Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sublimely Informative Summer Bubbles Tasting at deVine Wines

I attended deVine Wine’s annual Summer Bubbles champagne tasting night. As I’m still relatively new to drinking wine and know very little about what goes into making it, or what the differences between the different varietals are, attending wine tastings is a great way to learn more about wine, as well as try a variety of wines without committing to buying a whole bottle.
At this wine tasting, the focus was on sparkling wine and champagne, with seven different sparkling wines and champagnes to taste, I knew it was going to be an interesting night of Moo drinking my body weight in alcohol.

They informed us that the first thing to understand was that sparkling wine could only be called champagne if it comes from the champagne region of France. Other bubbly drinks are called either sparkling wine or prosecco, and the makers of those wines usually use a different method to create the bubbles.

There are two methods for turning wine into sparkling wine, prosecco, or champagne  The first is called the French method, where yeast is put into each individual bottle to create a secondary fermentation. The bubbles produced by the French method tend to be smaller, and the wine tends to have a yeasty taste to it. This method is more expensive and time consuming than the second method. The second method does not involve a secondary fermentation. The CO2 is produced in a mass tank, and therefore the bubbles of wine made in this method tend to be bigger, and there is no yeasty taste, as the wine does not come in close contact with the yeast.

Sparkling wine and champagne is also the most flexible wine when it comes to food pairings. Having a bottle on hand at all times can save you from trying to figure out if you should be serving white or red wine with your dinner. Sparkling wine and champagne can go with anything, particularly greasy foods like Kentucky Fried Chicken as it cuts through grease really well – deVine Wines and Spirits owner, Dirk, swears by this. He said it also goes with chips, sushi, and of course, caviar.

A misconception is that sparkling wine and champagne should be served fridge cold, however, this is actually too cold a temperature to be served at. Make sure you take the wine out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to warm up. If you can’t smell anything from the wine, then it is still too cold, as the aromatics cannot be detected until it’s at the right temperature.

The last piece of advice offered to us is that the best vintages of sparkling wine and champagne to date are from 1982, 1988, 1989, and 1990. However, Dirk advises to be on the look out for vintages from 1996 and 2002, as he believes that sparkling wines and champagnes from these years are currently great, and will become even greater as they age.

The sparkling wines, prosecco’s and champagnes we tasted that evening are as follows:
  1. 2009 Raventos I Blanc L’Hereu Cava Brut Reserva (Pendes, Spain) – On the lower end of the scale when it comes to price, this sparkling wine is certified organic and made in the champagne method. It contains a slight yeasty taste to it, is lightly bubbly, but unfortunately tastes a bit too acidic for my liking.
  2. 2006 Feudi di San Gregorio DUBL Sparkling Falanghina (Campania, Italy) – On the slightly higher end of the scale at almost $50 per bottle, it’s a very nice and enjoyable sparkling wine  Consisting of stone fruits and made in the champagne methods, it has small bubbles and has an overall fruity, yet crisp taste. The makers allow the bottle to lay on it’s side for 12 months allowing it to integrate with the yeast added to each bottle. 
  3. 2008 Campolargo Bruto Rose (Portugal) – Another wine made in the champagne method, it is a  mid-range wine at just over $30 per bottle. Based in Portugal, they achieve the rose color by allowing the skin of the grapes to come in contact with the wine. Again, these bottles lay on their sides for a year to allow them to stay in contact with the yeast  resulting in a very bold, yeasty taste, that is somewhat on the savoury side. 
  4. NV Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label La Fridge (Champagne, France) – Certainly one of the most well known champagnes, and on the higher end of the scale at $72 per bottle, this is the Champagne house that developed the riddling table. For those that don’t know what that is, once the liquid has been allowed to age with the yeast in each bottle, the yeast must be removed. But how to remove the yeast without losing so much of the precious liquid? Simple, use a riddling table! The bottles are placed on a special rack, called a riddling table or rack, that holds the bottles at 45 degree angles, with the cap pointed downwards, to encourage the yeast to travel to the neck of the bottle. The bottles are then frozen and the bottled is sabred open, allowing the yeast to float out. Then some sweetness is injected back into the champagne and they recork it. The result is a crispy yeasty taste, hooves down one of my favourite champagnes. 
  5. 2004 Camille Saves GC Brut (Champagne, France) – Another higher priced champagne at almost $70 per bottle, this one is almost more of a red wine than a white because of it’s pinot noir grape content compared to it’s chardonnay. Once upon a time this champagne house used to supply their grapes, along with other small growers to a larger champagne house because the larger house didn’t have enough land to expand. After decades of them and other growers realizing their grapes were being transformed into a champagne that sold at a much higher price point then they were being paid, they, along with other growers opted to start their own champagne labels so that large champagne houses wasn’t make a huge profit off of them. The results were a very crisp, clean, slightly sweet and bready tasting champagne.
  6. 2009 Pisano Rio de Los Pajaros Tannat Reserve Brut (Progreso, Uruguay) – So you’re probably wondering, “Really, a sparkling wine from Uruguay?”. Yup! It’s also very much on the lower end of the scale at $31 per bottle. The wine is made in the champagne method and was started by Italian settlers. The wine smells like a red, and taste similar with a very bold, full bodied and oaky taste. 
  7. 2011 Braida/Bologna Senza Nome Moscato (Piedmonte, Italy) – Last but not least, dessert! A very affordable $24 per bottle, it smells and tastes very sweet, with a hint of orange blossoms. However, it is less sparkling and more effervescent, but pairs well with anything fruit based or with desserts. 
Overall a very informative, fun, and tasty night! If you want to learn more about wine in a fun, safe environment, then I would highly recommend you sign up for a deVine Wines tasting! There are plenty to choose from, on a variety of topics, and in a variety of price ranges! They are well worth the money and your time if you enjoy a good glass of wine!

deVine Wines and Spirits
10111 104 Street NW
Edmonton, AB
Twitter: @deVineWinesEDM

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