When this wine is young, like the bottles opened this night, it just brims with creamy lemon curd flavors and aromas, carried on a light, nervy frame. Delicious Blanc de Blancs that might have unduly suffered from being sandwiched between two more intense wines.

Champagne Extra Brut Réserve, Bereche et Fils NV
This was the showstopper, kind of as expected. Muscular, grippy Champs, loaded with dark red fruits and displaying plenty of depth. Really finely balanced. This is a serious food wine, one I'd love to drink with a meal starting with a platter of oysters and moving on to chicken breasts with a thyme infused cream sauce and fresh morels. Real vinous extract. Even a little tannic on the finish. I expect this should age quite nicely.

Moscato d'Asti, G.D. Vajra 2007
If the Bugey makes for a perfect lunchtime quaff, this makes an ideal breakfast wine. A vibrant expression of Moscato Bianco. Fresh, grapey and intensely perfumed, it's totally refreshing and a real joy to drink. Vajra makes one of the most concentrated examples out there. A good way to finish class on a light, happy note.


Josh George said...

I discovered a unique frizzante (not quite sparkling)wine the other night on accident. I was whipping up simple cod dish with some heirloom tomatoes from upstate, a little chopped anchovy,capers, and a ton of garlic. Picked up an unknown bottle of Bera 2006 Arcese from Chambers St. thought it was some kind of malvasia thing from the south. Opened it up to splash some into the frying pan and it was all bubbles. First I thought it was some fermentation left in a cheap bottle then realized it was from Piedmont and it is supposed to be bubbly. Stone and melon, unique. Didn't go with the fish at all but had it the next night with some mortadella and a little muruzzano cheese.

David McDuff said...

Hey Josh,
Thanks for the note. I haven't tried Bera's Arcese but will have to look out for it. I wonder if it might have worked with the fish dish minus the capers.

Mike Drapkin said...

Hey, great notes. Wish I could have been there to see the shy,stubborn Huet pettilant get comfortable and speak its mind. What a beautiful voice that is.

Director of Lab Science said...

Did you let the kids vote on a favorite? Beautiful cage match you had staged. The Bereche fights in a different class, so not really fair. But beyond that my money would be on the Bugey. They're always a little sneaky serious behind all that fairground fruit and fun.

David McDuff said...

Hello Mike,
Agreed. The Huet was one of my wine's of the night. I think I'll stash away a bottle or two as I think it could get very interesting with another few years of aging on the cork.

The Bereche was indeed all class. There was so much info (and so many wines) to cover that class ran over time by about 30 minutes, at which point I didn't have time to take votes. My gut, based on the murmurings around the room, is that the Sekt and the Bereche were the hits of the night. I certainly didn't hear any complaints about the Bugey, though.

Luca Ferraro said...

Thank s for your beautiful post!

David McDuff said...

Ciao, Luca!

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I've been a big fan of your family's Prosecco for many a year, both the wines from Valdobbiadene and, more recently, Montello e Colli Asolani. Keep up the good work!

buon natale,

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