Tasting No. 194 – December 6, 2017 – Sparkling Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Jaime Jaramillo, Xavi Vila

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Ricardo Santiago, Xavi Vila, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to evaluate four different styles of sparkling wines, contrast their characteristics and rank them in order of preference.  The Presenters thought that it would be interesting to test how sparkling wines perform as the chosen wine for a full meal, especially one conceived as a holiday gathering with family or friends. It’s not that usual having only sparkling wine for dining, although this is a growing trend in some areas, and well consolidated in others like Catalonia.

These are the wines:

  1. Louis Bouillot – Blanc de Noirs, Brut – Crémant de Bourgogne, Cotes de Nuits St. Georges
  2. Albrecht Tradition – Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Crémant d’Alsace
  3. La Marca Prosecco – D.O.C. Italy
  4. Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura – Reserva, Brut – Cava – Penedés -Catalonia

3. The Menu

  1. Arugula and goat cheese salad
  2. Lobster soup
  3. Mushroom ravioli with cream
  4. Grilled salmon with vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

Louis Bouillot – Blanc de Noirs, Brut – Crémant de Bourgogne, Cotes de Nuits St. Georges

The Wine: The blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay gives a wine with weight and richness as well as a tight, mineral character. The wine is full in the mouth with its creamy mousse and fine pear and citrus fruits. A wine for food rather than apéritif.

Perle de Nuit has the characteristic pale mother-of-pearl hue of blanc de noirs sparkling wine. The nose is expansive, with delicate notes of small red berries evolving towards fruit in eau-de-vie. In the mouth, it’s all about the powerful, vinous structure provided by the Pinot Noir. Rich and balanced, it has a sustained fruity finish.

Perle de Nuit is made exclusively from the white juice of black grapes fro the north of Burgundy, mainly from vineyards in the Yonne, Couchois, Châtillonnais, and Côte d’Or areas. The Pinot Noir provides structure, while the Gamay packs the fruity punch. Gentle pneumatic pressing is carried out immediately after harvesting to conserve the maximum aromas. Ageing for 18 months allows Perle de Nuit to express all its power and elegance.

The Winery: Crémant de Bourgogne has been an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 1975. It covers a particularly large territory that stretches from the north of Burgundy to the south, covering the Chablis region, the Châtillonnais, the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise, the Côte Mâconnaise, and into the Beaujolais. Such diversity means that a wide range of different base wines can be created that reflect their terroir. This allows for the creation of subtle blends to achieve the perfect balance for each cuvée and to bring out the qualities of each varietal: Pinot Noir for fruit, structure and vinosity; Chardonnay for freshness and elegance; Gamay for tastiness; and Aligoté for vivacity. In fact it was in Rully, back in 1826 that the Petiot brothers made the first sparkling wines called ‘Fleur de Champagne’. It was a lightening success and other producers soon followed. Louis Bouillot has been producing the bubbly since 1877 in Nuits-St-Georges.

Read more at: http://www.louis-bouillot.com/en/

 Albrecht Tradition – Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Crémant d’Alsace

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Lucien Albrecht, Jean’s father, pioneered Crémant production in 1971 and helped gain an Appellation Contrôlêe for the wine and for Alsace. The wines vinified by the classic Champagne Method from 100% free run juice, are the best sparkling wines in France outside of Champagne itself. Recently Maison Lucien Albrecht was awarded four gold medals at a comprehensive National I.N.A.O. tasting of all sparkling wines in France, giving the firm more gold medals than any other Crémant producer in France. This Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% Pinot Blanc. The Blanc de Blancs is distinguished by a fine and elegant bead, a beautiful straw color; a light, delicate palate. It is delicious at any time of the day and with many foods.

This is a nice, soft and clean sparkling wine.  Up front it has a slightly floral aroma, along with apple, fig and a touch of citrus.  On the palate it’s creamy-smooth and delicious.  It has a nice crisp apple flavor and a perfect level of acidity. Bubble-wise, it’s medium fizzy.  The finish is a little on the short side, but that just means you won’t want to wait to take another sip of this superb sparkler.

The Winery:  The Maison Lucien Albrecht’s origins can be traced back to 1698, when Balthazar Albrecht settles in Orschwihr, to the south of Colmar (Haut-Rhin – Alsace), a small Alsatian village in an ideal location for growing vines. Eight generations continue to work the soils of this unique terroir with the same tenacity and passion, creating the reputation and authentic character of Alsace wines which are enjoyed and renowned worldwide. The Lucien Albrecht vineyards are mainly situated in Orschwihr, a wine-growing village in southern Alsace. From 728, Orschwihr is known under the name of Otalesvilare.

The exceptional sunshine on this hill favours the growth of rare flora and the proliferation of exclusive fauna, which give this wine-growing terroir an almost Mediterranean-type climate that is very hot and thus supports rare, unique and very precocious wildlife. The presence of numerous rare and medicinal plants has attracted herbalists and healers from time immemorial. It should be noted that the hill is now a protected area.  The soils of this very dry and calcareous type of terroir, which are also occasionally clayey and heavy, play a major role in defining the authentic character of Lucien Albrecht wines.

Read more at: https://www.lucien-albrecht.com/

 La Marca Prosecco – D.O.C. Italy

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: This sparkling wine is a pale, golden straw in color. Bubbles are full textured and persistent. On the nose the wine brings fresh citrus with hints of honey and white flowers. The flavor is fresh and clean, with ripe citrus, lemon, green apple, and touches of grapefruit, minerality, and some toast. The finish is light, refreshing, and crisp.

Prosecco is made of Glera grapes, formerly known also as prosecco. Glera, a white grape that has been grown in the Veneto and Friuli regions for hundreds of years. It’s a grape with high acidity, which makes it perfect for bubbly. Other grape varieties may be include in a prosecco, up to a maximum of 15% of the total, such as Verdiso, Bianchetta, Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. Prosecco can be lightly sparkling (frizzante) or fully sparkling (spumante) and can also vary based on the amount of residual sugar in the wine. While prosecco is not a sweet wine it can be categorized depending on the amount of residual sugar left and, therefore, the degree of dryness. From driest to sweetest we will find Brut, Extra Dry, Dry and Demi-Sec.

Prosecco, the wine is made using what is known as the Charmat or Martinotti method. Looking for a faster and less expensive way to create quality sparkling wine, Frenchman Eugene Charmat and, separately, Federico Martinotti in Italy, discovered what is now known as the Charmat-Martinotti method. In this method, the wine is transferred from its first fermentation vat to a large sealed pressurized tank where it undergoes secondary fermentation to create the carbonation. Then the carbonated wine is bottled and shipped to market.

The La Marca comes from Italy’s lush village of Prosecco, near Trieste, where the grape and wine originated. Prosecco Denomination of Origin is produced in nine provinces spanning the Veneto and Friuli, Venezia and Guilia areas.

The Winery: La Marca came into being in 1968 from the intuition of a noteworthy group of winegrowers who felt the need to introduce the quality of their local wines to the world. They came together to pool their energies and experience to protect and represent their wines with greater strength.

It was of the utmost importance to create a technical and commercial organization able to support the winegrowers in growing grapes and serve as a commercial platform to promote awareness of the area’s quality wines. The company continued to grow year after year working with high levels of professionalism on the quality, the image and typical characteristics of the territory.

La Marca is today a wine producing company representing the products of 9 cooperative wineries in the Province of Treviso with over 5000 winegrowers on vineyards extending over approximately 10.000 hectares. The majority of these lands is cultivated with Glera, named after the historic variety from which Prosecco is obtained.

The company is named for its place of origin, La Marca Trevigiana (March of Treviso), located in the heart of the Province of Treviso, between the plains and hills of the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Doc and DOCG areas (Controlled Designation of Origin and Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), where its grapes are grown.

Know-how handed down through the years, experience and winegrowing professionalism, sectorial expertise and dynamic commercial strategies are the keystones that make it one of the most representative and visible companies in the Prosecco world. In 2009 the Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene region was promoted to DOCG status and the Italian authorities decided that Prosecco should only be used as a geographical indication. Prosecco may only be produced in the Prosecco DOC region and two Prosecco DOCG areas (Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Asolo). Anything else made from the same variety must be referred to as Glera.

Read more at:

https://www.lamarca.it/PROSECCOWINE/winegrowers/proseccoWineGrowers.aspx

 

Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura – Reserva, Brut – Cava – Penedés -Catalonia

The Wine: Winemaker Notes:  Golden yellow in color with ripe fruit aromas over a light floral background with hints of toasted bread. The crisp acidity of this wine is complemented by a gentle creaminess that leads into a long and satisfying finish. This is an extremely agreeable wine with a vibrant and attractive effervescence. Pairs well with savory appetizers, grilled seafood or fresh fruit desserts.

This wine is made of three traditional varieties, Xarello, Macabeu and Parellada grapes (33% each). The combination brings a brightly coloured product with greenish hues.  On the palate is bright, lively and pleasant. It has a 12% graduation, with an average of 24 months ageing in bottle. The traditional method of elaboration for cava is the same one as used for champagne, the so called “methode champenoise” but adapted to the local varieties.

The Winery: Espiells is the largest of the estates, with 200 hectares of vineyards in what is recognised as the best winemaking zone in the Alt Penedès, on the slopes of Montserrat, a mountain that emerged from the sea millions of years ago and presides over the country, protecting it from the cold north winds. Old vines, full of history -Espiells is the name of a small Romanesque chapel dating back to the 9th century- planted in well-drained clay and limestone soil at an altitude of between 180 and 245 metres. Perfect land for growing the traditional macabeu and xarel·lo varieties, and to which the chardonnay and pinot noir have adapted perfectly.

Mediona is located on the steep mountainside at 500 to 750 metres above sea level that gives a continental touch to the Mediterranean climate. There is a big difference between the daytime and nighttime temperatures, which is essential for quality winemaking. The different vineyards are called Can Massana, Alzinetes, El Prat, Mas Pagès and Can Soler, where the vines, some very old, planted in rocky soil, yield the local parellada variety of grapes with notable refinement and balance. An ecosystem that is also good for growing Bordeaux reds, such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

La Cuscona  is a small, strong vineyard with 17 hectares of flat land to the south of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Its deep limestone soil enriches the estates as a whole with their diverse microclimates. Artisan growing and limited production to produce Macabeu grapes of extraordinary quality, great aromatic richness, nuanced and balanced in structure. The grapes from this estate are essential for making top-quality cava.

The wine is produced with grapes hand harvested and organic certified from these three vineyards.

Read more at: http://www.juveycamps.com/

 

4.  CV Members Rating

Best Rated Wine:  Albrecht Tradition – Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Crémant d’Alsace

Best Buy: Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura – Reserva, Brut – Cava – Penedés -Catalonia

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 194

5. Technical Notes 

SPARKLING WINES

Sparkling wines have always been a symbol of luxury, celebration and romance. From the explosive sound of its opening, to its golden color and festive bubbles everything seems to brighten the occasion. Napoleon, however, said: “In victory I deserve it in defeat, I need it”, thus also awarding him his ability to lift his spirits.

A French monk, Dom Perignon made in 1690 the first important discovery trying to eliminate the bubbles that were produced in the natural fermentation of the wines. Convinced that the grapes of the same variety with uneven maturation produced the foam, he decided to try mixtures of different grapes harvested on different days to select only the mature grains. Because of these experiments, a very pleasant sparkling wine was produced at some point in the process. From then on Champagne was developed. “I’m drinking the stars” exclaimed Dom Perignon, who is said to be an excellent taster. To this day the Moet & Chandon house still follows its production system called cuvee (the style of the house) used by Dom Perignon.

The French mainly use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes to make the most famous sparkling wine, Champagne, but in other countries rosé, white and even red wines are produced based on other varieties. For example, the Cava de España based on Macabeo and Xarel-lo, the Prosecco or the Lambrusco produced with the grapes of the same names in Italy, the Muscat (Asti), the French Crémmant (produced outside of Champagne), which use other varieties like Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc and in Australia they produce sparkling wines based on Shiraz.

In 1801 Mme. Clicquot invented the system to remove the Champagne sediment by placing the bottles in shelves upside down (riddling) and their elimination (degorgement) by freezing the neck of the bottles afterwards submerging it in very cold water and uncovering each bottle so that by pressure internal expelled the ice cap with the sediment. Adolphe Jacqueson invented the muzzle (musselet) in 1844 to avoid the spontaneous expulsion of the cork during fermentation, storage or transport. The bottles of sparkling wines can reach an internal pressure of up to almost 7 atmospheres and therefore are thick and heavy. Now they are trying to lose weight to lower packaging costs and transportation.

The grapes for the sparkling wine are harvested by hand for uniformity and before the others for normal wine to achieve a low sugar content (afterwards it is reinforced during fermentation) and pressed immediately to avoid oxidation and coloring.

The champagnoise or classic method of production is based on the fermentation in the bottle. First the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks (concrete or barrels sometimes) for about three weeks as for a white wine. Afterwards, reserved wines from the house are added to maintain the cuvee (style), sugar (to promote CO2) and yeasts. It is bottled and left around two years in secondary fermentation with the bottles placed upside down. The bottles must be turned over periodically (riddling – manual or mechanized) every 8 to 10 weeks. When ready, the bottles are “disgorged”, the content is completed with reserved wines, covered and packaged for distribution. The other method is bulk or transfer mediate which the whole process of fermentation is done in steel tanks and is packaged at the end adding CO2 if necessary. This method ensures more consistency but less integration and quality.

The tasting of sparkling wines requires appreciating, in addition to the characteristics of any other wine, the bubbles, their size, persistence and integration with wine. Small and durable bubbles in the glass are a sign of good integration and that the sparkling does not become “flat” when served or moments later. Some recommend serving it as a beer, with the glass tilted so that the wine slides down the wall of the glass and thus preserve the CO2 instead of serving it as a normal wine by cascading it from the top of the glass.

There are several types of sparkling wines from very dry to sweet as well, depending on the sugar content. – Brut Nature (less than 0.5%), Brut (.5-1.5%), Extra Dry (1.2% -2%), Sec (1.7-3.5%), Demi Sec (3.3-3.5%), Doux (more than 5%). In the USA, cheaper is sweeter. As white wines, you have to drink it young. There are “vintage” harvests (exceptional years) that are left in the cellar for several years but when it goes on the market you have to drink it soon.

Sparkling wines are known by many names such as: Vins Mousseux, Spumante, Prosecco, Sket, Cava and Sparkling.

 

 

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